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China, Italy mapping out a greener future

A series of international workshops, scheduled to begin next Tuesday at the Shanghai World Expo's Italian Pavilion, will highlight eco-friendly technologies, climate change and sustainable development.

The events are part of the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program on Environmental Protection, an international model of partnership addressing key solutions for sustainable development and leveraging public and private resources.

The cooperation was established in the late 1990s when China had started to draft its own domestic road map for environmental protection, urged by dangerously soaring pollution levels.

Italy decided to invest in the sustainable development of China, looking at the global effects of the environmental protection of the country, and taking into account the future key role environmental technologies would play in the economic growth of China.

The program was developed through bilateral agreements with the Chinese ministries of environmental protection, of science and technology and of water resources.

The program was implemented in collaboration with a number of Chinese institutions, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the State Forestry Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Municipal authorities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi'an, Suzhou, Lanzhou and Urumqi, the Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the Jiaotong and Tongji universities in Shanghai and the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo 2010.

A permanent task-force of Italian and Chinese experts has been working for the past 10 years in the Shanghai and Beijing program management offices on the macro-areas of the sustainable development of China.

Up to now, more than 200 projects have been implemented within the program, covering environmental monitoring and management, institutional capacity building, natural resources protection and conservation, water resources management, waste-to-energy, environmental protection in China's poorest areas, energy efficiency and renewable energies development, sustainable urban planning, low-emission transportation systems and technologies, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection and forest management.

The total value of on-going and developed projects is $438 million.

The Italian Ministry for the Environment has co-financed these projects with some $228 million, either through direct contribution to the Chinese partnering entities or through the trust funds established in the World Bank and other Multilateral Funds.

Other financing has been provided by the Chinese institutions and Italian companies involved in the program, the United Nations, the Global Environmental Facility, the Word Bank and the Multilateral Fund for the Montreal Protocol on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, with at least $207 million.

In many cases, the projects have created the opportunity for additional programs concerned with the sustainable development of the Chinese economy.

These programs have been developed jointly by the Chinese authorities and Italian companies already involved in the bilateral cooperation without further support from the Italian Ministry for the Environment.

According to a prudent evaluation, investments total $1.15 billion.

Hence, in 10 years, the $230 million co-financing from the Italian Ministry for the Environment has moved direct or undirected investments for more than $1.59 million for China's development and diffusion of sustainable and low-carbon technologies, according to Corrado Clini, general director of Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea.

China, Italy mapping out a greener future