The Water Stewardship Project might be a small initiative but it is firmly anchored into local and national aspirations to protect the environment. The Chinese government launched a national Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention earlier this year, setting ambitious and long-term goals. Among other things, the government wants to provide safe drinking water, protect water resources, and enhance wastewater treatment throughout China.
Our project supports this work by tackling these very issues on a local level in rural Guangxi, where the local government has also created a strategy to enhance environmental protection. The “Beautiful Guangxi, Clean Villages” campaign promotes efforts to clean up the local environment but it also has another important goal: safe and clean water sources. The Water Stewardship Project is well aligned with this goal.
The government is the main supporter of rural community development in China, so having common goals with local and national authorities makes sense. The Water Stewardship Project is an example of an initiative that is in line with government policies while responding to local needs.
The project is also connected to both Stora Enso and Kemira’s operations. For Kemira, this has been a valuable opportunity to learn about working with rural villages that normally are difficult to reach. “It has been an eye opening experience for us ,” says Joe Chan, President of Kemira’s operations in China. “This is our first time working together with the government, rural villages, and one of our key customers.” Indeed, Stora Enso has been Kemira’s customer in the Nordics for years, making this partnership a natural choice. “For Stora Enso,” says Rajah Jayendran, General Manager of Stora Enso’s Guangxi operations, “the Water Stewardship Project has been a small but valuable part of our strategic investment in Guangxi, a vital effort to build trust within the local community.”
Sharing the knowledge
While the long-term results of the pilot projects remain to be seen, there is hope that they can become a model for other communities. The villages of Nahupo and Baimei are already sharing their knowledge and experience in wetland construction with each other, to ensure both are getting the best out of their new solution systems. “The technical background of the villagers is not always that great,” says Joe Chan. “Those who do it well should be encouraged to share their success stories with others.” Kemira and Stora Enso have also been invited to speak about the project to various audiences, spreading the word on an industry level.
Ultimately, the success of the pilot projects depends on the villagers and their ability to maintain their new water management systems. Being anchored into government goals, and with the expertise of two global companies, we think they have a pretty good chance of becoming role models for others. But whether the pilot projects become a successful model or not, both Stora Enso and Kemira will continue to be committed to environmental protection and sustainable development in all their operations.