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People, Planet, Prosperity - People’s Republic of China Pilot Project: New GEP Account in the South Dongting Lake Region to Support Stewardship and Livelihoods

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This pilot within the People, Planet, Prosperity project will conduct a baseline assessment of ecosystem services and create a new gross ecosystem product (GEP) account for the South Dongting Lake region, to support a critical area for migratory birds, local livelihoods, and food and water security. Key collaborators: Asian Development Bank (ADB); Yuanjiang Municipal Government; South Dongting Lake Nature Reserve Administration; Professor Ziying ZOU of Hunan Normal University (consultant). 

The Challenge

The People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s natural environment has been subjected to severe and widespread degradation resulting from rapid economic growth. In response, policymakers have undertaken a range of ambitious initiatives to protect and revitalize ecosystems. Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP) is one such initiative, led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Natural Capital Project. GEP is a development indicator that measures the aggregate value of final ecosystem services produced in a given area (e.g., a unified economic account based on assessments of a variety of services). The PRC is the first country to officially adopt GEP, with the national government publishing guidelines and hundreds of local governments implementing it in diverse contexts. 

Dongting Lake, located primarily in Hunan Province, is one of the country’s largest freshwater lakes, and its watershed is a critical component of the Yangtze River Basin. The southern boundaries of the lake abut a rapidly growing urban area, while the northern parts are adjacent to large swathes of cropland. Dongting Lake and its wetlands are also a major migratory bird habitat, and was one of the country’s highest priority wetlands identified through the Asian Development Bank (ADB)'s flagship Regional Flyway Initiative.

house on stilts built in a water canal

The Solution

This project will provide a GEP accounting supplement to a larger Global Environment Facility-funded initiative. This is in the context of a proposed ADB sovereign loan, up for approval in 2024: the Hunan South Dongting Lake Wetland Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Development Project. This pilot will help value and protect terrestrial ecosystem services in this critical watershed so they can provide migratory bird habitat and support rural economic development. The new GEP account will support spatial planning for protected areas; eco-compensation (i.e., payment for ecosystem services) for local land stewards (primarily farmers); and performance evaluation for local administrators and for land-use projects.

Photo Credits: Asian Development Bank

Project Category: Sustainable development
Project Status:  Current

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