(Xinhua, Dec. 1, 2015) -- A seminar was held Tuesday on the sidelines of the Paris climate change conference (COP 21) to share China's experience of transforming a vast desert area into an oasis boasting immense business opportunities.
The Kubuqi Desert in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is the seventh largest desert in the country, and the nearest to Beijing. It was once a major source of raging sandstorms in the Chinese capital.
Over three decades of efforts have been made by scientists and local residents to successfully afforest a major part of the desert, and even generate jobs and growth by cultivating profitable herbs, developing animal husbandry and promoting tourism in these areas.
Photo taken on Aug. 28, 2013 shows a residential area built through afforestation in the Kubuqi Desert in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Xinhua)
The seminar, titled "Desertification and Climate Change in China: The Kubuqi Model of Ecological Capital", was attended by international officials, scholars and business representatives.
Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative on climate change, said the story of Kubuqi exemplifies a win-win solution that combines tackling climates issues and improving people's livelihood, and provides valuable experience to other developing countries.
The private sector played a key role in the success of Kubuqi, according to a report released at the seminar by a joint research team composed of experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Peking University.
The core of the "Kubuqi Model" is to create a sustainable business model, and establish a system that incorporates policy instruments, investment from the private sector and active participation of local peasants and herdsmen, the report says.
Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said it is important to get the private sector involved in fighting decertification.
"In order to address this challenge within the short timeframe, to stay on track for the two degree commitment, we need to leverage all possible sources of investment, and change the way we invest," she said. "It is most encouraged to have commitment from private sector protecting natural capital."
Wang Wenbiao, an entrepreneur from Kubuqi whose company has helped afforest over 6,000 square kilometres of deserted land and created thousands of jobs, said he hope the ecological-economic model of Kubuqi would benefit people in more desert regions.
"Just like us, they can find a way to make the desert green, make the degraded land fertile, and turn sand into treasure," he said.