Barriers to the Implementation of Environmental Policies at the Local Level in China

51 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: August 1, 2014


China's national leaders have recently made a priority of changing lanes from a pollution-intensive, growth-at-any-cost model to a resource-efficient and sustainable one. The immense challenges of rapid urbanization are one aspect of the problem. Central-local government relations are another source of challenges, since the central government's green agenda does not always find willing followers at lower levels. This paper identifies barriers to a more comprehensive implementation of environmental policies at the local level in China's urban areas and suggests ways to reduce or remove them. The research focuses particularly on the reasons for the gap between national plans and policy outcomes. Although environmental goals and policies at the national level are quite ambitious and comprehensive, insufficient and inconsistent local level implementation can hold back significant improvements in urban environmental quality. By analyzing local institutional and behavioral obstacles and by highlighting best-practice examples from China and elsewhere, the paper outlines options that can be used at the national and local levels to close the local "environmental implementation gap." The findings emphasize the need to create additional incentives and increase local implementation capacities.

Keywords: City to City Alliances, Urban Economics, Educational Policy and Planning - Decentralization, Urban Communities, Social Accountability, Regional Governance, Environmental Management, Environmental Governance, Educational Institutions & Facilities, Local Government, National Urban Development Policies & Strategies, Regional Urban Development, Environmental Strategy, Urban Economic Development

Suggested Citation

Kostka, Genia, Barriers to the Implementation of Environmental Policies at the Local Level in China (August 1, 2014). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7016, Available at SSRN:

Genia Kostka (Contact Author)

Freie Universität, Berlin ( email )

Boltzmannstr. 3
Berlin, 14195

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