WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2016 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$9.50 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) today to help China increase water productivity and reduce pollution discharges in the three river basins entering the Bohai Sea, by mainstreaming and scaling up an innovative approach to integrated water and environmental management.
China’s Bohai Sea is one of the world’s most ecologically stressed water bodies. The degradation of the Bohai Sea is mainly due to decreasing fresh water inflows and increasing pollution loads. Average annual fresh water inflows to the sea have been reduced by over 50 percent over the last few decades. More than 40 rivers that flow into the Bohai Sea are severely polluted. Among them, the Liao, Hai, and Yellow Rivers are the most important. Moreover, there are some 105 discrete pollution sources located along its coast that discharge directly into the sea.
“To maintain and restore the necessary water flows in the main rivers entering the Bohai Sea, the issues of both water scarcity and water pollution must be addressed in the upper reaches of the river basins. The project will adopt an integrated water and environment management approach that will simultaneously tackle these two issues, particularly overexploitation of groundwater,” said Liping Jiang, World Bank’s Senior Irrigation Specialist and the team leader for the project.
Built on the first GEF Hai River Basin project, the GEF Mainstreaming Integrated Water and Environment Management Project will refine and more fully integrate remote-sensing technology into integrated water and environment management approach to measure the consumptive use water in ecological, environmental, agricultural, and urban areas, and help develop action plans and targets for a more balanced social and economic development and ecosystem preservation in river basins.
The project will support policy studies and preparation of operational manuals and guidelines on integrated water and environment management approach, demonstration of the approach in two sub-river basins of the Luan and Hutuo and two cities of Chengde and Shijiangzhuang, and its scaling up to the Liao, Hai, and Yellow River Basins. Moreover, a water environment technology extension platform and a water consumption monitoring and management platform will be developed at the national level.
The people living in the project areas and along the Bohai coast will benefit directly from more stable access to water resources and improved water quality due to the project. Eventually the project will contribute to improvements in the Bohai nearshore coastal ecosystem.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations, and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.