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Bamboo for Carbon Neutrality in Rural Areas: Launch of new three-year pilot activity in Chishui of China Danxia World Heritage site
2021-12-07 国际创意与可持续发展中心

China is a country with one of the world's most abundant bamboo resource, and ranks the top in number of bamboo species, span of bamboo forest coverage, bamboo raw material reserve and production. Bamboo has a long underground root system and can bind earth easily, and could recover degraded soil. Bamboo is also a quickly renewable resource that can be harvested every year in making various durable product in replacement of wood, concrete and steel. With its unique characteristics in fast carbon accumulation and effective carbon storage, bamboo is increasingly valued as an important natural carbon sink and a solution to ameliorating the global warming problem.

In China, especially the southern provinces, bamboo is a ubiquitous sight since ancient times in people's lives and cultures, and is widely used in architecture, gastronomy, attire, transportation, agricultural production, daily necessities, instruments, etc., which gave rise to many living heritages relevant to bamboo, including bamboo drifting national intangible cultural heritage, and Chishui bamboo weaving provincial intangible cultural heritage. In 2018, UNESCO Beijing Office launched the Chishui bamboo handicraft sustainable livelihood pilot activity within the framework of "Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China" Project Phase III (2017-2021) in collaboration with Chishui Natural World Heritage Management Bureau and International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR). In 2019, in the context of the cooperation between UNESCO Beijing Office and the Intangible Cultural Heritage Department of Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Chishui pilot activity was included under the support of the latter's "ICH for Poverty Alleviation" programme. Using bamboo weaving as an entry point, over the course of three years, the project has promoted the livelihood enhancement and coordinated rural-urban development in and around the World Heritage site through technical trainings, fostering of living heritage bearers within local communities, and empowering community-based work stations. The case study from Chishui was also included in UNESCO's recently published China World Heritage Capacity Building Manuals publication series.

As China makes the strategic transition from poverty alleviation to rural revitalisation in the 14th Five-Year Plan, which began from 2021, living heritage holds an increasingly larger potential in rural development as a unique and highly valuable cultural resource. Not only does living heritage provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that keep talented people in rural areas, it also synergises with other sectors and form new industries that expand the horizons of rural economic and social development.

In this context, UNESCO strengthens collaboration with INBAR within the framework of the new "Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China" Phase IV (2021-2024), and upgrades the Chishui pilot activity by the name of "Bamboo for Carbon Neutrality in Rural Areas". The upgraded Chishui pilot activity will systemise capacity building, enhance sustainability of bamboo handicraft production and coordination with community development through developing community training centres and curricula, facilitate vocational training on bamboo handicrafts, so that bamboo handicraft could be seen as a decent and "cool" work and that rural communities could be revitalised. The activity also responds to the global attention on climate change and China's ambitious targets of peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060, and undertakes pilot action on carbon reduction and low-carbon development in and around World Heritage site based on Chishui's bamboo resource, to explore ways of climate-responsible rural development and to enhance rural climate resilience.

On 1 December 2021, the first workshop of the "Bamboo for Carbon Neutrality in Rural Areas" Decent Employment Workshop Series opened in Chishui. The workshop was jointly organized by UNESCO and INBAR, and supported by Guizhou Province Forestry Administration, Chishui Municipal People's Government and Chishui Forestry Bureau. On the opening session of the Decent Employment Workshop series on bamboo weaving, Ms. Himalchuli Gurung, Programme Specialist for Culture of UNESCO Beijing Office, Mr. Li Wenfa, Deputy Director of the World Heritage Office from Guizhou Forestry Administration, Mr. Zhang Hongtao, Level III Counselor of Chishui Municipal Government have delivered opening remarks.  Ms. Lu Ye, Project Officer for Culture of UNESCO Beijing Office, Ms. Li Yanxia, Senior Programme Officer of INBAR, Professor Jin Jiangbo from Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, and Ms. Yang Changqin, living heritage bearer of Chishui bamboo weaving have delivered technical presentations respectively.

During the one-month training, Ms. Yang Changqin, provincial living heritage bearer of Chishui bamboo weaving, and her team will train 25 participants (100% women), including registered poverty households, left-behind women, persons with disabilities, relocated settlement residents, ethnic minorities and local villagers, on three-dimensional bamboo weaving skills. Participants will also raise awareness on the topics of heritage conservation, double carbon targets, rural revitalisation strategy, and living heritage and creativity.

This workshop shall open a series of community-based workshops that build capacity of local cooperative members and stakeholders in bamboo weaving skills, creative design, digital marketing, organisational management, etc., so that they have adequate technical skills and knowledge for decent employment. In addition, the project also plans to implement research on carbon fixation through bamboo forest in and around the World Heritage site and on carbon reduction potentials of cultural products, in contribution to the attainment of the double carbon targets by 2060.