Understanding China's political will for sustainability and conservation gains

19 January 2023

People and Nature

Hubert Cheung, Yutong Phoenix Feng, Amy Hinsley, Tien Ming Lee, Hugh P. Possingham, Stephen N. Smith, Laura Thomas-Walters, Yifu Wang, Duan Biggs

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  1. Political will is a critical determinant of the success or failure of environmental policies and interventions. Harnessing the political will necessary to implement environmental solutions can be challenging because environmental priorities may compete with other societal interests in policymaking.
  2. Environmental solutions are more politically feasible if fundamentally aligned with the core interests of key policymakers. Understanding the political agendas of decision-makers enables conservationists to identify where political will already exists, and allows environmental objectives to piggyback on the motivation to deliver results.
  3. In this paper, we explore the core interests of the Chinese leadership to uncover opportunities to leverage Beijing's political will for sustainability and conservation gains. China's growing influence on ecosystems and natural resource use both within and beyond its borders makes an analysis of its leadership's political will valuable and timely.