Nokia: water advocacy in China

Nokia and IUCN China have partnered to work together on an advocacy programme for local people in the Miyun County. This programme will enhance local knowledge of watershed management in an area that faces serious water shortages.

Tibetan woman washing clothes in a river in China

China has only 2200 cubic meters per annum per capita of water, a quarter of the world‘s average. Beijing has less than 300 cubic meters per annum per capita of water - 1/30th of the world's average. In the years to come, Beijing is expected to face increasingly significant water shortages as it is located in a harsh, semi arid environment, surrounded by degraded ecosystems. Low rainfall, expanded domestic, industrial and agricultural water use, increasing levels of water pollution, erosion and inadequate flood protection infrastructure are all contributing to water scarcity.

The Miyun Reservoir is the main source of drinking water for the 17 million residents of Beijing. Whilst the watershed has significant forest cover, large areas are degraded. Natural, mixed broadleaf forests have largely disappeared, the existing secondary forests are being severely degraded by unregulated fuel wood harvesting, and the remaining forests are mostly made up of young and even-aged stands.

Under IUCN’s Landscapes and Livelihoods Initiative funded by the Royal Netherlands Government, working with the Sino-German Financial Cooperation Project for Watershed Management on Forest Land, the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the Beijing Forestry Society (BFS) and the Beijing Parks and Forestry Department (BPFD) are enhancing rural livelihoods, promoting sustainable forest management, protecting critical watersheds and fostering appropriate policy changes.

The expectations are that these actions will lead to a better functioning watershed for Beijing and better livelihoods for local people. If these expectations are to be realized though, there needs to be a significant scaling up of work from selected pilot sites through evidence based advocacy programmes.

Nokia, a market leader in mobile devices aims to be a leading company in environmental performance. Its vision is a world where everyone being connected can contribute to sustainable development. With a user base of more than one billion people Nokia has a unique opportunity to make an impact that goes beyond its own activities. The company with a significant workforce based in the Beijing area and has stepped up to benefit biodiversity and people.

With its expertise in communications, Nokia will assist in integrating a range of knowledge generation, capacity building, planning and communication actions for local people in the Miyun County in a specially designed advocacy programme. It will support the collection of evidence, the crafting of key messages and the use of information and messages in an extensive advocacy campaign to make sure that the local residents and relevant organizations are aware and empowered with convincing evidence and knowledge for watershed management. Such advocacy is essential but missing in one of China’s most critical watersheds. The work is also relevant to another 5,000 similar watersheds in China, hence the Mi Yun programme will serve as a model for improvements in these watersheds.

This partnership will also promote opportunities for private sector participation in financing rural development and collaborative watershed management through payments for environmental services schemes which currently have limited effectiveness, making a positive contribution to the demonstration of landscape level planning and action that will help balance the interests of city and rural based stakeholders in watershed management.

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