Yang Zhenjun was the first business owner to agree to set aside a portion of his earnings to help preserve the environment of the village where his business is located.
Zhanqi village nestles at the foot of the Hengshan Mountain in Tangchang town of Pidu district in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. The town is the largest source of drinking water for the southwestern metropolis, according to Scol, a news website run by Sichuan Daily.
"As a source of drinking water, Tangchang town has voluntarily given up water-polluting industries such as breeding and processing," Li Songyao, who is a member of the Communist Party of China Tangchang committee, told Scol.
This has helped to protect the environment but resulted in the local per capita annual net income being 500 yuan ($76) lower than the average of Pidu district, according to Li.
To offer a way out of the dilemma, the town government introduced a new initiative for potential investors in 2019, encouraging them to contribute 3 percent of their monthly revenue as an "environmental dividend" to the improvement of the local environment.
"At the beginning, a lot of investors found it difficult to accept it because they thought paying rent was enough," Li recalled. "We were looking for people who also recognize the value of a good natural environment."
Yang, who now runs a hotpot restaurant in the village, was the first to accept.
"It's part of our corporate social responsibility to participate in the nationwide rural vitalization campaign," the young entrepreneur was quoted as saying by Scol. "A good natural environment will also draw more tourists, which will bring us more business."
Yang's restaurant contributed an environmental dividend worth 8,803 yuan in October 2019, its first month of operation. As of September this year, 12 investors had come on board with the environmental dividend model, according to Li.
The environmental dividends collected have been used to build a green parking lot, bury cables in the ground and maintain the quality of water resources in the village. "The inviting environment encourages tourists to stay longer and spend more," the local government said.
This is one example of the measures Chengdu has taken to create business opportunities and a more comfortable life by using natural resources in a creative and sustainable way.
Aspiring to become a park city, Chengdu has been transforming its natural resources such as forests, parks, wetlands and rivers into tourist attractions and spaces for social and leisure activities.
The night cruise down the Jinjiang River, the mother river of Chengdu, has become a new force in the city's after-dark economy. Visitors can observe Chengdu at night by taking a ride in a traditional black-awning boat that passes attractions such as the Hejiang Pavilion and Lan Kwai Fong fashion and entertainment complex. Light shows are also put on to add a splash of color to the nighttime cityscape.
The Jinjiang River night cruise is a result of the Jinjiang Greenway project. Expected to span 240 kilometers once completed, the Jinjiang Greenway attracts investment by building commercial spaces, tourist attractions, ecological landscapes and fitness facilities on the banks of the Jinjiang River.
During the first eight months of this year, the proportion of good quality water in the Jinjiang River basin reached 97.6 percent, an increase of 7.1 percentage points year-over-year, according to the local government.
To engage businesses and individuals in the city's carbon reduction cause, the Chengdu government proposed in March a mechanism that rewards individuals, households, communities, and small and micro businesses for reducing their carbon footprint with policy and tangible incentives.
Chengdu's ecology and environment bureau suggests that businesses reduce their carbon emissions by using energy-efficient technologies in their production processes and engaging in carbon trading via an online platform run by the Sichuan United Environment Exchange.
For individuals, the bureau said they can gain points through a WeChat mini program by opting for green transportation options, sorting garbage and choosing eco-friendly restaurants and shopping malls.
The points gained can be redeemed for "fun and practical green products and services" such as office desk plants and reusable grocery bags, according to local officials.
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