From 1 to 3 April 2019, an EU delegation headed by Karmenu Vella was visiting China to continue and deepen EU-China environmental bilateral relations.
The 7th environmental dialogue between China and EU saw two new high-level dialogues on Water and Circular Economy. The EU commissioner discussed shared priorities related to water and circular economy, wildlife and forest protection, the EU-China Ocean Partnership, and the fight against illegal fishing.
On the occasion, EU delegation headed by Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: “Both the EU and China are facing similar environmental challenges. Threats to biodiversity, pressures on scarce natural resources, waters and oceans as well as the threat of pollution require strong governance. Together we can better respond to these challenges and we can take the lead globally.”
Circular economy is an important political priority both in the EU and in China under an agreement signed in July 2018. According to the International Resource Panel, global use of materials will more than double by 2050, rising from 85 to 186 billion tonnes per year, and annual resource use per capita will grow by 70% by mid-century. By the same date, demand for food could increase by 60%, for fibers by 80–95%, and for water by 55%.
Vella further explained, “The EU is also working to transform its development model and move towards a low-emission, resource-efficient and circular economy. We are in the midst of in-depth reforms that will move us away from the present linear model, where we ‘take, make, use and throw away’. We must move towards a “closed loop” model. One where we reduce resource extraction, minimize waste and keep the value of resources within the economy.”
Taking into account the EU Circular Economy and Plastic Strategy, the leaders discussed how to accelerate bilateral collaboration.
The event saw the first China-EU Water Policy Dialogue which provides a further political steer to the work of the China-Europe Water Platform. The European Commission supports the platform through a €6 million Partnership Instrument project, addressing issues related to water policies, water resources management, climate change, water disaster mitigation, protection of ecosystems and applied research and business cooperation.
The 7th Environmental Policy Dialogue focussed on pollution prevention and control and promoting green growth. The delegates are preparing for the Biodiversity Summit in China next year, where world leaders are expected to agree on a post-2020 plan to stop the rapid decline of the natural resources.
China is also one of the countries included in a € 9 million Commission action to reduce plastic waste and marine litter in East and South East Asia which is to begin on 1st May 2019.