To promote the sustainable development of economy and environment

Adhere to conceptual innovation and improve social governance at the community level in the capital city

2020-05-20 13:05Source: 中文

On February 26, 2014, during General Secretary Xi Jinping’s visit in Beijing, he clearly defined the strategic positioning of the capital city, requiring in-depth implementation of the “humanistic Beijing”, “technologically-advanced Beijing”, and “green Beijing” strategies, improvement of the urban management system and management level. As the national capital and a super-large city, Beijing actively innovates ideas, strives to build a world-class harmonious and livable capital, and strives to build a modern city governance system that is compatible with it. At present, it is significant both theoretically and practically to integrate the accomplishments, experience, and problems of community-level governance in the capital, adhere to the ideas of ecosystem engineering and apply the concept of ecological humanistic society while focusing on improving social governance at the community level, in order to further improve management of the capital city and form a new pattern of capital social governance of "co-construction, co-governance, shared developments" .

Experience and Problems of Community-level Social Governance in the Capital

The communities are the basic building blocks of a social system. Generally speaking, the communities include two levels of meaning: "One refers to the lowest level of state power organs and government agencies; the other refers to the basic social system that has the most direct connections with social production and social life. 1 Specifically, the community-level includes towns (streets) and communities (administrative villages) under the jurisdiction of the area, enterprises and institutions (such as schools, shopping malls, hospitals), neighborhoods, shops, etc. These are places where people's daily work and life are closely dependent, as well as the deep foundation and important support of social governance. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that "The most solid force of the Party's work is supported at the community level, and the most prominent contradictions and problems of economic and social development and people's livelihood are also at the community level. It is necessary to view the construction of the communities as a long-term and consolidating strategy, and always treat it with full attention." Therefore, the communities are the composite entity carrier of state governance and social governance.

In recent years, in the process of improving the governance system of the capital and focusing on community governance in mega cities, Beijing has explored a series of community governance experience and achieved good social results. First, it has launched special brands such as "Whistle to Respond" to take care of “the last mile” issue in urban community governance, and promoted popular folk brands such as "street janitors", "old neighborhoods", "Chaoyang Masses"[1], "Xicheng Dama"[2]. It has focused on meeting the needs of the people through practical methods and various forms of democratic consultation, such as hearings, conferences, consultations, etc., and focused on public affairs and aimed at solving problems through consultations, which achieved positive results. Second, it has expanded the channels for reporting the demands of the people and promoted active governance, forming a Beijing model. From" Public complaints processed without delay " to "Taking the initiative to hear the complaints”, from waiting for appeals to looking for appeals, from "what do the masses want me to" to "what can I do for the masses" – these are one step forward that forms proactive governance, putting on a new look for communities. Moreover, the "dual report" system requires Party members to report to the communities, playing a leading role of Party members, and directly serving the communities. Thirdly, Beijing has utilized gridization, digitalization, and advanced technologies to ensure community governance. "Multi-network integration" strategy including urban management network, social service management network, social security network, and comprehensive urban-management law enforcement network has been carried forward in streets and towns to build a new social governance system that is coordinated and integrated, and to form a basic platform for social governance at community level with the support of digitalization. On the whole, in recent years, the capital has proceeded from the perspective of community governance, highlighted problem orientation, reformed and improved the community governance system and mechanism, and explored a whole set of effective governance methods. Comprehensive governance capacity of the streets and rural areas has been improved; stubborn obstacles in governance has been removed and remarkable results achieved. This not only reflects the city's courage to reform and innovate, but also reflects the wisdom of the capital people in the process of community governance.

At the same time, we must also see that Beijing still has some problems in urban management. The capacity of urban management, urban operation, and environmental construction is still insufficient. There is still a gap between the reality and the new requirements of the Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government for the development of the capital, as well as people’s new expectations of a better living environment. In particular, the "ecosystem, humanistic society, human settlement environment" of the city needs to be further improved, such as how to further refine, specify, and professionalize to achieve humanization and promote rule of law at the same time. The ecological and environmental problems of the communities need to be further addressed, for example, the domestic garbage problem that the masses are very concerned about. The implementation of the “Beijing Domestic Waste Management Regulations” since May 1, 2020 helps to deal with garbage sorting and recycling in Beijing. However, how to fully implement the regulations is still a problem to be solved.. The human settlement environment needs to be further improved, for example, how to solve the current problems in property management. There are still some weak points in community-level ecological environment management. For instance, some towns and streets are unable to do proactive research and analysis on their ecological environment issues, and thus unable to remedy defects and make up for the shortages.

Beijing is the capital of the country. Being the first to achieve ecological civilization in the capital and do a good job of environmental protection and ecological humanistic society construction in Beijing is not only an urgent need of the people of the capital, but also a requirement to maintain and improve national reputation and national image.

"Ecological humanistic social environment" theory

In today's world, human urgently needs to apply ecological ideas and theories and adjust the relationship between man and material, man and spiritual culture, man and society, man and natural resources and the environment, so as to make them a dynamic and balanced ecosystem in which harmony, symbiosis, co-prosperity, and sustainable development are promoted. According to the five basic principles of ecology: "material recycling, biodiversity, dynamic coordination and balance, individual and global integrity, system engineering", combining objective needs of human social development to reshape the relationship between economic development and the ecological environment, and vigorously promoting the ecological economy, will be conducive to changing the production and consumption mode, balancing economic boom and environmental protection, material civilization and spiritual civilization, and natural ecology and human ecology, and thus achieving a highly integrated and sustainable economic mode. It also reminds us to follow the rules of ecology and economy, utilize natural resources rationally, and hold on to a ecosystem perspective to build a shared future of people and nature, people and society, nature and society, as well as people and people.

The so-called "ecological humanistic social environment" is the concept formed by ecological thinking plus systematic engineering construction methods. It is a collection of "ecology, humanities, human settlement", including ecological system, humanistic society, and human settlement environment.

System engineering is “a scientific method for the planning, researching, designing, producing, testing, and utilizing of organizational and managerial 'systems'. It is a scientific method that has universal significance for all 'systems'. 2 (Qian Xuesen: "On Systems Engineering (New Century Edition)", Shanghai, Shanghai Jiaotong University Press, 2007, p.3.) Society is the sum of the relationships formed by people and the environment, and an integration of individuals living together and connected through various associations. People affect the society, and the society in turn affects people, which pushes us to promote social harmony and form a good ecological community between people and the society. In community-level society, there exist an ecological relationship of interdependence, mutual promotion and mutual development between cadres and the people, residents and residents, property companies and proprietors, tenants, supermarkets and consumers, hotels, attractions and guests, etc.. Understanding ecological thinking and upholding a “shared future” awareness with the ecosystem is conducive in creating a wonderful world of symbiosis, co-existence, and co-prosperity.

The meaning of "humanism" is embodied in the values of valuing, respecting, and caring for people, that is, the cultural characteristics of appreciating "human." What the humanistic society is pursuing is "people-oriented", encouraging good values of virtue and noble sentiment, including proper customary norms, ethical norms, and legal norms. From a humanistic perspective, it is required that governance at the community level must be people-oriented, people's appeals must be actively responded, and their needs met. Community-level staff must change the style of work fundamentally, focus on serving the people, master the methods of mass work, and respect the people’s principal position in the country. Emphasizing humanism as the core is to make community-level work the "preventor", to proactively resolve problems, proactively eliminate hidden dangers, take the initiative, and change the work mode of passively listening to instructions and waiting for directions and other documents.

"Human settlement", as it implies, is a place where people gather and live together, where they survive and perform activities. A human settlement environment is the space and places for human’s work and labor, living and recreation, and social interaction. Emphasizing the concept of human settlement environment is to deeply understand and grasp the objective rules of human settlement needs and development, so as to create better conditions of streets, communities, shops, scenic areas, public facilities and public spaces that meet the needs of the people in the governance of community society.

To create an ecological humanistic social environment, we need to actively explore new practices of community-level ecological humanistic social governance. Proceeding from the perspective of the ecological humanistic social environment, we must also uphold the people’s principal position, apply the theory and methods of system engineering to study the entire process and evolution of community-level social governance, and propose methods and technical means of controlling, regulating and self-regulating. In additional, we must implement the "ecological humanistic social environment" concept through the three organisms "ecosystem, humanistic society, human settlement environment", take measures focusing on the goals of community governance, and promote the formation of a new community-level social governance pattern in the capital.

The practical approach to improve capital community-level governance

First of all, party construction should play a leading role in accelerating the scientification and cyberization at the community level, and exert synergy. Community-level party building has an important strategic position in the entire party construction work, shouldering the historical mission of mobilizing and organizing people to realize the Chinese dream, deepening leadership and adapting the arduous mission of comprehensive reform and the brand-new mission of further exerting the role of the party's pioneer and exemplary role in the transformation of social structure.3 (Li Junru: "New Mission and New Tasks for Community-level Party Construction", People's Daily, "People's Forum", No. 22, 2013.) By building a modern governance system, in particular, further promoting the participation of social forces in social governance and building a new "Party construction+ business" model in the new era will effectively promote the progress of community-level ecological humanistic social governance.

To this end, it is necessary to take the "red empowerment" party construction work as a banner, make use of the professional advantages of social organizations as an important starting point for party construction work, and promote their active participation in economic and social activities. Party Committees and Discipline Inspection Committees must dare to report the malpractices in the work to relevant departments to contain discipline, and use the party's discipline to correct unhealthy tendencies so as to provide support and a source of power for community social work. It is also important to focus on integrating social resources in party building work, grasping the working methods of interconnection within and outside the system, and maximizing the integration of social forces and utilization of resources.

At the same time, we must adhere to and improve the thoughts of social governance of “co-construction, co-governance, shared developments”. Social governance is the co-governance of social subjects under the leadership of the party committee and the government. The governance method has changed from the previous one-way management to the benign interaction of multiple participators. With more subjects under the leadership of the party, we should strengthen and innovate community-level social governance in a more diverse manner, so as to build a social governance community where “everyone has responsibility, everyone fulfills duty, and everyone benefits from it" Party committee’s leadership is the prerequisite; government responsibility is the key; democratic consultation is the mechanism; social synergy is the means; public participation is the principal part; guarantee of the rule of law is the foundation; and technological support is the condition. Multiple participators and concerted efforts will fully stimulate the vitality of social organizations and the creativity of the people to participate in governance, forming a social governance pattern of co-construction, co-governance and shared developments.

Secondly, we should create a example of Beijing's "ecological and humanistic streets, communities, shops, scenic spots" and other social governance examples, and promote demonstration effects of community-level ecological humanistic social governance. Guided by the requirements of the modernization of national governance systems and governance capabilities, we should introduce system engineering ideas and construct an ecological and humanistic social governance model at the community level, encourage support for social forces to go directly to the community level, establish an "ecological, harmonious, humanistic, best, livable” example and play a leading role in the society.

In the work, we should take the opportunity to create a new era of socialist ecological civilization with Chinese characteristics and actively explore the path of ecological civilization construction in the capital, especially to strengthen the weak links at the community level in terms of ecological awareness, humanistic environment, harmony and livability. We should break the traditional system barriers, combine the "top-down" top-level design with the "bottom-up" community-level governance, and extensively promote the model of ecological humanistic social governance, and support ecological humanities demonstration at the community level.

In the process of creating an "ecological humanistic social environment demonstration model", a third-party social assessment mechanism can be introduced to examine the effectiveness and role of street offices, neighborhood committees, community property companies and other parties, and implement a mass scoring mechanism, which is rewarded or encouraged by the government to stimulate the residents to participate, effectively promote the formation of an "autonomic, self-construct, sharing" system of communities. It is also feasible to further disclose government information, unblock inquiry channels, and establish the prestige of legislative governance for community-level social governance. It is worth notice that in the creation of ecological humanistic social governance model, we must be problem-orientated, pinpoint the problem, and take targeted measures.

Thirdly, we will further leverage the operational capabilities of social organizations and the advantages of professional social service management. As an important subject of pluralistic co-governance, mass autonomous organizations and professional organizations are playing an increasingly positive role in the practice of community social governance.

The government should implement policies to guide and encourage social organizations to develop, connect or operate professional services in ecological environment maintenance, ecological civilization construction, and bringing quality to ecological humanistic society. It should also provide personalized, specialized, and precise services to the communities. Introducing social organizations to operate at the communities is firstly conducive to exerting advantages of social organizations, prevent and detect problems in the ecological humanistic social environment, and promptly carry out professional plans to tackle the problems. With proficiency of social forces, extensive resources, and top-down advantages, we will be able to solve the problem in its infancy. Secondly, it is also conducive to exercise more comprehensive supervision of community work. The investigations and feedback of social organizations in community work are helpful for the discipline inspection and supervision department to provide timely guidance to prevent community personnel and interests from ossifying. Breaking the barriers and avoiding the phenomenon of "do nothing when nothing happens, behave irresponsibly when something happens" at the community level is also conducive to training responsible and capable community cadres. Thirdly, it is to help the third-party of social organizations to use their professional capabilities to better analyze national policies and measures, to avoid "deformation and distortion" in the implementation of policies at the community level, and to effectively resolve or reduce problems caused by information asymmetry or misunderstanding in grass-roots levels. Fourth, it is conducive to using social organizations as a platform to introduce economic, humanistic, environmental, legal, loving, intermediary and other professional volunteers to practice at the community level, especially in conjunction with measures such as party members returning to the community, and to implement counterpart volunteer work at the community level, thereby exerting their respective professional advantages. Fifth, it is conducive to carrying out work directly through the social organizations at the community level and giving full play to the on-demand customization method of the community work.

Continuously improving the level of community-level social governance in the capital is an important issue in the new era. We must continue to innovate ideas and methods, implement the targeted thinking of "one street, one policy" and "one community, one policy", play an exemplary role of demonstration, actively promote the establishment of brand projects for community governance, and stimulate social participation to form a new pattern of community social governance in the capital in the new era, so as to build a high-quality ecological humanistic social environment, and continue to make greater contributions to the improvement of the capital's community social governance.

【Authors】 Li Junyang, IEEPA Executive Vice President ,Senior Researcher of the Beijing International Ecological Economic Promotion Association, researcher of the Environmental Science and Engineering Research Institute of Tsinghua University; Li Junru, former vice president of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China, chairman of the Central and State Organs Overseas Chinese Federation