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October 22, 2002
WRI Promotes Sustainable Business in China
    by William Baue

The World Resources Institute has launched a project that will support green business initiatives in China.

Earlier this month, the World Resources Institute (WRI) launched the New Ventures China project. The project provides funding to sustainable business initiatives in the areas of organic agriculture, renewable energy, and clean technology. WRI cites several reasons why sustainability critically important in China. The Chinese economy serves a vast population of 1.3 billion and has grown, on average, by more than ten percent annually over the last quarter century. Economic activity to support this growth has pillaged China's natural resources and damaged its environment.

"Growth in production that is both profitable and clean is a necessity for China," said WRI President Jonathan Lash. "Through WRI's New Ventures project, we hope to connect capital to outstanding investment opportunities that will generate social and environmental benefits."

WRI is a Washington, DC-based environmental policy research organization that initiated the New Ventures project three years ago in Latin America. New Ventures connects environmental entrepreneurs with investors in order to accelerate the transfer of capital to investments that incorporate social and environmental benefits. Seven Latin American projects have received a total of $4.4 million, with another $3.4 million currently under negotiation. For the New Ventures China project, WRI partnered with Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) International, an independent nonprofit that promotes sustainable development. Citigroup (ticker: C) is sponsoring the project.

"As one of the world's most attractive investment destinations, we want to help China's sustainable business entrepreneurs find the investments they need," said New Ventures Project Director Luiz Ros. "Economic prosperity should not necessarily mean environmental degradation--in fact, investing in sustainable enterprises makes good business sense."

Entrepreneurs from Beijing, Guangdong, Shandong, Henan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Heilongjiang will be submitting their business plans for consideration. New Ventures China will award professional consulting services to the most promising business plans in the three sectors of organic agriculture, renewable energy, and clean technology. A New Ventures Forum will be held next year in China, where interested investors will meet with the chosen enterprises.

The New Ventures China project represents an important opportunity for social investors who have expressed concern about human rights and the environmental situation in China. It may well be a rare opportunity to promote a brand of capitalism that supports worker rights as well as environmental protection.


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