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uschinaarts.org - Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development

Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development

Through its involvement in the Yunnan Nationalities Cultures Project, the Center recognized that the environmental conservation, development and management challenges facing Yunnan were of a global nature and required innovative solutions. As a result, the Center, in collaboration with Chinese partners, organized the 1999 Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development, which, at the invitation of the Ford Foundation and the government of Yunnan, brought more than 180 experts and observers from around the world to Yunnan. The conference was held September 12-19 in the cities on Kunming and Lijiang in Yunnan Province. The Conference consisted of briefings, exhibits, performances, demonstrations, site visits, and presentation and discussion sessions.

The Yunnan Initiative: Five Principles

The Leadership Conference on Conservancy and Development concluded with a comprehensive policy statement, the Yunnan Initiative, which articulated the principles and strategies for cultural and ecological conservation as well as sustainable economic development applicable to places that are culturally and biologically diverse. The Yunnan Initiative consists of the following principles:
  1. Conservation:

    Development should proceed without damage to culture, ecology, economy and society.

  2. Inclusion:

    In keeping with Yunnan’s policy to develop the province into “a great province of nationalities cultures”, development and conservation strategies must be inclusive of all nationalities, and must build on local cultural heritage.

  3. Education:

    Building public awareness of cultural and environmental values is critical to long-term success.

  4. Tourism:

    Tourism could be a major engine for economic development, and must be developed to enhance Yunnan’s culture and ecology and provide direct social and economic benefits to indigenous people.

  5. Collaboration:

    Local, regional, national and international collaboration on strategies to integrate conservation and development will bring a great deal to Yunnan and its partner communities from around the world.

The Yunnan Initiative set the stage for a formal partnership between the Center and Yunnan to implement demonstration projects that are guided by these principles. In January 2000, the Governor of Yunnan invited the Center to tour the Southern Silk Road and identify two demonstration projects. Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve and the 600-year-old historic City of Weishan were selected to illustrate the Yunnan Initiative.

The Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange is responsible for initiating and coordinating projects in these two regions in collaboration with Yunnan’s Leadership Group (consisting of three senior officials of the province) and a Commission of Specialists consisting of leading professionals in all relevant disciplines. See the Chronology of the Center’s Projects in Yunnan from 1999 to the present for a listing of projects that have been conducted in the Weishan Valley and the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve.