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World Bank Joins Italy in Supporting China's Circular Economy

The World Bank has joined the Sino-Italian Environmental Cooperation Program in support of China's development and implementation of the circular economy. The announcement was made at a joint press conference on July 29, attended by representatives of the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory, State Environmental Protection Administration of China, the National People Congress, and the World Bank.

The Bank's partnership with the Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory began in 2004 with the establishment of the World Bank-Italian Trust Fund for Environment Protection in China, which provides grants for climate change-related studies and pilot projects. In response to Chinese government priorities, circular economy is one of the areas selected for support.

The circular economy approach combines three major objectives which are essential for the achievement of sustainable development:

1. increased efficiency in the use of raw materials, including natural resources such as energy and water;

2. improved management of wastes, including enhanced reuse and recycling, and safe disposal of hazardous wastes; and

3. conservation and enhancement ecological sustainability through improved spatial planning and coordination of economic activities.

"The concept of circular economy was new to the Bank, but the more we learn about it, the more we like it," said Andres Liebenthal, Sector Coordinator for Environment and Social Development at the World Bank Office in China. "The Bank is happy to support the promotion of the circular economy".

The World Bank-Italian partnership supports two circular economy studies. The first study, managed by the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People's Congress, is about the development of a "Legal Framework for the Circular Economy in China". It will include an assessment of current laws and regulations relevant to circular economy objectives in China, a comparative analysis of circular economy-related laws in industrialized countries, and field investigations of pilot activities in China. The end product will be a series of recommendations for the design of a legal framework for promoting circular economy in China, including new laws and regulations as appropriate. This study has already been launched and is expected to be completed by early 2006.

The second study, managed by the State Environmental Protection Administration, will cover "Policies and Regulations for Promoting Development of Circular Economy in China". It will include an analysis of the efficiency of raw material flows in key sectors and cities, an assessment of the status of waste reuse and recycling, and case studies on the sustainability of urban and rural development patterns. The end product will be an integrated set of policy proposals for improving resource production and consumption efficiency, waste management, and the development of regionally sustainable production and consumption patterns. The second study will be carefully coordinated with the first one and is expected to be completed in late 2006.

(China.org.cn August 2, 2005)

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