German-Chinese «Research and Innovation Programme Clean Water»

The joint declaration on the bilateral programme “Clean Water”, which was signed on the occasion of the first German-Chinese inter-governmental consultations in June 2011 in Berlin, is being implemented and developed further.

Against the background of rapid economic development coupled with fast population growth and increasing urbanization, the People's Republic of China struggles with the consequences of serious water pollution, which increasingly affects the security of its population´s water supply. Accordingly, the topic of water in China is now at the center of social and political attention.

Having had to overcome similar challenges in terms of water pollution in the 1970s and partly in the 1990s (in the newly-formed German federal states after Germany´s reunification), Germany has become one of the market leaders in the field of water technology. By linking management and technology, Germany was able to overcome most pollution problems and is now considered a global leader in the field of water conservation and drinking water quality. Therefore Germany is an ideal partner to support China in addressing its challenges in the water sector.

The countries sealed their partnership during the first German-Chinese inter-governmental consultations in June 2011 in Berlin, where they signed the joint declaration on the German-Chinese Research and Innovation Programme Clean Water, operated by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) of the People's Republic of China and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The Programme comprises the topics of water supply, wastewater treatment, water resource protection and cleaner industrial production. An essential part for its successful implementation is the bilateral research and innovation projects (see link box) developed jointly by both countries´ industries and research institutions. Implementation also relies on several other important partners, not least the relevant Chinese authorities. To a great extent the focus lies on the adaptation/modification of German technologies and concepts for sustainable water management to fit Chinese requirements. Additionally, cross-functional approaches will be implemented in education and advanced training.

The Programme is supported by a project office, which was established in 2012 at Tongji University in Shanghai.

One programme milestone was reached with the inauguration of the world's first SEMIZENTRAL Water Supply and Treatment Center on 27 April 2014 in Qingdao. State Secretary Dr. Georg SCHÜTTE and Vice-Mayor WANG Jianxiang jointly formally opened the Center. The SEMIZENTRAL Water Supply- and Treatment Center is the outcome of approximately 10 years of joint R&D work on SEMIZENTRAL. The inauguration was incorporated in the wider International Horticulture Exposition 2014 in Qingdao, increasing its international visibility.

A highlight in 2015 was a mutual kick-off session to officially launch three new Sino-German joint research projects which connect to the Chinese Mega Water Programme. These projects fall under the BMBF funding priority "International partnerships for sustainable climate protection and environmental technologies and services (CLIENT)". On 7 May 2015, the event in Beijing was opened by Chinese Deputy Minister Dr. CAO Jianlin and the German State Secretary Dr. George SCHÜTTE. During the event both parties signed a joint declaration on "Scientific and Technological Co-operation for the Mega Water Programme for the treatment and control of water pollution in the PRC". These three just-launched projects - SINOWATER, SIGN and UrbanCatchments - focus on the Lakes of Dianchi, Tai, and Chao, and the Liao River. Their focus is to improve water quality and a secure supply. These are critical water resources, supplying both population and industry. A day in advance of the formal launch, on 6 May 2015, a "pre-meeting" was held to promote communication and exchange beyond the individual projects. This gave project partners an opportunity to present on cross-project issues such as "Water Treatment and Distribution". Through regular exchanges such as these, synergies will continue to be fostered, creating the right environment for sustainable dialogue, development and implementation.

With the first Sino German "Mega Water Programme" Conference on the cooperation in context to the Mega Water Programme, in connection with the new Chinese Five Year Plan, the german-chinese dialogue on the Mega Water Cooperation was further deepened. The event was opened on 9 December 2016 in Shanghai by officials of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), the Ministry of Housing Urban and Rural Development (MOHURD) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) as well as the BMBF. Among the invited participants were german and chinese partners, local decision makers and experts from the priority regions of the Mega Water Programme. Contents of the conference were based on the current state of the three large cooperation projects, launched in spring 2015. In addition, experiences, challenges, and recommendations for future research topics and activities were discussed. Central programme point was the exchange on the harmonisation of the current funding programmes of the two countries. At the conference MoST, MEP, MoHURD and BMBF decided the establishment of a coordination committee with annual meetings to harmonise the future cooperation between the funding programmes.

With the anticipated launch of several new cooperation projects in the year 2017, within the Sino-German "Research and Innovation Programme Clean Water", in the framework of the funding line CLIENT II - International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations, the further extension of the Sino-German cooperation on water is intended.

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