Greening China's Capital and Trade Flows

Moving to a sustainable global economy not only protects the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, it is also surprisingly affordable. China has a unique opportunity to leapfrog to green practices and lead the way towards a low-carbon economy.

In one generation, China has leapt from being a low-technology agrarian economy to a mass producer of good to developed countries. Rice farming, Dongting Lake, Hunnan Province, China.
© Yifei ZHANG / WWF

Promoting sustainable finance

China's economic development is unparalleled in its speed and scale.
Faced with environmental challenges and restricted resource availability, China is now engaged in taking another leap to ensure its continued development, this time towards a more energy-efficient, low-carbon economy.

Banks and financial institutions have a key role to play in furthering China's development objectives and can become a vehicle for driving sustainability in the economy.

Investing in the future

Long-term investments and development projects have a direct impact on the environment and people's livelihoods.

That is why WWF engages with China's financial sector, as well as government regulators, to promote sustainable business practices and lending policies, both domestically and overseas, so that investments contribute to a better future for the planet.

The banking and finance sector has a major influence on the state of the environment, and can help make the economy more efficient.

Isabelle Louis, Director, WWF International's Asia-Pacific Programme

Responsible Trade

© John E. Newby / WWF
Mozambique and Tanzania export more than 50% of their timber to China. Chinese sawmill the Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania.
© John E. Newby / WWF
To help fuel its rapid economic growth, China has increased its trade and investments throughout the world, particularly in commodity-rich Africa.
WWF is working to encourage responsible trade practices for Chinese businesses operating overseas. Such trade flows will be crucial in helping to build a green global economy.

By working with key sectors, such as energy production, mining, forestry, finance and trade, WWF can support China in its efforts to achieve its development goals in a sustainable way.

Through WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), for example, more than 1 million hectares of forests in China are certified. The goal of the GFTN in China is to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests in the country. It also serves as a forum for Chinese companies to demonstrate that they are producing and purchasing forest products in a responsible manner.
© WWF / GFTN-China
GFTN-China Logo
© WWF / GFTN-China

WWF Goals

    • By 2020, 60% of the total investments by major Chinese policy banks adhere to international standards and best practices in environmental lending policies.
    • By 2020, the volume of investments in energy efficiency by China's domestic financial institutions increases by 500% compared to 2008.
    • By 2020, commodity imports from sustainable sources are 25% of the total market share.

Facts & Figures

    • With a GDP of US$4.3 trillion in 2008, China is the 3rd largest economy in the world after the EU and US; in terms of GDP per capita, China is ranked 133, with an average of US$6,000.
    • China's banks and financial institutions have total assets of 70 trillion Chinese yuan (over US$10.3 trillion).
    • Among the world's top 10 banks for market capitalization, 3 are Chinese: ICBC, China Construction Bank and Bank of China.
    • Between 2002 and 2008, China’s outward investments increased 15-fold, mainly driven by the need to access natural resources for domestic consumption and to meet production needs for export to external markets.
    • With an annual growth rate of 30% since 2000, China has rapidly become one of the most significant investors in Africa.
    • At the end of 2008, China was Africa's second largest trading partner with trade totalling US$106.8 billion.