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China, Africa Have Much to Share in Environmental Protection
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A senior Chinese environment official has said that China, which has suffered from developing economy on the cost of environment, wishes Africa could learn from this lesson and avoid repeating the path. Meanwhile, China is willing to share with Africa the experience of protecting environment.


China has established a set of environmental protection systems that are suitable for the situation of developing countries through many years of study and experiment, and "it is much easier for Africa to take reference from China's systems than from the developed countries,'" said Zhang Shigang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.


Moreover, the prices of Chinese technology and equipment are more reasonable, he said.


Sekou Toure, director of UNEP's regional office for Africa, who has said that China's communication with African countries on its experience, has backed Zhang's argument and lessons in-protecting environment is useful for Africa.


Toure said in a separate interview with Xinhua that there is a misconception among many people that environmental protection is costly.


"For example, if you don't treat the waster water and discharge into the river, you create all kinds of water-born diseases. At the end, you have to pay for it. It is 10 times cheaper to invest in environment than trying to treat the diseases," he said, expressing appreciation for China's regular training of African environment officials, partly aimed to enhance these African decision makers' environmental awareness.


China has organized two training seminars on water pollution and water resources conservation for African senior environment officials in September last year and January this year in China, respectively training 23 officials from 19 African countries and 24 officials from 14 African countries.


Africa contributes only about 3 percent of the world's climate change emissions yet it is arguably the most vulnerable to climate change.


"Africa has realized that 'environment has no frontier' and it is the biggest victim of deteriorating environment, it is willing to join the global action of protecting environment," said Zhang.


The Chinese representative praised Africa's increased environmental awareness, saying the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be for the first time held in Africa as a result of the African Union's appeal.


The event, scheduled for Nov. 6-17 in Nairobi, "is expected to be able to better address Africa's concern about its environment," Zhang said.


He highlighted some well-developed environmentally friendly practice in Africa, saying it is useful reference for China.


"For example, Kenya has comprehensive laws and mechanism of protecting wildlife and such protection has become part of the nation's culture," he said.


Zhang encouraged Chinese businesses engaged in environmental protection to come to Africa to explore opportunities and suggested other Chinese businesses take environment into consideration when conducting projects in Africa as "it can help companies to set up positive image, which is significant for the long-term business development."


The Chinese government has pledged to actively promote China-Africa cooperation in climate change, water resources conservation, anti-desertification, bio-diversity and other areas of environmental protection by facilitating technological exchange.


Zhang said he believed the upcoming ministerial meeting and summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation could add strong momentum to the cooperation between the world's largest developing country and the continent encompassing the largest number of developing countries in environmental protection.


(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2006)

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