China supports global environmental efforts and has played an active role in international environmental affairs. Since 1994 when the United Nations Framework Convention on Global Climate Change went into effect, China has adhered to its principles in international talks on climate change, adopting measures and defending the legitimate rights of China and other developing countries. In 2002, China approved the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
As a member state of the Global Environmental Fund ("GEF"), China has maintained close cooperation relationship with the organization, an international fund-management partnership founded in 1992 that has become the largest investor in the world in the fields of international environmental protection. China is also one of the few donators among the developing countries, having played an active role in fund-raising. At the same time, the GEF has provided financial and technological assistance in helping China to protect the environment and fulfill international treaties. At the same time, the GEF has provided China with effective assistance in funding and technology, helping China with environmental protection and implementation of international conventions. With the help of GEF, China has undertaken dozens of projects — current, completed or planned — while receiving some several hundred million US dollars in donations from the GEF. This made China the biggest beneficiary of the GEF.
The World Bank is also a strong supporter of China's environmental protection efforts. In the 1990s, the World Bank and China's State Environmental Protection Administration set forth a vision for sustainable development of China's environment in "China's Environmental Strategy Paper" and "Clear Water, Blue Skies: China's Environment in the 21st Century." In the past two decades, the World Bank has granted loans to China's 24 environmental protection projects, and assisted China in obtaining donations from the GEF and Montreal Protocol for its environmental projects. The Montreal Protocol has granted China a total donation of US$326 million to aid in stopping production and use of materials that consume the ozone layer.
Non-governmental environmental protection organizations from various countries in the world, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and International Fund for Animal Welfare, have cooperated with relevant Chinese authorities and non-governmental organizations in various fields, and achieved positive results. The China Council for Cooperation on Environment and Development consists of some 40 experts that acts as a senior consultancy for the government. Since its establishment more than a decade ago, it has made many constructive proposals to the Chinese government and is respected abroad for its international environmental cooperation.
In September 2003 the United Nations Environment Program opened its China office in Beijing to strengthen its cooperation with the nation in the field of environmental protection. The office works closely with China's SEPA and other ministries, international agencies and non-governmental organizations on various environment-related issues. It also develops and supports projects under the Global Environment Fund.