China and Europe have agreed to establish a platform for dialogue, joint research and private sector cooperation on better management of water resources. On March 14, Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources of China and the European Union, represented by the Danish Minister of the Environment, Ida Auken, signed a joint statement to establish the water platform. This statement, signed at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles, France, recognizes that China and Europe face similar challenges in managing water resources, and that water resources are expected to become increasingly strained due to socio-economic development and climate change.
China’s large population of 1.3 billion, coupled with rapid industrial and economic developments, have led to serious environmental side effects, such as pollution and water shortage. Natural resources have been under strain to keep up with the enormous leap the country has made in various areas. Statistics on the annual GDP growth rate in China in 2011, for example, show the rate standing at 9.2 percent.
The platform will replace another program, the “EU-China River Basin Management Programme” (RBMP), which had already received some 33 million dollars from Europe Aid. The Chinese call the new platform for water policy not an aid project, but a definite partnership, to which they are also contributing financial support.
The scheme is a crucial step to ensure China’s economic development will not destroy the country’s or Planet Earth’s environment.