Water Scarcity in China: Left Out to Dry?

As water scarcity in China rises, so does its need for radical policy change. How can a mutually beneficial solution be found through collaboration with the EU?

Threatening its socio-economic development and long-term sustainability, China has increasingly been facing severe water scarcity. Its scarcity is characterized by insufficient local water resources as well as reduced water quality, both of which critically impacts upon its society and environment. The three main factors contributing to China’s water scarcity are (1) uneven spatial distribution of water resources; (2) rapid economic development and urbanization; and (3) poor water resource management. This EIAS Policy Brief will outline the effects of these contributing factors and emphasize the importance of improving water resource management as a cost-effective option to alleviate China’s water vulnerabilities. Then, it will discuss potential cooperation opportunities with the European Union, a ‘green leader’ that can offer support to guide China in the process of optimizing its water management mechanisms. There are three main potential channels of collaboration: (1) political agreements between the EU and Chinese governments and the creation of dialogue platforms such as the China-Europe Water Platform; (2) joint academic research projects involving Chinese and European researchers and meetings such as the EU-China Water Policy Dialogue to exchange scientific views and information on water management methods; and (3) business deals among European and Chinese companies to buy water management technology from each other, work on joint programs, and launch public-private partnerships with EU and Chinese institutions that can fund these projects.

Author: Gregory T. Romer & Marina Ortega, Junior Researcher, EIAS

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