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Environmental cooperation boosts sustainable development &  By Gong Yingchun, June 23, 2014 Adjust font size:

The cooperation between China and the European Union (EU) on environmental governance boosts China's sustainable development, said Bie Tao, deputy director of Policy and Law for the Ministry of Environmental Protection during a conference held in Beijing last week.

China has made great efforts in dealing with its pollution problems in recent years, and environmental conditions have improved in some parts of the country.

"However, the exacerbation of the overall environment in China has not been effectively controlled, especially the contamination problems of air, water and soil," said Bie Tao.

He added ecological deterioration and increasing environmental accidents propelled China to figure out more effective measures to strengthen its environmental governance. Bie pointed out that China should change its mode of environmental management which solves environmental problems through administrative means.

In November 2013, the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stressed the importance of ecological development and made the decision to reform China's environmental protection mechanisms.

"Chinese government has raised its awareness on environmental governance, and now China is curbing its environment issues in its own way," said Tu Ruihe, deputy director-general of Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Environmental Protection.

In November 2009, the EU signed a financial agreement with the Chinese government to budget 15 million euros (US $20.6 million) to improve environmental governance in China.

The environmental governance, first defined by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainable development as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities -- political, social and economic.

"This EU-China cooperation is a forward-looking plan," said Tu.

The EU-China Environmental Governance Program (EGP) began in December 2010 and will be completed in December 2015. The program aims to assist the Chinese government and general public in improving environmental protection and promoting local sustainable development through public participation.

The "governance" of environment usually focuses on public participation, said Lars Gronvald, head of Cooperation of EU Delegation to China and Mongolia. He explained that the environmental governance in European countries aims to ensure public participation in environmental planning and decision-making as well as public access to justice in environmental matters.

So far, China and the EU have launched 15 pilot projects in Guizhou, Hubei, Shanxi, Tianjin, Zhejiang and other parts of China.

Tu said environmental governance is an integral part of the whole national governance system..

"We hope that the EGP could make contributions to China's ongoing undertaking on building a modernized environmental governance system," he said.

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