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 learning 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 EU-China Environment and Green Economy Programme is supported by the European Union through its Partnership Instrument. 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.
In doing so, the project will promote the development on both sides of innovative approaches to support environmental quality and green growth. The project will also promote new opportunities for and the take up of green technologies, solutions and development, and overall allow domestic and international environmental goals and commitments to be met more easily.
The specific objective of the project is to facilitate dialogue between the EU and China on environmental policy, green economy and to foster the adoption of environmental best practices in the country.
The project will achieve four expected results as follows:
- Contribute to the implementation of the activities agreed at the EU-China Environmental Policy Dialogue level;
- Support the establishment of a regular and efficient coordination mechanism on environmental issues;
- Promote regulatory convergence between the EU and China around good practice and standards;
- Undertake policy studies and organise workshops, seminars and exchanges.
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 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: Two 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: Eight 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: Two 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.
The project is implemented by a consortium of GOPA, PRCEE and Client Earth, from January 2018 to December 2020, with a budget of 3.5 million euros.