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Building A Healthier, Happier China

The Institute's Partner, He Yiqing, Helps Her Hometown Adapt To A Changing World

Changing the world is hard, particularly if you are one of more than a billion people in your country. Yet, we always remember that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, because that’s the only thing that ever has. He (Aqing) Yiqing knows this firsthand.

Back in 2010, she looked around her hometown of Xiaolan, a small, but industrial town in the province of Guangdong, not all that far from Hong Kong, and realized the town needed to transform to adapt to a rapidly changing world. While some people point out problems, leaders find ways to solve them.

I bet you can guess what  Aqing is.

Knowing what she wanted to accomplish, but not fully understanding how to get it done, she reached out to the Institute through the “US-China Partnership for Climate Action (PCA)” program to gain access to the skills and knowledge she needed to push Xiaolan toward a low carbon future. It was tough at first. He Yiqing saw how city officials and residents in her region struggled to transform national climate commitments to action; and how could they, when there was no plan in place tailored to the unique economic and environmental makeup of her community? She saw a need to improve literacy on low-carbon topics and partnered with the Institute to found the Xiaolan Center, a nonprofit dedicated to engaging with local residents and giving them the tools they need to change Xiaolan in a way that benefits every citizen, not just a select few. In just its first few years, the center’s achievements are nothing short of remarkable. Rooftop solar panels continue to pop up across Zhongshan. The community is striving to build a pilot net-zero carbon community, leading by example to showcase how it could be done.  
He Yiqing Xiolan
Aqing is, of course, a remarkable person. But she’s not alone in China. During its tenure, the PCA program and following programs conducted similar work across the country in more than 20 cities. Funders like the USAID and Energy Foundation China helped us ensure that Aqing’s story is just the first chapter in a larger book. For the Institute, that next chapter takes shape through the China Deep Decarbonization and Equitable Long-term Strategies Alliance (DELTA) program. Aqing and other community leaders like her laid the foundation for what climate equity looks like in China. Now we need to keep the momentum going by supporting hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens, many of whom are among the hardest hit by the climate crisis, as they journey toward a cleaner, healthier, and happier tomorrow, shaped and shared by all.  

Learn more about the Institute’s work in China, and stay tuned for updates on our DELTA program.

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