Published: 11:15, May 6, 2024
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China and Europe cooperate for water security in the future
By Hou Liqiang

China and Europe after a sustained, pragmatic, and in-depth cooperation on water governance, have both made significant contributions to cope with the world's escalating water security challenges, an official with the Ministry of Water Resources said.

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Xu Jing, deputy director general of the ministry's Department of International Cooperation, Science, and Technology, depicted a long history of close and friendly cooperation in water resources management between China and European countries.

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"Since the launch of the China-EU River Basin Management Program in 2007, China and Europe have carried out in-depth research and extensive exchanges in river basin management, flood prevention and mitigation, groundwater management and measures responding to climate change.

"Aside from implementing extensive personnel exchanges and visits, they have also translated and published a series of policy documents and technical manuals," she said.

Xu noted the establishment of the China-Europe Water Platform in 2012 as an important event that marked the beginning of a significant leap forward for the two sides in promoting eco-friendly cooperation in the water resources governance sector.

Since then, the two sides have conducted rich pragmatic activities, with focuses on policy exchange, scientific research, and business exchanges, the official noted.

She said China and Europe have held nine ministerial-level dialogues and jointly issued five ministerial-level declarations, let alone numerous meetings of the platform's Joint Steering Committee and other exchange programs.

Moreover, the collaborative efforts of China and Europe have extended to major international platforms, as evidenced by their co-chairing of the interactive dialogue "Water for Sustainable Development" during the 2023 United Nations Water Conference, she said.

Additionally, the 18th World Water Congress in Beijing also served as a venue for profound exchanges and discussions on water management policy experience between the two sides, Xu continued.

Fruitful period

The past 12 years have been a fruitful period that saw China and Europe roll out more than a dozen joint studies in various fields such as basin management, ecological restoration, facilities for rural water resources management and food security, water and urbanization, water and energy, she said.

Under the China-EU Partnership Instrument Program from 2018 to last year, the two sides jointly carried out a batch of concrete projects, she said, citing a pilot venture for ecological restoration in the Nanxi River in Zhejiang province as an example.

Borrowing experiences in remediating the Rhine, Danube and Mondego rivers in Europe, experts from China and Europe jointly developed a plan for the conservation of a rare migratory fish species in the river.

They also recommended the minimum value of discharge that needs to be maintained in the river to ensure optimum conditions for its ecosystem, among other specific proposals on ecological restoration.

Xu has especially highlighted productive outcomes from Sino-French cooperation.

After the two countries' water resources authorities signed a cooperation agreement in 2009, they then agreed to launch a pilot program in the Haihe River Basin in 2011, she noted.

She said France's concept and approaches in drafting integrated planning for river basin management were successively incorporated by experts from the two countries into three documents for water conservation in the Haihe basin.

Capacity building is also one of the key aspects of the pilot program. To promote work in this regard, the two sides have so far visited each other about 50 times, with 40 of them by France to China, she said, adding that about 700 Chinese personnel were trained.

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China and France renewed the cooperation memorandum of understanding on water resources management in 2018.

Xu said China and Europe have reached consensus to embark on a new phase of cooperation with a three-year China-EU Cooperation on Water Project, and a draft overall work plan for the project has been prepared.

The two sides plan to further enhance joint research and technical exchanges in various fields, including basin management, information technology, groundwater recharge, and water recycling, and organize more study tours in these regards, she said.

"China and Europe will actively utilize the opportunities presented at important international conferences in 2024 to promote the achievements in China-Europe cooperation on water resources management as they make efforts to contribute their strength to global water governance," she said.