EU – China Environment Project

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Project introduction

The EU-China Environment Project is funded under the EU Foreign Policy Instrument. It aims to support the EU-China environmental policy dialogue and helping to achieve higher environmental protection standards, more convergence between the EU and China on environmental governance and greater integration of environment into other areas of government decision making. In doing so, the project will promote innovative approaches to achieve environmental quality and green growth, in both China and Europe.

The project will focus on both forward-looking topics as well as more pressing topics which respond to current and immediate policy priorities. Global environmental issues will be included, some of these will be in cooperation with the China Council for International Cooperation and Environment Development (CCICED). The topics of particular interest for 2018 include: a short paper and workshop on biodiversity, considering that China is hosting the CBD COP15; a short paper and perhaps a workshop on plastic pollution with a focus on oceans; in-depth study, training and an overseas study visit on permitting regulation and enforcement; a short paper and workshop on green financing and investment for banks and financial institutions.

Background

Environmental protection and green development are high priorities of the Chinese government. There are serious concerns about air, water and soil pollution in China, but also a recognition of the economic and human health benefits associated with investing in green development. A very broad range of policies, legislation, new implementation and enforcement measures are being developed and put into place at a rapid pace to meet environmental targets. One of the main challenges is implementation of environmental laws and standards at provincial and local level. China can actively learn from policies, measures and technologies, in the EU and other parts of the world, including very practical lessons from implementation, in building its own system adapted to China’s needs. In the coming years, China will be experimenting with new policy approaches, technologies and other solutions that will have implications outside China.

The EU and China have had a Ministerial-level Environmental Policy Dialogue (EPD) since 2003, and its focus includes air, water and soil protection. Through the policy dialogue, both sides agree on guiding principles for EU-China cooperation on a regular basis, and detailed subject areas and questions addressed are driven by the priorities on both sides.

This creates a need for a mechanism to quickly respond through policy exchange activities to support the policy dialogue which can address new, sometimes very specialised technical questions as they arise. It also calls for flexibility to engage with experts with direct, practical experience of a broad range of environmental policy and green growth measures.

The project was officially started on 1 January 2018. A Project Coordination Committee has been established. The launching workshop and the first Project Coordination Committee meeting took place at the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment on 6 March 2018. The meeting was steered by Mrs. Astrid Schomaker, Director of Global Sustainable Development at the DG Environment of the European Commission (DG ENV), and Mr. Guo Jing, Director-General of the International Cooperation Department of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). A number of key activity topics have been identified.


Objectives

The overall objective is to reinforce EU-China cooperation on environment and green economy, supporting the EU-China environmental policy dialogue and helping to achieve higher environmental protection standards, more convergence between the EU and China on environmental governance and greater integration of environment into other areas of government decision making.

The specific objective is to facilitate EU discussions with China on environmental policy/green economy and to foster the adoption of environmental best practices in the country.

  1. To support the EU-China environmental policy dialogue by supporting activities that improve shared understanding, knowledge on how to achieve better environmental protection and green development and establish good working contacts between EU and Chinese experts.
  2. To organise a range of activities that allow targeted and specialised expert exchanges for the further development of effective, new approaches and sharing of lessons and good practice in areas where the EU has substantial experience to offer China or where developments in China are of most relevance to the EU or to meeting their international commitments. To support processes related to the removal of barriers to investment in the country which have been moved forward.
  3. In doing so, to be responsive to China’s fast developing needs in terms of advice from the European experience on the design and implementation of environmental policy and measures, by preparing activities in close communication with Chinese experts so as to make them as relevant and useful in terms of responding to challenges that will arise in the coming years.


Results

The project will achieve four expected results as follows:

  1. Contribute to the implementation of the activities agreed at the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue level;
  2. Support the establishment of a regular and efficient coordination mechanism on environmental issues;
  3. Promote regulatory convergence between the EU and China around good practice and standards;
  4. Undertake policy studies and organise workshops, seminars and exchanges.


Activities

Activity 1: In-depth studies

The project will carry out two comprehensive policy studies on priority topics agreed by both the EU and Chinese partners, with a particular view to China’s legislative agenda. These studies will involve multiple interactions by some of Europe and China’s top experts on environment and green economy. The topics of the studies will be designed to align with priorities of the EU – China Environmental Policy Dialogue. For example, China’s emerging permitting system, which is a very good example of where European and Chinese systems for environmental protection are converging.

Activity 2: Short policy papers

This is an important part of the project, because it fills a significant gap. Senior policy makers in China regularly have urgent questions for which they would like to conduct quick comparative research. These papers will respond to important and well formulated needs from a high level (e.g. leaders of Ministry of Ecology and Environment, CCICED, DG Environment, the National People’s Congress, State Council, etc.). They will also address timely topics, perhaps in anticipation of major legislative proposals, or in response to a major incident. Topics of such short papers will include global environmental issues as well as priorities of both EU and China, such as biodiversity, plastics, green financing and investment etc.

Activity 3: Training workshops

The project plans to have four training workshops in selected provinces or regions of China. It will be important to choose the most suitable target group for these trainings. The aim will be to consider target groups and design trainings in such a way that European experience and best practices can really be of practical value for China. Training topics will be identified during the course of project implementation.

Activity 4: In-depth training sessions

Two in-depth trainings for Chinese officials or policymakers are foreseen to take place in Europe. The topics for such in-depth trainings will depend on the chosen target groups. Emphasis should be on a demand drive from policy makers and clearly specified training needs ahead of the training events. The European expert trainers will be provided with clear guidance on the context and specific needs of the audience, so that they can prepare well.

Activity 5: Expert workshops

These expert workshops will be closely tuned to the priorities of China’s environmental legislative or regulatory agenda. The NPC, State Council, Ministry of Ecology and Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources all play important roles in this regard. The topics for these workshops will be identified by the EPD and be fixed during the inception phase.

Activity 6: Policy visits

This activity is targeted to senior officials who can influence the Chinese environmental governance agenda and green development in China. Suitable targets could include senior Ministry of Ecology and Environment officials, Ministry of Natural Resources, etc. For those study tour, it could also be beneficial to combine a group of policymakers from different departments, who are working on a common issue such as a new law or a key policy document.

Activity 7: EU-China Environmental Policy Cooperation Seminar

The main purpose of this activity is to mark the successful implementation of the project, to share its achievements with relevant officials and the media, and to take a forward look at the next priorities for EU – China cooperation on environment and green development. The event should be fitting for very senior participation. The results and achievements of the project will be compiled and clearly presented, with a view not only of their direct outcomes, but more importantly of the various impacts to which the project has contributed. These impacts might include contributions to new or revised legislation, to key policy documents, to enhanced rates of compliance, or to better convergence of environmental governance practices.

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Team

    Hui Chen, Finance Officer, ClientEarth

    Hui Chen

About the project consortium

The project is implemented by a consortium of GOPA, PRCEE and ClientEarth, from January 2018 to December 2020, with a budget of 3.5 million euros.

GOPA

GOPA Consultants, is a leading German development consulting firm and one of the strongest consulting groups in Europe. Since its founding in 1965, GOPA has successfully implemented over 3,500 management and training projects for national and international financing agencies as well as private industry in more than 130 countries. Our reputation for excellence and efficiency is built on fifty years of planning and implementing technical assistance projects in developing and transition economies.

PRCEE

The Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy (PRCEE) is an institution affiliated to Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), China. The mission of PRCEE is to offer policy support for the State’s macro decision-making and management over environmental protection based on the comprehensive and strategic researches of overall importance in the fields of environmental strategy, environment policy, environmental legislation and institution, and international environmental issues. PRCEE has conducted hundreds of national and ministerial policy research programs on environmental strategy, ecological civilization, green economy, green finance, environmental economic policy analysis, environmental public governance, environmental legislation, environment and society, global environmental governance, global sustainable development, environment and health, environment and trade and climate change.

ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit environmental law organisation, founded in 2008, with offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, and Beijing. In 2012 BusinessGreen gave ClientEarth its NGO of the Year award. In 2013 ClientEarth was awarded the Law Society’s LSA Award for Excellence in Environmental Responsibility.

Explore ClientEarth’s other work in China.

Contact

Telephone: +86-10-84405941

Office address: 2-506 Kunsha Center, 16 Xinyuanli, Chaoyang, Beijing.