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Yundang Lake, the city's drawing room


The Yundang Lake, Xiamen, Fujian Province, August 24, 2020. /CFP
The Yundang Lake, Xiamen, Fujian Province, August 24, 2020. /CFP

The Yundang Lake, Xiamen, Fujian Province, August 24, 2020. /CFP

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, will host the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) from February 26 to March 1, 2024.

The main topic of discussion during UNEA-6 will be how multilateralism may be used to address the triple global crises of pollution and waste, biodiversity loss and climate change.

In the Yundang Lake area, Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, the mangrove forest gently sways as the tide rises, demonstrating a successful example of ecological restoration. Thanks to several restoration projects, Yundang Lake has recently been transformed into a verdant harbor.

The Yundang Lake basin covers an area of 37 square kilometers and was well known for its fishing culture. In the 1970s, people reclaimed land from the sea in order to increase grain production, and Yundang became an inner lake.

As the population and factories increased, water pollution grew steadily. Industrial wastewater from over 100 factories was discharged directly into the lake, together with untreated sewage from hundreds of thousands of local residents. Locals said the waters used to smell in the early 1980s, full of garbage, and poisoned by heavy pollution.

In the mid-to-late 1980s, various measures were implemented to turn the tide and restore the lake to its former state of health. Industrial enterprises around the lake were all shut down and relocated, sewage plants were built, and seawater was channeled into the lake to revitalize the water body.

Local residents also played a key role, taking charge of the management of the lake. Chen Yajin says he's found a sense of purpose in retirement – he's the chief overseeing the waters. They inspected the lake and reported issues to authorities.

The government attaches great importance to people's opinions and promptly solves the problems reported by the citizens. Chen thinks the experience has provided a very good example for other districts in Xiamen.

With the efforts over the past 30-plus years, Yundang Lake, presently dubbed as the "city's drawing room," now features clear water and abundant aquatic life, serving as a scenic spot for residents and tourists alike.

The restoration of Yundang Lake has set a clear example for other Chinese cities to follow. China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment says other parts of the world could also learn from the drastic changes that have taken shape there.

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