"This is like a dream for an old environmentalist like me. The role provides a unique position to promote green policies in the most densely populated country in the world", says Randers.
Randers is aiming at radical, but sensible policy proposals that he thinks will be well received in the State Council of China – the country’s government.
The centre belongs to «Institute for Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era» and is part of a major knowledge initiative to report on possibilities for how to accelerate a green shift in China.
"The Chinese Constitution states that the country must be sustainable by 2050, and the Chinese authorities want suggestions on how to succeed with this."
A total of 10 centres have been established across the country, and through different approaches all of these will explore the possibilities of how to build an ecological civilization, which is the Chinese way of saying sustainable society. The centre led by Randers is affiliated with China’s most recognized university.
Years of experience in China
Randers has worked in China in a number of contexts throughout his career. During his time as President of BI, the school launched a management programme in China back in 1985. His book 2052 – A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years – was translated into 13 languages after it was published in 2012, and it sold especially well in China (90.000 copies).
"This book contributed to me being asked to serve as a consultant in connection with Shanghai‘s preparation of its “2050 plan”. In 2016-18 I was also involved in the work of the State Council of China to prepare a «Green Transition Strategy for China to 2050»".
Randers finds it interesting to work in a country with a government he thinks is viable and able to plan long term. He believes China will play a particularly important role in solving the climatic challenges the world is facing, exemplified by the country’s massive commitment to wind power and solar energy, as well as electric vehicles.
Part of a bigger Norwegian picture
Randers appointment to lead “Centre for the Ecological Civilization” comes in addition to two other appointments where Norwegians are involved in China’s sustainability efforts. Erik Solheim from the The Green party in Norway leads the coalition that aims to make the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative more environmentally friendly, and Vidar Helgesen from the Conservative Party of Norway serves as Vice Chair in the work the State Council of China is doing to remove plastic from the world’s oceans.
Randers is looking forward to starting the work, which he will carry out in cooperation with Zhou Jinfeng, who is the head of one of China’s most influential environmental NGOs, as well as a Chinese director who will operate the Centre when Randers is absent.