China Boosts Ecological Protection and Water Control in Yangtze River Basin

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2023-The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$200 million loan to enhance ecological protection and reduce water pollution along China's Yangtze River basin in Hubei Province. This financing will strengthen ecosystem management, reduce water pollution from plastics and animal manure, and improve wastewater treatment.

The Yangtze River basin covers 19 provinces in China and provides the main source of water for almost 600 million people. Due to increased human and industrial activity, the basin acts as a conveyer of plastic and other pollutants to the world's oceans. It is also home to a third of China's endangered species and 40 percent of its rare or endangered plants.

The Yangtze River Protection and Ecological Restoration Program (Hubei) complements a companion World Bank-financed program supporting Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces that was approved in December 2021 and expands the geographical coverage of World Bank support for ecological protection and water pollution control to the entire middle reaches of the river basin. Together the two programs will support implementation of China's Yangtze River Protection Law, which aims at improving the management of water resources in the basin, including through better coordination across line agencies and levels of government.

"The program is an excellent example of how the World Bank's support to China helps to address some of today's most pressing local and global challenges, including plastic waste, climate change and biodiversity loss," said Mara Warwick, World Bank Country Director for China, Mongolia and Korea. "By supporting cross-sectoral coordination, cooperation across provincial jurisdictions in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, and innovation in the management of water resources, this program will help China achieve real impacts in pollution reduction in the Yangtze basin at scale."

The program focuses on improving coordination, data collection and sharing, and water management planning and allocation across the river basin. Within selected demonstration counties, the program will also support activities to protect land-based ecosystems through soil and water conservation, prevent plastics from entering water bodies through collection and recycling of agricultural plastic film and other plastic wastes, improve wastewater management systems, and reduce nutrient runoff through improved management of animal manure.

Total program financing over the five-year period is expected to be US$1.1 billion, with World Bank financing complementing $874 million of China's own resources. Provincial level activities will focus on strengthening the policy and institutional responses. At the sub-basin level, integrated water management planning and operations will be carried out in the Qing River basin and Hong Lake basin.

The project is in line with the World Bank's Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for China for FY2020 to 2025, which aims to help China address its development challenges, particularly in areas relating to global public goods, such as environmentally sustainable growth.

The World Bank Group supports efforts to address China's interrelated climate and development challenges, as highlighted in the recent China Country and Climate Development Report, as well as ecosystem degradation and marine plastic pollution.

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