Enhancing EU-China collaboration through SPRING
With the rectification of the EU-China Science and Technology agreement, EU andChina researchers can now connect on an equal footing to establish research projects aimed at sharing knowledge and information. However, collaborative research strategies need totake account of not only the technical challenges, but the social and cultural differences in order to achieveeffective project outcomes. In order to facilitate better EU-China environmental research cooperation, there is a clear need to “create a long-term environment vision with clearly identifiable pathways for the two partners to work together”. SPRING will take a multi-level approach to achieving this, developing foresight and road-mapping studies to manage long term aims and facilitate increased cooperation and exchange for researchers, policy and decision makers and funding bodies.
The environment in China
China, with its wide range of local geographical and climatic conditions, is facing tremendous challenges in terms of both known and potential environment problems, e.g. an uneven distribution of water resources resulting in water shortage and an increased frequency and severity of flooding, a sharp drop in mineral, oil and gas resources, formation of smog in cities, an increase in pollution-related health problems and frequent water pollution incidents.
When these concerns are set against the intensive demands of the growing China economy, it is clear that enhanced environment research and management will help China achieve its aim of a sustainable development mechanism. International communication and cooperation between the EU and China offers opportunities for both sides. The diversity in research and policies of the individual EU Member States and EU policies offer a rich breadth of experience across the environmental sector, while China has research resources impressible both in terms of size and quality.etc.).
Contemporary EU-China collaboration
European countries are very active in engaging with China in terms of cultural and commercial activities and have been doing do for many years. In the area of research, China universities have been involved in a number of EU framework projects, e.g. INCO, projects since 1990s. In the assessment of FP5 INCO projects, one of the recommendations made was particularly relevant to this call: Scale up multi‐stakeholder platforms for identification of needs, priorities’ setting and enhance the development of durable research partnership. It recognized that although INCO projects were successful, they suffers from two major drawbacks: (i) piece‐meal or patch‐work bilateral projects were still dominating the FP; (ii) although partnerships were form, China partners were often limited to a small number (out of the 1700) of universities in China, thus the scope of research topic is constraint by area of expertise.
Individual EU Member States have a long history of active engagement with China through bilateral projects in the areas of atmospheric and biosphere pollution assessment and control, climate change research, as well as sustainable development. These projects, although successful, often specifically address common problems between a particular EU Member State and a particular region in China with a common focus/ theme. If Member States were to achieve more, then the way forward is to work together and engage China taking a European rather national approach.