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Sino-Italian Environmental Protection Programs Launched
China and Italy have agreed to work together in the field of environmental protection to help China achieve its goal of sustainable development.

A series of joint programs aims to improve China's capacity for sustainable agriculture, phase out the use of hazardous chemicals, and make ecological surveys and air quality monitoring, according to a ceremony in Beijing Monday to launch the initiative.

China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) and the Ministry of the Environment and Territory of Italy have set up a joint management office in Beijing to oversee the setting up of the programs through pilot projects, technical assistance and investment.

Investments totaling some US$32 million would mainly come from the Italian and Chinese governments, said Liu Yi, an SEPA official in charge of foreign economic cooperation.

Sino-Italian cooperation in China's sustainable agriculture sector will focus on reducing and replacing pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and introducing water-conserving irrigation systems.

Through the initiative, China will obtain new alternative technologies to methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting substance traditionally used in soil fumigation and disinfecting.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has required the phasing out of methyl bromide in agricultural production.

Under another program, Chinese and Italian researchers will make a two-year study on reducing the use of and phasing out the worst polluting organic pesticides.

Other programs include an environmental survey of central China,an air quality monitoring system in Suzhou city, trial use of a clean diesel fuel in Shanghai buses, and the promotion of renewable energy.

Zhu Guangyao, SEPA deputy director, said Sino-Italian cooperation had become one of China's most active areas of international initiatives with the most positive results in environmental protection in the last two years.

The cooperation had won strong support both from the two countries' governments and international organizations such as the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank for its benefits to both national and global sustainable development, Liu Yi said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 16, 2002)

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