• "Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented."

  • "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

  • "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

  • "I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment."

  • "We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."

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Ecological Civilization

Ecological Civilization


International Conference on

Ecological Civilization and Environmental Reporting

  Yale Center Beijing

 June 16, 2015


 Communication University of China

 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

 Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies


It is easy to assume that China’s environmental challenges are China’s alone. The bad air or unsafe food or toxic rivers we read about have no effect on us, we might think, and nothing to do with the world’s demand for the flood of inexpensive, high-quality consumer goods that has fueled the Chinese economic miracle. But “China is a global factory,” says anthropologist Dan Smyer Yu of Yunnan Minzu University. “However you consume, whatever you consume, pay attention to the label ‘Made in China.’ So each of us has a responsibility for the environmental practices of China. China’s environmental issue is a global issue. We have to take responsibility, each of us.”

Görsel sonucuSmyer Yu was among an extraordinarily diverse group of specialists who gathered at Yale Center Beijing in June to engage an issue that is close to home for us all—the state of our environment. But they also addressed a dimension of this topic that is new, and significant—how our diverse religious and cultural traditions might contribute to assuring a sustainable, healthy world for generations to come.

The conference was co-sponsored by the Pulitzer Center, the Communication University of China, and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Participants included environmental specialists and business people, government officials and religious leaders, journalists and academics. Their presentations, and the notably candid exchanges of views, are excerpted in the pages that follow.

The conference took place just as the Vatican issued the Encyclical on the Environment, Pope Francis’s demand that the world address, in an equitable way, the realities of climate change. We are publishing these conference proceedings at another important moment, as the Pope makes his first visit to the United States and as China’s President Xi Jinping makes his first state visit to Washington.

Francis’s call for renewed environmental stewardship has generated huge public attention. Less noted, and striking, is comparable language from Xi and other senior Chinese leaders. “Ecological civilization” will address China’s environmental challenges, they pledge, in part by invoking the religious and cultural touchstones that have informed Chinese society for millennia—traditions such as Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism that had been officially suppressed during seven decades of Communist Party rule.


Ecosystem Restoration

Ecosystem Restoration

Ecosystem Restoration is the “process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed” (SER Primer, 2004).

Many of the world's ecosystems have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and peoples' livelihoods. There is a growing realization that we will not be able to conserve the earth's biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone. When applicable, Ecosystem Restoration should be an important component of conservation and sustainable development programmes so that the livelihoods of people depending on these degraded ecosystems can be sustained. 

Ecosystem Restoration is thus a significant contribution to the application of the Ecosystem Approach, e.g. in informing the negotiation of land use options and enhancement of healthy ecological networks. The Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) has identified Ecosystem Restoration as one of its 19 priority thematic areas.

Ecosystem restoration

For more detailed information on the science and practice of Ecosystem Restoration, the following resources of the Society for Ecological Restoration International (SER) are provided.

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Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem sevices

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defined Ecosystem Services as “the benefits people derive from ecosystems”. Besides provisioning services or goods like food, wood and other raw materials, plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms provide essential regulating services such as pollination of crops, prevention of soil erosion and water purification, and a vast array of cultural services, like recreation and a sense of place..

In spite of the ecological, cultural and economic importance of these services, ecosystems and the biodiversity that underpins them are still being degraded and lost at an unprecedented scale. One major reason for this is that the value (importance) of ecosystems to human welfare is still underestimated and not fully recognized in every day planning and decision-making, in other words, the benefits of their services are not, or only partly, captured in conventional market economics. Furthermore, the costs of externalities of economic development (e.g. pollution, deforestation) are usually not accounted for, while inappropriate tax and subsidy (incentive) systems encourage the over-exploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources and other ecosystem services at the expense of the poor and future generations.

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