From 21 to 22 September 2017, High-Level Dialogue Conference and High-level Business Conference of China Europe Water Platform (CEWP) was held in Turku, Finland, with a topic of green development and circular economy. Minister Chen Lei attended the conference and addressed its opening ceremony. The conference ended with the signing of Turku Declaration by more than 10 minister-level officials of EU Member States and China, and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Establishing China-EU Water Policy Dialogue signed by Minister Chen Lei and EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries H.E. Mr. Karmenu Vella.
Minister Chen Lei mentioned that green development is a profound change to traditional development model, and is the inherent requirement of human sustainable development. Water conservation and protection is essential to green development and it is an important path leading to circular economy. Due to increasing impact of climate change, population growth and acceleration of industrialization and urbanization, problems related to water resources, water environment and water ecology are becoming prominent.
The Chinese government has been adhering to the basic national policy of resource conservation and environmental protection. It has set up the targets of green development construction of a beautiful China, prioritizing water in the development of ecological civilization, and has worked hard to achieve development featuring harmonious co-existence between human and water. From 2012 to 2016, the amount of water consumed per unit of GDP and industrial added value have decreased by 25.3% and 27.5% respectively, and the water quality compliance rate in water function zones of major rivers and lakes increased by 10%. China has fed a population that accounts for 21% of the world's total with only 6% of global freshwater resources and 9% of the world’s cultivated land. China has achieved sustained economic growth at medium-to-high speed with only insignificant increase in water consumption, which is a remarkable contribution to the global development.
Good practices and experiences of China’s water governance were introduced in six aspects, including implementation of stringent water resources management system to promote green development, water conservation and increase of water use efficiency, coordinated utilization of multiple water sources to promote development of circular and low-carbon economy, water pollution control and improvement of water quality, ecological restoration and water sources protection and improvement of water governance system with participation of all stakeholders.
He emphasized the needs of furthering water cooperation through high-level dialogues, joint researches, project cooperation, technical exchanges and personnel training. The signing of the MOU marks a new phase of cooperation between Europe and China that shall inspire us to continue our strategic partnership and work closely to deliver more for deepening China-EU cooperation in the water sector. In order to realize these objectives, EU member countries and China should enhance policy exchange and dialogue, expand scope of cooperation, build partnership in global basis and consolidate CEWP.
During the conference, minister Chen Lei met with Kimmo Tiilikainen - Finnish Minister for Housing, Energy and the Environment, Karolina Skog - Minister for the Environment of Sweden, Siim Kiisler –Minister of the Environment of Estonia, and Karmenu Vella - European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Environment. The topics were focused on further promotion of government high-level dialogues, cooperation between research institutions and private sectors, making best use of China-EU Water Platform, implementation of UN sustainable Development Goals. Before the conference, Chen Lei also held talks with Jari Leppä, Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and visited the Archipelago Research Institute of University of Turku for to the introduction of Finnish Blue Ocean Plan, restoration of surface water, waste water recycling, sewage biological treatment and water recycling technology.
Turku Declaration, as the result of this conference, stressed that good water governance should give priority to ecology and green development, put water conservation in a prominent position, and restoring water ecosystem. Both sides are committed to strengthen China-EU joint research and work out innovative solutions for green development and eco-based circular economy. The Declaration values the importance of the private sector in terms of improving water security and achieving water-related 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and encourages Chinese and European companies to further establish partnership in collaboration with the public sector and research institute. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Establishing China-EU Water Policy Dialogue not only enriches the contents of China-EU strategic partnership, but also specifies direction, scope, methodology and financial arrangement for cooperation.
Over 400 representatives from China, Finland, Sweden and other countries, including senior-level water officials and experts from European Union, World bank, OECD and other institutions attended the conference. Experts from Ministry of Water Resources attended the China-EU high-level business conference, Research & Innovation Session, and China-Europe Seminar on Cooperation Outlook for Partnership Instruments. More than 40 Chinese companies and over 100 European companies attended the conference to exchange and establish business connection for future cooperation.