Five models of peasant engagement in rural environmental protection – rural revitalization in China

Context

The Central Document No. 1, released on 22 February proposed promoting green development of rural agriculture and further implementing the five-year action plan to improve the rural living environment by 2025. Participation of the peasants determines the effectiveness of these goals. However, according to Wang Xiaoli and He Jianying, at present, peasants have a low level of participation in and low motivation for environmental governance.

A village run co-operative purpose-built factory tofu factory as part of rural revitalization program to increase income: of Caizhai Village, Province of Zhejiang, China (Photograph: Wang Ziling)
Summary

The authors summarize their hands-on experiences and make suggestions for promoting effective peasant participation by combining the following five models.

According to the authors, the treatment models they outline are still in the exploration stage, although they are beginning to bear fruit. The market and technology-led models rely on passive or interest-driven participation of the peasants, and therefore they must still engage the peasants’ active participation to sustain the models. The model led by social organizations (including those in villages, townships, and counties) needs to stimulate peasants to actively participate in rural environmental governance by enhancing their environmental awareness as well as promoting industrial development.

Key points
  • The “zero-pollution” (零污染 líng wūrǎn) village model, supported by social organizations, is based on capable leadership and volunteer mobilization, and is motivated by individual needs. The household-based model uses household waste to make eco-enzymes for home-grown and consumed products and implements a “point system” (积分制 jīfēn zhì) to eventually reduce waste by 80%.
  • The township environmental management (镇域环境治理 zhèn yù huánjìng zhìlǐ) model, supported by social organizations, takes advantage of its mentors, party members, village cadres, and volunteers to conduct training and develop professional implementation programs. The goal is to increase villagers’ participation in garbage sorting and reward the results – waste has been reduced by 65% in the areas studied.
  • The county government-led Anji model (安吉模式Ānjí móshì), uses the “village + market” operational method, in which each villager pays one yuan per month, and the village’s environmental sanitation is handed over to a professional cleaning company that manages the process with regular financial disclosure and multi-level supervision. The county government provides subsidies and encourages all employees to participate in the process. Garbage sorting is included in the village rules. Since the project began, Anji’s natural environment has been beautifully restored.
  • Technology-led domestic sewage treatment, through government subsidies and financial assistance, reduces the cost incurred by villagers to transform the sewage discharge facilities. Furthermore, villagers involved in the sewage transformation pilot generated new revenue, inspiring other villagers to actively participate.
  • In the market-led model of livestock and poultry manure treatment, the government provides financial support to reduce the burden on peasant households, while mobilizing social forces to monitor, regulate, and promote the utilization of manure.

Sources:

See also: Global Times, The Central Document No. 1, 2022

Authors:

Wang Xiaoli (王晓莉) is an associate professor at the Institue of Social and Ecological Civilization Research, the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

He Jianying (何建莹) is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Ecological Civilization Research, the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

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