So by now you’re pretty curious, and you want to know exactly what is meant by ecological civilisation. The concept ‘ecological civilisation’ is a direct translation of the Chinese term 生态文明 – 生态 = ecology; 文明 = civilisation – and that’s how we got the term. Now, due to the way languages naturally seek brevity, ecological civilisation is often shortened to eco-civilisation, and then of course the natural progression to eco-civ. The first time you hear it, it may sound a little odd – that’s because of a difference between the Western concept ‘civilisation’ and the Chinese concept of ‘文明’ – so here is an excerpt from my thesis which helps explain what it all means.


The Chinese concept of civilisation can be used in the same sense as in English, which has its roots in the notion of the city. In Chinese, however, 文明 can also be about self-cultivation, about becoming civilised. Thus 生态文明 can also mean ecologically civilised, and that’s where it can become a little odd to the non-Chinese speaker. So just think of civilisation more in terms of as an action then a place – the process of becoming ecologically civilised rather than as an end point.