“I realised we had been destroying the natural environment to make ends meet,” explains Zhang Shiyun, a fisherman turned poacher who now works as a ranger at China’s Lake Hong Wetland Reserve. “I took inspiration from this moment of understanding.”

Mr Zhang is speaking in a new film that highlights how HSBC and WWF, the global conservation organisation, are together helping to restore and safeguard the lakes and habitats surrounding the Yangtze River in China.

Income from fishing has risen dramatically, no matter what species are being fished. The fishermen are now happy and I am happy, too

Back in 2003 Lake Hong had been severely damaged by unsustainable fishing and farming practices. Supported by HSBC, WWF is working with the local community and government to help the lake and its surrounding area recover.

“The wetland is growing again,” says Mr Zhang. “The water has become clearer. Income from fishing has risen dramatically, no matter what species are being fished. The fishermen are now happy and I am happy, too.”

Local communities have historically relied on the Yangtze – the world’s third-longest river – for drinking water, farming, fishing and transportation. Today, however, unprecedented economic growth, industrialisation and rapid urbanisation are putting a strain on the river’s ecosystems. With HSBC’s backing, WWF is working with 70 businesses to tackle pollution in the Yangtze basin, protecting lakes and 240,000 sq km of wetlands that serve more than 30 million people.

HSBC is also supporting many other water projects around the world through its USD100 million Water Programme. The bank is working with three global non-governmental organisations – WWF, Earthwatch and WaterAid – to support scientific research, safe water and sanitation, and freshwater management. Some USD35 million of this amount is allocated to charities managing local water projects.

Since it launched in 2012, the HSBC Water Programme has helped more than a million people in Asia and West Africa to gain access to safe water. In addition, more than 5,000 HSBC employees have been trained to collect information about freshwater resources in their local community.

Find out more about the HSBC Water Programme.

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