Sustainable Development and China: Recommendations for the Forestry, Cotton and E-products Sectors

By Jason Potts, David Runnalls, Jason Potts on February 23, 2009

China has entered an unprecedented stage of economic growth. Home to one-fifth of the world's population, China's domestic markets and production base are set to establish China as the world's single largest economy by 2030. China's rapid and foreseeable economic growth places it in the unique position of being able to redefine its manufacturing base and trading relationships in accordance with the core principles of sustainable development over a relatively short time frame. And while the opportunity before China is clear, it is also clear that taking full advantage of this opportunity will only be possible with the cooperation and support of its trading partners.

The Global Markets Project is a joint initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). It is aimed at identifying practical strategies for ensuring the long-term sustainability of China's growth process. Fuelled by an international research team and guided by a high-level international advisory panel, the project provides a forward-looking and constructive approach to transitioning key Chinese supply chains from "business as usual" to a "sustainable business" paradigm.

This report, which summarizes the results of the first phase of the Global Markets Project, provides an overview of the social and environmental impacts associated with the Chinese forestry, cotton and E-product supply chains, as well as a corresponding set of recommendations to the Chinese government as it moves towards its objective of attaining HeXieSheHui ("harmonious society"). The report's conclusions suggest a series of concrete actions available to the Chinese government as it seeks to leverage the forces of the market as a vehicle for stimulating sustainable production, consumption and trade.

For additional background, please see the three sector reports:

Global Forest Product Chains (PDF - 2.8 mb)

Global Cotton and Textile Product Chains (PDF - 1.2 mb)

Sustainable Electronics and Electrical Equipment for China (PDF - 1.5 mb)

Report details

IISD, 2009