The environmental cost of economic growth

China’s rapid economic growth has led to a variety of environmental challenges including environmental degradation, intensified water scarcity, declining water quality, increased wastewater discharge and water pollution. Industrial pollution, in particular, is responsible for the severe degradation of over half of the Republic’s waterways.

The Chinese Government has in recent years adopted strong policies to turn around this environmental ‘crisis’. The government encourages development that balances economic growth with environmental protection, sustainable water reform and the implementation of improved water resource management. Furthermore, China has offered cash incentives for those willing to make a change and has developed a grassroots system of volunteer ‘river chiefs’ to enforce water-related regulations. Australia’s water reform experience, water governance approaches and technical expertise presents an opportunity to assist in water resource management improvement.

AWP’s commitment to supporting China’s mandate for change

An MoU between Australia (represented by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, now the Department of Agriculture) and The Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China is currently being renewed. As the Australia Mekong Water Facility is further established and the bilateral MoU revitalised, activities will potentially be developed and implemented in China throughout 2019/20.

AWP activities across sectors

Not all engagements with China occur under the remit of the MoU. AWP provides support to the Alliance for Water Stewardship which focuses on industrial parks to address critical water quality and water security challenges. AWP is working with its International Partners such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank both of which have indicated interest in AWP support for activities in China. These will be assessed and responded to as they arise according to their alignment with AWP intended outcomes.

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