What the project aims to achieve is the recognition of the Great Wall as a living ecosystem, showing a different picture of the Wall, namely not the architectural nor historical sight, instead the human and natural ecosystem, exploring human activities in the area and understanding how they interact with the natural environment and the Wall and how these three elements are or can become mutually beneficial. During the fieldwork there will be a comprehensive observation and collection of information about the cultural peculiarities and natural uniqueness of the ecosystem. The project aims at correctly produce an innovative interpretation of the issue itself.

While travelling along the provinces, another purpose will be that of exploring Sino-European cultural relations through a bottom-up approach, showing that cooperation between two passionate foreigners and local long-established communities can be mutually beneficial, especially if the common aim is the conservation of an ecosystem, which is also a world heritage. Increase awareness on the importance of conservation, sustainable development, tourism sustainability, value and respect of local cultures, and on the close ties between nature and cultural heritage is another main goal. This goes well along with the aim of fostering Great Wall ecosystem environmental preservation through sharing positive practices and new solutions abiding from mutual dialogue and common experiences. Collecting and sharing views, tools, experience and examples of various local communities on development opportunities while respecting and conserving the environment, in order to conduct sustainable activities. 

All of this will be made stressing the splendor and variety of rural local cultures in China, less famous than touristic sights, nonetheless characterized by an equally relevant cultural heritage, fostering their conservation. Understanding whether habits, food, typical products, myths and beliefs of various communities living along different spots of the Wall share similarities due to this common characteristic; in other terms, the goal consists of understanding whether the Ming Dynasty Wall has been a “Great Road” connecting and influencing distant communities living along it. We intend to encourage this new study approach integration to existing ones.

At the end of the day, inspiring explorers and dreamers of all ages, showing that even small steps may have a positive impact on a wider community, is the final reason why this initiative came to life. The aim is to show that the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is not just a common saying, instead it can become true with the right balance between passion, reason and preparation.



Friends on the Wall

Elodie Cardonnet and Stefano Sartorio are the creators of the BaiYiBu - Ten Billion Steps project, aiming at fostering the preservation and conservation of the China's Great Wall ecosystem. Sharing a common background in their studies and a strong passion for Chinese culture and society, they decided to undertake this initiative in order to build connections through cultures and to help understand the country's most interesting and unique dynamics. The Great wall is their road and their feet are the only way to travel through it.


Lets know them a little bit more!


Elodie Cardonnet


Elodie (陆乐敏) is a policy analyst, graduated in International Relations and enrolled in a Master in "Contemporary China Studies" at Silk Road School (Renmin University, Suzhou Campus) and a Master in "Sustainable Development, Resource Geopolitics, and Arctic Studies" (SIOI). She is passionate about diplomacy, China Studies, environment protection, and outdoor activities. She first had the chance to visit Badaling section of the Great Wall when she was only 17 years old, and she immediately realized that her biggest dream and goal in life would be to hike along the whole Ming Dynasty Great Wall, to explore step by step the greatness of such timeless treasure.

There were two turning points for her and for the project: meeting Stefano, a friend who enthusiastically embraced the idea, and a late-autumn camping on the Great Wall, when she was a student in Renmin University of China. BaiYiBu – Ten Billion Step is a project that combines all her passions – China, nature and culture. Helping in fostering environmental protection and spreading multicultural awareness of this unique ecosystem is more than a project goal, as for her it would be the greatest possible achievement in life. ​



Stefano Sartorio

Stefano (孙夫朔) has background studies in International Relations and is specializing in Chinese history, society and foreign policy. In 2017 he founded an international association called "Mondo Internazionale" in order to train and promote young people all around the world. Moreover, he collaborates with two think tanks in Italy researching about China. He has been in the country twice, in 2017 and in 2019. He also studied at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

The inspiration for this project came after meeting Elodie during his studies at Renmin. For him, having the chance of developing BaiYiBu -Ten Billion Steps is a dream coming true. After his first camping on the Great Wall he felt in love with one of the ancient wonders of the world.  His goal in fostering the initiative is to increase the knowledge of the complex ecosystem surrounding the wall with the aim of fostering its preservation.

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