China: GEF grants to restore ecosystem and promote industrial energy efficiency

June 1, 2011

Beijing, June 1, 2011 - Yesterday the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved two grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) totaling US$6.98 million to the People’s Republic of China to restore ecosystems in Lake Aibi in Xinjiang and promote energy efficiency in industries.

The Sustainable Management and Biodiversity Conservation of the Lake Aibi Basin, supported by a GEF grant of US$2.98 million, aims to help restore the ecosystem in Lake Aibi. This lake lies located in the Bortala Prefecture, Western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Lake Aibi sits in an internally-draining, salt-rich basin which experiences high winds for about half the year.  Average annual precipitation in the area is only about 40 mm, and most of its water resources come from glacier and snow melt. In recent years, with the rapid increase in water consumption for irrigated agriculture in upstream areas, the wetlands around Lake Aibi are shrinking rapidly, threatening its globally-significant biodiversity, primarily migratory water birds including nine endangered species.

The project seeks to provide stronger scientific analyses on the major threats to sustainable biodiversity conservation in Lake Aibi, and to test pilot approaches to tackle some of the root causes of these problems. For example, the project will use advanced water resource assessments to inform better decisions to allocate water for consumptive uses. These allocations are intended to increase the environmental water flows reaching Lake Aibi.  The project will also strengthen management of Lake Aibi National Wetland Reserve, in particular to conserve aquatic and terrestrial habitats, and will support pilot testing of new ways to manage grazing by domestic animals, in consultation with communities, and facilitate natural regeneration of native plant species. If successful, the lessons from these pilots can be replicated and ultimately lead to reduction of wind erosion from the dry bed of Lake Aibi, and conservation of globally significant biodiversity and their supporting ecosystems. 

The China Energy Efficiency Promotion in Industry, financed by a GEF Grant of US$4 million, aims to strengthen the institutional capacity for both the management and technical aspects of energy use in key industrial sectors in China, thereby contributing to improvements in energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The industrial sector is the main force of China’s economic growth and energy consumption, accounting for 41.5 percent of GDP and more than 70 percent of energy consumption in 2008. The new project will focus on strengthening the “human infrastructure” and creating a culture of continuous improvement in energy efficiency in industrial enterprises, by developing in-house expertise to plan, implement, manage, and monitor energy efficiency measures themselves on a continual basis.

The project will support the development of training materials tailored for energy managerial personnel in major energy-consuming enterprises, and provide sub-grant to about four training centers for the effective delivery of training programs. In parallel, the project will assist selected enterprises in energy intensive industry sectors to set up energy management programs. These programs will be designed to provide a continuous improvement in energy efficiency and help industries comply with the Energy Conservation Law. The lessons from these programs will be disseminated for replication in other industries. The project will also support policy studies to support the implementation of the Energy Conservation Law and related regulations and standards.

"The generous support of the Global Environmental Facility to these projects will help test new approaches for the conservation of biodiversity in water stressed protected areas like Lake Aibi, and strengthen the human capacity of Chinese industries to improve their energy efficiency. As in the past, GEF resources support innovation, testing, and learning of lessons that will be useful not only for China but for many other developing countries facing similar challenges of global significance,” said Ede Ijjasz, World Bank’s China Sector Manager for Sustainable Development.

Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. It provides grants to developing countries and countries in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.

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