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China, Africa Underscore Cooperation in Environment Protection
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Chinese and African leaders agreed on Sunday they will intensify cooperation in environment protection, share experiences and boost sustainable development on both sides.


China and Africa resolved to promote dialogue and exchanges in environmental protection and cooperation in human resources development, according to an action plan for bilateral cooperation in the coming three years, endorsed at the two-day Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.


China will train more environmental protection administrators and experts for African countries in the coming three years and the number of trainees will be increasing year on year, the document says without giving details.


Meanwhile, the two sides will step up cooperation in capacity building, prevention and control of water pollution and desertification, maintenance of bio-diversity and the development of environmental protection industry and demonstration projects, it says.


They will also work with the United Nations Environment Program for multilateral cooperation in the environment sector.


"China, whose environment suffered considerably in its rapid economic development over the past decades, wishes Africa would learn from its lessons and is willing to share with Africa its recent experience in environment protection," said Zhang Shigang, China's deputy permanent representative to the UNEP, in an interview with Xinhua in Nairobi last month.


He said China has, through many years of research, established a set of environment protection schemes that are suitable for the situation of developing countries. "The prices for Chinese technologies and equipment are also more reasonable."


Zhang was backed by Sekou Toure, director of UNEP's regional office in Africa, who said China's experience and lessons in environment protection is useful.


There is a misconception among many people that environmental protection is costly, said Toure. "For example, if you don't treat the waste water and discharge it into the river, you create all kinds of water-born diseases. In the end, you'll have to pay for it. It is 10 times cheaper to invest in environment than trying to treat the diseases."


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.


The country organized two training seminars on water pollution and water resources conservation for African senior environment officials in September 2005 and January 2006, training 47 officials from the continent.


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 a deteriorating environment. It is also willing to join the global action of environment protection," said Zhang.


Meanwhile, he said Africa's environment-friendly practices are also helpful to China, such as Kenya's comprehensive laws and mechanism of protecting wildlife.


The Beijing Summit, the highest-profile gathering between Chinese and African leaders, concluded Sunday afternoon after two historic documents, a declaration and an action plan for 2007-2009, had been adopted.


(Xinhua News Agency November 6, 2006)

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