Our Stories

  • Empowering Local Communities to Protect Qinghai Plateau

    “A villager called us through the walky-talky and told us that a wild donkey was hurt,” says Wen Zhou. “Whilst they were collecting trash they witnessed a wild donkey running from two wolves. It hit the fence, hurting its ankle, and now we need to get over there to help!

  • Abandoning Harmful Chemicals to Protect Ozone Layer

    A chemical commonly used in Chinese factories to clean all types of screens such as TV’s and computers and linked to causing damage to the earth’s ozone layer, may soon be phased out. The chemical known as HCFC-141 b is said to deplete the ozone layer, exposing people to harmful radiations. Such radiation is reported to be responsible for an increase in cases of skin cancer, deaths of animal species and global warming.

  • Saving the Planet, One Appliance at a Time

    I have a degree in Applied Chemistry, but I did not know much about Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and their damaging nature until I started working on pesticide management in 2007 in Hubei Province. Through my job I learnt that improper dismantling and processing of e-waste releases organic Pollutants that have a detrimental impact on human health and the environment. To give you an idea of the scale of the issue – it has been estimated that in 2015 alone, the number of e-waste items recycled in China amounted to 152.74 million pieces! So this is a challenging task for those of us who work on waste management, but, I think that we are now on the right track.

  • Sustainable Water Management Promises Better Livelihood for Fishermen

    “Those living on a mountain live off the mountain. Those living near the water live off the water. We live on a great marshland but still have little usable land or water,” said Liu Yanjiang, a local 50 year-old fisherman living in Dahuangbawa wetland of Haihe basin.

  • Upgrading Lifestyle for the Birds and People

    With its unique grassland mountains and wetlands, Qinghai province provides the ideal shelter for many wildlife species. With its cold atmosphere and abundant water supply, the Naren wetland possesses rich biodiversity, attracting wildlife like black-neck cranes.

  • Straws: From Unwanted Waste to Biomass Energy and Women Empowerment

    Straw was once welcomed by villagers in Xianhe village, Shanxi province as the agricultural by-product that could be used as food to feed the animals and fuel to heat up the stoves and clay beds. With China’s rapid development in technology and economy, farmers no longer consider straw as an essential commodity but instead burn it as unwanted waste during the harvest season.

  • New Ways to Conserve the Tibetan Forests

    The Bazhu Village has been peacefully nested on the hillside of the Beng Bu Shen Ge Sacred mountain, beside the Jingshajiang River for decades. Thanks to the Tibetan culture and Buddhist teachings of the region, which instills respect for life and nature, the villagers have been preserving the forests and shelters of many precious wildlife for the past 800 years.

  • Sustainable Forest Management Boosts Development of Carbon Markets

    The mountain scenery of Miyun County has changed over recent decades. Before the 1980s, mountains in Miyun were barren, with only a thin layer of soil covering the mountain rocks. It was difficult to spot trees; instead, there were only naturally-grown shrubs which were less effective in soil and water conservation.

  • Improving Local Livelihoods by Protecting the Ningxia Desert

    “The cold winds from the north and the west blew up the sands, and all you could see was sand – everywhere,” recounted Liu Zhanyou, the Village Chief of Liuyaotou, Ningxia. The desert-like Ningxia environment is known for its harsh living conditions, making everyday life difficult for local villagers like Liu En. The Liuyaotou villagers, residing on the borders of the Mu Us desert where the annual precipitation is less than 250mm, have to rely on sheep husbandry as their source of income.

  • Heating the Community Centre with Cleaner Air

    Together with approximately 9,000 residents, Zhang Shaocheng lives in Zhaofeng, an old district in Tianjiang. In the past during the smoggy winters, they had to bear the repugnant smell of diesel fumes and lived in constant fear of a potential boiler explosion.

  • Medical Devices Factory Combats Environmental Concerns

    Yu Jiao, a young female employee at Zhejiang Kindly Medical Devices Co. Ltd (KDL) has worked for years in the medical devices industry in very difficult conditions. “Our company has a huge cleaning workload at an annual amount of 400,000 or so pieces of fixtures.” The cleaning procedure for all fixtures was manually done, with workers such as Yu Jiao brushing and refilling the cleaning solvents over and over by hand.

  • Producing Paint Using Marine-Friendly Alternatives to DDT

    Tang Hao has been a seasoned worker in the production of Anti Fouling Paint (AFP) for nearly a decade. He began working in Zhejiang Flying Whale Paint Ltd, Feijing, in his mid- 20s but was unaware that the paint he dealt with every day was DDT-based and extremely harmful to humans and wildlife.

  • Biodiversity Conservation Yields Organic Tea

    As a seasoned tea farmer, Li Mingshui is well acquainted with Xinyang Maofeng tea, one of the most famous green teas in China. “To cultivate the best tea leaves, it is important to find a place with amiable weather and quality water supply. So mountains provide suitable conditions for tea to grow,” said Li.

  • A More Sustainable Home for Migratory Birds in Gansu

    Growing up in Guomaotan wetland, Xihedao is very familiar with migratory birds passing by every winter. “Wildfowls like black-necked cranes and swans are attached to their partners for a lifetime. Once their partners are gone, the birds wail at the loss and feel very alone,” said Xihedao. “The sounds they make are heart-trembling.”

  • Not Just Another Brick in the Wall

    Wang Jingli has lived in the region around Wangyu village in China’s Hebei province for almost thirty years. The region, located in the mountainous area north of Shihe District, Qinhuangdao is famous for cherry cultivation and rural tourism. Wangyu’s local population of 938 used to live across five separate villages. In the past, the village residents had to cope with a lack of public facilities and social infrastructure such as inadequate drainage, non-existent central heating and no public green spaces.

  • Combating Climate Change: Commercialising Clean Transport

    Today, coal and oil combustion constitute 90% of China’s total energy use, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and ozone concentrations exceed nationally specified limits, and the nation faces the continuing challenge of mounting air pollution.

  • Combating Climate Change: Green Refrigeration

    When is a sticker not just a sticker? When it represents one of the most significant domestic energy reforms in Chinese history.

  • Preserving Biodiversity and Restoring Ecosystems

    At over 3,400 metres above sea level, visitors to the Ruoergai peat lands on the edge of the Tibetan plateau may find that their most striking feature is not their natural beauty, but the thousands of man-made drainage holes that scar the landscape. Used mainly to reduce water levels and make the land more suitable for raising livestock and mining, these holes have damaged more than the scenery, they have put entire ecosystems at risk.

  • Remodelling Chinese Homes for the Next Millennium

    When most people think of remodelling it is often the physical changes, like adding new curtains, modern flooring or wallpaper, that first come to mind. But for the 337 million rural Chinese residents – representing 32 percent of the total population – that lack clean cooking fuel, the kind of renovations UNDP have been working on are having far wider implications.

  • Guangxi Sugarcane Farmers Scale Up Yields, Increase Drought Resilience

    During the dry half of the year, Li Zhi Wen, a sugarcane farmer in Lianhe Village of Shangsi County in Guangxi, and his wife, Qin Shaozhen, must lead an ox cart three kilometers away to obtain water. Without a dependable water source, it is difficult for them to maintain their sugarcane fields, a water intensive crop, as well as domestic hygiene and sanitation.

  • New Refrigeration Systems Promise a Cleaner China

    With China’s population being more than 1.3 billion, China’s Industrial and Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (ICR) sector has expanded in the past two decades at an annual average rate of 12 percent. Moreover, demand for large scale food processing and storage equipment has increased by 15 percent every year.

  • Chinese Farmers Plant a Seed for a Chemical Free Future

    Seventy year-old Dang Jiuru always dreamed of sending his grandson to university, but until recently his lifelong ambition seemed destined to remain unfulfilled. His apple orchard in Luochuan County, Shaanxi Province, simply didn't make enough money. But just two years since he took the bold step of abandoning toxic DDT pesticides, his grandson's university fund is growing as fast as his apples.

  • Migrating Winter Birds: Charting a New Course for Biodiversity Conservation

    Local communities are gradually realising the value of their environment and seeking international support to protect it, and with UNDP's continued support further incorporation of biodiversity considerations within local development policies remains a distinct possibility.

  • Providing a Healing Hand to Sustainable Biodiversity

    With restrictions on logging and farming hitting hardest along the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the collection of wild traditional Chinese medicinal plants offered enticing income opportunities for enterprising residents. Nevertheless, despite contributing significantly to primary healthcare industries, harvesting quickly rose to unsustainable proportions and resulted in the widespread destruction of fragile habitats and encroachment into protected areas and nature reserves.

  • A Light Bulb Moment: Promoting Energy Efficient Lighting

    Develop the marketing channels and financial mechanisms that open access to efficient lighting in small cities and rural communities. It is widely recognised that one of the most significant drains on energy demands is lighting, with most conventional incandescent light bulbs typically require four times the energy of their more efficient counterparts.

  • Guangxi Sugarcane Farmers Scale Up Yields, Increase Drought Resilience

    During the dry half of the year, Li Zhi Wen, a sugarcane farmer in Lianhe Village of Shangsi County in Guangxi, and his wife, Qin Shaozhen, must lead an ox cart three kilometers away to obtain water. Without a dependable water source, it is difficult for them to maintain their sugarcane fields, a water intensive crop, as well as domestic hygiene and sanitation.

  • Building Back Better and Greener

    Before the devastating Wenchuan earthquake in southwestern China on 12 May, 2008, 62 year-old Qing Liehua's main source of income and food for his family was through raising chickens. After the earthquake destroyed his home in Qinghe Village, Sichuan Province, however, he lost everything, including his chicken business.

  • From Fruit to Biodiesel

    Having encouraged participation from a wide range of public and private sector organisations, the project has left local communities better equipped to maintain profitable farmland activities.

  • Mosuo in the World Market: From Remote Village in China to Modern Mall in Singapore

    The scarves, resplendent in colour and painstakingly hand-woven, sit atop shiny modern surfaces in an upscale Singaporean department store. They come not from one of Europe’s famous fashion houses but rather, from villagers located in a remote part of Yunnan Province, China. This exclusive collection of artisan-made scarves is the proud handiwork of the Mosuo.

  • From 22 days to 22 Seconds: Modernising China’s Customs Administration

    It is not so long ago that anything entering or leaving China would have been subject to a long customs clearance process. For millions of young entrepreneurs, this used to represent one of their biggest obstacles when competing in global markets.

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