This strategic dialogue took place on 30-31 October in Beijing, under this year’s guiding theme ‘Towards 2030: Accelerating change through innovation for greener development’. 290 representatives from Chinese and German ministries, businesses, academia and civil society organisations came together to discuss future directions of sustainable development.
China’s Vice Minister for the Environment, Zhao Yingmin, and Svenja Schulze, Germany’s Environment Minister, recommitted themselves to the strategic environmental partnership of the two countries. Based on decades of fruitful exchange, Germany and China advocated the intensification of their bilateral cooperation on water and soil protection, biodiversity conservation, and environmental labelling.
Three parallel sub-forums on climate change, biodiversity, the circular economy and chemical management gave participants an opportunity to discuss state-of-the-art environmental protection approaches. The interactive setting of the sub-forums catalysed in-depth dialogue on these environmental priorities. All parties agreed on the importance of consensus, a strong environmental governance system and the involvement of all actors, including the private sector.
Plenary session of the Sixth Sino-German Environment Forum. © GIZ/ KIT
Sub-forum I: Accelerating Innovation and Action for Combatting Climate Change
The Climate Partnership assisted the organisation of Sub-forum I, which was chaired by Dr Christoph Beier, Vice-Chair of GIZ’s Management Board. Government representatives provided high-level insight into policy developments, such as Germany’s recent Climate Protection Law proposal and how its new long-term strategic goal to reach net neutrality by 2050 can be reconciled with a socially just transition for affected regions. Chinese representatives discussed institutional innovation, such as the use of digitalisation to improve transparency and reporting, particularly of emission inventories, from the local and regional up to the national level.
Industry representatives presented cooperation projects in China that are currently trialling technological innovation that serves climate goals, such as the Reference Zhuhai Traffic Management System. The Nitric Acid Action Group was presented along with several projects investigating the use of waste gases from steel as inputs into chemical processes as prominent examples of effective Sino-German technical cooperation.
Sub-forum II: Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and its implementation
Drawing on experiences in biodiversity conservation measures under the existing Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, recommendations for more effective implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework were discussed. Both sides emphasised the importance of sub-national biodiversity strategies and action plans as an effective tool for soliciting strong support from governments at all levels and all stakeholders. Another key recommendation was to enhance cross-sectoral monitoring to keep track of changes over time and to focus conservation efforts where they are needed. The sub-forum was chaired by Dr Josef Tumbrinck, Deputy Director-General for Nature Conservation, BMU, and Liu Ning, Deputy Director-General, Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, MEE.
Sub-forum III: Circular Economy and Sustainable Chemicals Management: a ‘Safe’ Circular Economy – dealing with hazardous substances in material cycles
The discussions in sub-forum III revolved around China’s pilot projects of ‘Zero-Waste City’ construction, as well as Chinese and EU policies and regulations regarding the management of chemicals and other hazardous substances during recycling processes. In addition, representatives of German companies presented circular economy solutions for plastics production, battery recycling and the recovery of heavy metals from slag. MEE’s Department of Solid Wastes and Chemicals was represented by Deputy Director-General Zhou Zhiqiang (co-chair) and Deputy Division Director Gao Xingbao (moderator). The sub-forum was also co-chaired by Gertrud Sahler, DG for Emission Control, Safety of Installations and Transport, Chemical Safety, Environment and Health, BMU.