Successful practices introduced in environmentally friendly provinces in the past decade are to be promoted by the central government in an attempt to create a better environment by 2020 - a major goal for the national eco-civilisation road map.
Such experiences could guide other areas to pursue development balanced between economic growth and environmental protection, and turn central government initiatives into reality, Chen Jining, the minister of environmental protection said on Thursday.
For example, Zhejiang province has promoted the circular economy in industrial and agricultural production, and set up industrial zones to deal with pollutants from companies.
Following comprehensive efforts made since 2003, when it became an environmentally friendly province, 63.8 per cent of the surface water quality was classified as having reached the "third level" last year, meaning water with little pollution.
This was up from 41.9 per cent in 2004, said a report from the province on Thursday.
Other environmentally friendly provinces have seen improvements by making the best use of their economies.
Jiangsu has closed about 7,000 polluting chemical industries while encouraging energy-conservation industries with preferential policies. The revenues of these industries increased by 20 per cent year-on-year to reach 580 billion yuan ($94 billion) last year.
The number of smoggy days in the province fell by 44 per cent last year, said Xu Jinrong, Jiangsu's deputy governor.
In 2000, the State Council launched a national project to establish environmentally friendly provinces. In addition to Zhejiang and Jiangsu, another 14 provinces, including Fujian and Liaoning, are listed in the project.
Chen said the 16 provinces need to summarize their experiences during the period, and the ministry will promote such efforts in more areas amid national efforts to develop a low-carbon eco-civilisation.
On May 5, the State Council released the first main guideline on eco-civilisation development, with detailed goals and a timeline for environmental improvement.
The guideline states that China has encountered significant problems, such as limited resources and severe pollution, which are major obstacles to sustainable growth.
By 2020, China will see a clear improvement from efforts to combat air, water and soil pollution, it said.