Our History


Established in 2001, Partnerships for Community Development (PCD) explores ways to foster sustainable living in China, with a geographical emphasis on the Southwest, as well as national and regional programmes.


PCD mapped out its first Strategic Plan (2002-2005): setting as its clear programme goals Sustainable Livelihoods; Basic Social Services; Equity and Diversity; and Micro-macro Linkages. Nurturing community facilitators was defined as PCD’s basic programme approach; and PCD defined its geographical priorities as Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangdong, while also developing national and regional initiatives in major municipalities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.


PCD embarked on a wider range of programmes: feasibility studies on urban-rural mobility, providing support for rural-urban migrant workers before and after migration, improving sustainable livelihoods capacity in communities, and introducing the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to support learning about sustainable living.


A total of 50 projects were carried out, addressing themes such as participatory approaches and action research, indigenous knowledge and culture, good governance in the rural context, ecological agriculture, CSA, and volunteerism and capacity building with NGOs and community groups. PCD’s first provincial field office was set up in Chengdu, overseeing work in Sichuan Province, including the establishment of a Healthy Agriculture learning network for volunteers through field visits, rural research, workshops, urban farming, communal purchasing and a book club.


PCD launched its three-year Strategic Planning process, focusing on cultural reflection, eco-health and sustainable living. A new set of working approaches was created through inter-programme learning. About 100 people attended the conference ‘Cultural Reflection & Rural Construction’, in Guangxi, with their discussions forming the basis of the Chinese-language publication: Earth in Deep Thoughts. PCD began exploring youth development work, and started its youth internship programme.


The mainland China working team was formed, and the second provincial field office was set up in Guiyang to coordinate and manage programmes in Guizhou Province. The first edition of PCD’s e-newsletter was published, originally named ‘Healthy Agriculture’, now appearing as Fragrant Soil.


A comprehensive review and plan of PCD’s programme work was conducted, extending the Strategic Plan (2005-2008) to 2010. The Cultural Reflection approach was reinforced and incorporated into the primary approach. After reviewing and evaluating the experience of eco-agricultural programmes in the Southwest, PCD formally adopted ecological agriculture as a programme focus. The rural-urban migration programme was terminated, and the issue of migrant workers was integrated into the rural programme. Exchange on Traditional Cultural Inheritance was organised in Guizhou Province, which helped PCD to gain a clearer understanding of Cultural Reflection concepts.


More than 200 programmes were implemented in urban and rural areas, and PCD set up its third provincial field office, in Kunming, Yunnan Province. In response to communities being affected by the severe earthquake in Sichuan, a three-year rehabilitation programme was formulated, focusing on livelihoods restoration and cultural rehabilitation. PCD introduced Eco-village Design Education (EDE) training, explored Nature Education, and officially launched Fragrant Soil, a publication on sustainable living.


PCD mapped out its new Strategic Plan (2010-2015) and formally established sustainable living as its organisational mission, revising the mission statement from "To work in partnership with disadvantaged communities and marginalised groups on capacity building for community-based development in a way that fosters self-reliance, reduces inequality, and respects local cultures and the environment." to "PCD works with communities to re-connect people’s hearts with nature and to explore ways to live sustainably."


Strategic Planning (2010-2015) commenced and established five programme foci: Respect for Nature, Ecological Agriculture, Local Economy, Holistic Health and Learning about Sustainable Living. All colleagues gathered in Guizhou Province to discuss alternative development in the context of climate change and to reflect on people’s relationship with nature. PCD launched the Ecovillage Design Education course, the first of its kind.


PCD celebrated its 10th anniversary. The Sichuan office opened a community art network building programme; the first Self-Awareness and Social Transformation learning was launched in mainland China; and the Cross-Strait Youth Facilitators Internship Exchange programme began.


Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden and PCD organised a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) symposium attended by 120 people from across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, building a solid network of CSA practitioners.


The Long-term Direction (LTD) was mapped out, in which PCD’s niche and presence was redefined as an integration of the four key perspectives. This niche identification emphasises PCD’s unique profile, connecting community and grassroots capacity with culture, inner strength and practising what we preach. One direction is to re-position PCD as an integral part of the growing network of sustainable living organisations and practitioners, adopt a non-anthropocentric organisational philosophy, and to identify five programme foci: Wisdom of Nature, Ecological Agriculture, Community Economy, Sustainable Living Network, Traditional Knowledge and Innovation. PCD completed its registration with the Department of Civil Affairs in Yunnan Province in compliance with the Yunnan Province Provisional Regulations Standardising the Activities of Overseas Non-Governmental Organisations. PCD received a Kumquat Award as one of the top five overseas foundations with the highest evaluation. Field offices in Nanning and Guangzhou were set up, to oversee work in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Guangdong Province. Revival and Resilience- Community Stories in China was published.


Progress against the Strategic Plan (2010 – 2015) was mapped and evaluated, consensus on the organisation’s Theory of Change was built: Building Inner Strength, Facilitating Cultural Reflection, Network Building, and Nurturing Community Facilitators. PCD brought together community workers from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to share their agricultural experiences, which were published in Taking Root: Vitalising Community Supported Agriculture (in Chinese).


At the annual management team planning meeting, PCD prepared for future transformation with regard to the organisation’s LTD vision, positioning and strategic action beyond 2017. A new consensus was formed in relation to sustainable living: Based on a gratitude for the oneness of all things, we encourage and bring together people with diverse backgrounds who strive to explore alternative ways of living, to build small and beautiful, decentralised, and interconnected networks for sustainable living. The local practice of PCD’s teams shall be strengthened to popularise the sustainable living movement. Nearly 70 people across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan participated in the Regional Communication Workshop on Ecological Agriculture and CSA at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, discussing the links between eco-agriculture and CSA development with focus on the issues of mass communication; sharing ecology of media and approaches in communications in the different regions, and also the role of communications in social awareness transformation.


PCD’s programme team in mainland China was transformed, streamlining staff into a Rural Team, an Urban Team, an Integrated Capacity Building Team, an Administrative Team and the Representative Office in Beijing. PCD closed its five field offices in South China.


PCD was granted the Foreign NGO Representative Office Registration Certificate by Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and became one of the first batch of overseas NGOs supervised by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP, which was superseded by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in March 2018). The PCD Representative Office was officially opened in Beijing. The Rural Programme was restructured into the Southwestern Rural Programme, overseeing both traditional and urbanised rural communities. Collaborating with the China Ecological Civilisation Research and Promotion Association, PCD held the China Ecological Civilisation Forum Huizhou Annual Conference – Rural Revitalization and Ecological Agriculture Sub-forum.


A mid-term review of the Strategic Plan (2015-2020) was conducted. PCD supported partners to participate in the Mountain Futures Conference held in Kunming, and the publication Mountain Futures compiled by the World Agroforestry Centre. The 10th issue of Fragrant Soil was published.


PCD mapped out its Extended Strategic Plan (2020-2023), launched an exploration into a sustainable living network in Hong Kong, initiated an internship programme for youth across Southeast Asia, and published When Cultural Reflection Meets Agriculture - Facilitator’s Note from the Field (in Chinese) to share its rural work experience over the previous ten years.