In China, #2: Collaborating for a Global Green Economy

0058-Ann Goodman copyDuring Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent US visit, I was struck by his suggestions for China-US economic collaboration in areas like clean energy and infrastructure, both poised to boost a sustainable future.

As I found on my recent trip to Beijing, such collaboration could mean big opportunities for businesswomen in both countries.

After all, not only is the Asian powerhouse now widely accepted as the second largest economy in the world after the US, the two countries have something else in common–namely our vast energy consumption and heavy CO2 footprint. What’s more, women-owned businesses are among the fastest-growing segments of both economies.

Women’s Green Ambitions

Women’s ambitions for a global green economy were on view at the recent annual conference of the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs (CAWE), WNSF’s longtime partner, which called for international support of its ‘Go Green Action Plan’ and invited businesswomen around the globe to join in China’s economic surge and green growth trend.

Take Ms. Yin Yuanping, Executive Vice President of China Enterprise Confederation (CEF), who emphasized at the CAWE conference that the ‘green economy’ is a global issue. Like CAWE, CEF is reaching out to international organizations to work with Chinese business to face challenges and find opportunities.

Mr. Yu Jianhua, Secretary of the China NGO Network for International Exchange, stressed that NGOs, like business, have a responsibility to promote the green economy as a way to advance development. He added that women in business are uniquely poised to promote sustainability, based on their record of supporting NGOs and working with international organizations.

Green Growth

Over the past two years, green business provided a new path to sustainability–offering a lifestyle change, promoting more sustainable production and consumption and stimulating China’s growth and transformation–said Ms. Gu Xiulian, Vice Premier of the 10th National People’s Congress. China’s 12th Five Year Plan, which takes effect this year, will focus on scientific and technological development. That goal can be achieved only through further green business development, she said. (Click here for the latest on clean technology from WNSF’s West Coast Summits)

During its 11th Five Year Plan, China underwent tremendous industrialization, boosting energy consumption and carbon emissions–and stimulating the emergence of a green economy–added Mr. Zhu Hongren, Chief Engineer at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. He stressed that industry is both a key cause and crucial solution to the problems, pointing to the Ministry’s goal to restructure industry and the supply chain, with the aid of high technology–and the aim of building sustainability into the system.

Women’s Leadership

And, Mr. Zhu added: Women lead business in changing the structure of enterprise and pointing it along a green path. As family leaders, women are natural protectors and essential contributors to a green economy–and poised to profit from its growing opportunities.

Ms. Meng Xiaosi, Vice President, All China Women’s Federation, of which CAWE is a member, reiterated that learning from the industrial revolution in Western history, China’s path toward a green economy seems inevitable.

Noting that businesswomen from nine countries were participants at the CAWE conference, she added: “The topic of ‘green economy’ shows the ambition of women entrepreneurs in China and abroad.”

Tell us: What opportunities do you see for cross-border collaboration to build a green economy?

Special thanks to Mike Li and Sandy Yeh for their contributions to this post.

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