A Chinese delegation met this week with Ministry Director General Alona Sheafer Karo and ministry professionals, in order to learn from Israel's experience how better to protect the environment in China. The delegation, led by Xu Jin Rong, Vice Governor of China's Jiangsu Province, visited the ministry on Sunday, May 26. The meetings were particularly focused on the fields of water resources management, pollution prevention, and technological innovation. Delegation members included the provincial government's environmental director, several of his staff members, deputy mayors from two of the province's major cities, and representatives of the province's Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Jiangsu Province has the highest population density of all Chinese provinces, with about 80 million residents. But it is also one of the most important provinces in China in terms of the economy. It also has one of the highest rates of GDP per capita ($8,000), and its growth rate in 2011 was 12.4%. Its main industries are electronics, automobiles, machinery, and chemicals; the government is currently investing heavily in promoting the solar energy industry. Jiangsu is called "the land of water" because of its many wetlands and irrigation canals, though these are heavily polluted.
Vice Governor Xu explained that her province's economic development and industrialization brought with it environmental woes such as pollution of air, soil, and water sources (mainly from industrial wastewater). Therefore, she said, there is a great need to formulate policies that can successfully cope with these challenges, while implementing advanced technologies.
Sheafer Karo noted that despite the obvious difference in size, Jiangsu and Israel share similarities. Both have a high population density and strong economic development, and in both, rapid industrialization brought with it environmental harm. Therefore, the director general added, there is great potential for cooperation between Israel and Jiangsu on environmental issues.
The key to maintaining a high level of economic growth while protecting the environment is the promotion of green growth, explained Sheafer Karo. We must view environmental challenges from an economic perspective, we must create partnerships with all stakeholders, we must have targets, and we must promote legislation that will help us achieve these targets while creating economic opportunities – not barriers to development. This way we harness all the relevant factors, and prevent opposition and delays that will harm both economic development and the environment.
The ministry's professional staff presented information about various ministry activities, such as wastewater treatment, reuse of sewage sludge, recycling, its work with municipalities, and monitoring of the environmental status. Participants agreed to open a channel of communication between the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Jiangsu's environmental department – to exchange professional information, promote scientific cooperation, and promote ties between entrepreneurs and companies from both countries. They also agreed to consider the participation of ministry representatives at relevant environmental events in Jiangsu.