China and Norway linked up for a seminar on environmental protection on March 8, which is the kick-off of the Sino-Norwegian Project on Competence Building on Environmental Management.
The seminar was the result of an agreement signed on April 30 last year, which outlined the Competence Building Project (CBP). This project will be implemented by the Foreign Economic Cooperation Office (FECO) under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif) under the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment.
Klif is responsible for coordinating the inputs of three other Norwegian organizations: the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (DN), the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and the Norwegian Foundation for Scientific & Industrial Research (SINTEF).
The project aims to continue cooperation on five projects: pollution control, co-processing of hazardous waste in cement kilns, biodiversity, water management, and mercury management.
"Central to these projects is our longstanding and fruitful collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and FECO," said Svein Sther, the Norwegian Ambassador to China. "Without your strong commitment to the objective of improving the environment, and collaboration as a means to further this objective, I feel assured to say that there would be no Competence Building Project."
The CBP aims to establish a training and exchange program based on experiences gained through the five projects. It also provides a framework for policy discussions and other workshops.
China and Norway have worked together on environmental issues for over a decade, said the ambassador. He added that both countries have gained from the interaction and project cooperation.
The areas that have been the focus of the projects, such as climate change, air and water pollution, hazardous substances and biodiversity, represent challenges not only in our two countries, but globally, said the ambassador.
Harald Rensvik, the secretary general of the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, is very supportive of the program: "The ministry values highly the dialogue that has been established between Norwegian and Chinese environmental authorities. Working towards a common understanding of global challenges and international solutions is crucial. I feel confident that it will serve as a guiding torch for our cooperation in the years to come," he said.
The idea behind the CBP is to enable China and Norway to work together on environmental issues. Specific tasks will be to choose environmental management plans, to tackle problems like air-pollution and climate change, to provide training, and exchange knowledge on environmental technology.
"The CBP wants to spread the good results and share its experiences with other municipalities and provinces in China", said Ellen Hambro, director general of the Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif).
The Klif, which was formerly known as the Pollution Control Agency (SFT), worked with environmental authorities in Zunyi, Guizhou province, between 2005 and 2009. It was the first environmental pilot project launched by both governments.
The goal of the project in Zunyi was to improve local authorities' ability to enforce the industry standards which set limits on emissions and discharges.
Hambro said that the work in Zunyi "has led to great environmental improvements."
She added: "We are pleased to be able to share our experience and expertise with environmental authorities in other countries, and are satisfied when our work together leads to improvements in the environment.
"The cooperation has been a partnership of mutual learning. We have sent our most senior and experienced experts to China. My people have been to Zunyi about 20 times. They report back to me about how inspired they are from these visits. Although we are from different cultures and speak different languages, we have a lot in common."
She said that communication is easy because they share the same goal - to protect the environment.
"We have presented our solutions and experiences from Norway as an a la carte menu. Our Chinese colleagues have picked from that menu and implemented measures relevant to the Chinese conditions. The Norwegian recipe is not always suitable here. However, the sharing of experience and know-how is the central part," she said.
"A major benefit from our partnership is that it provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our own methodologies and ways of doing things. This contributes to improving our own solutions."
Another aspect of the CBP is to train the trainers. Norwegian experts and experts from Guizhou will share their knowledge with colleagues from other parts of China who will then train people in their hometowns and other provinces.
In this way the role of the Norwegian experts will be gradually phased out over the four-year period covered by the agreement.
Hambro pointed out that it is an important factor for success that the courses developed in the Competence Building Project are incorporated into the Ministry of Environmental Protection's own training program.
"This is vital for the sustainability of the project. I am therefore happy to learn that processes of integrating the training modules into the ministry's training program have already been initiated," she said.
More than 13 different training modules will be held, on topics ranging from climate change, air pollution to biodiversity.
(China Daily 03/17/2010 page12)