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2016 Environmental Delegation to China produces some surprising results

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Shreejan Pandey looking at a map for a new development planned to house people being relocated from areas at risk of landslides

A deeper insight into the environmental problems facing China and the fascinating methods to address them was gained by the six members of the Environmental Delegation to China recently.  Deborah Robertson, Youth Ambassador in 2014, and the other delegates have produced a fascinating report of their findings.

All six members had expertise in fields of work – such as sustainable development, conservation, engineering and science – necessary for sustaining the health of the planet. They had many opportunities to witness the work that China has been doing in this sphere and to pass on their own knowledge to the people they met during the tour.

In past years, China’s focus has been on poverty elimination and a higher standard of living, but this, of course, has created serious environmental challenges.   Fortunately, however, there is now much more recognition of the environmental problems, and Government and civil society are focusing more on sustainability and innovation in solving them than ever before.

The delegates visited many areas of interest in Yunnan province, Beijing, Baoding, Tianjin, Nanjing and Shanghai – including government and NGO offices, museums, universities new development sites, farms, a solar panel factory and food waste plant, lakes and wetlands. One of the latter was the 24,000 hectare wetland reserve located in Chongming Island near Shanghai.  The reserve is helping to protect over one million migratory birds, including cranes, herons, geese, ducks and shorebirds which use the island as a resting place during migration to and from New Zealand

The delegation identified a number of opportunities in the environmental field for collaboration between New Zealand and China. For example, they connected a New Zealand company with ‘Agrigarden’, a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Environmental Science, to investigate ‘masterplanning’ opportunities, and made useful contacts for future collaboration in freshwater science between New Zealand and Chinese Universities.

To see the full report, click here. It is a thorough and interesting report on the experiences of the delegation and the insights they gained from the visit. Deborah also has some useful advice to people considering a trip to China and some useful hints on what to watch out for (food poisoning was contracted by the whole group in Yunnan!).

The Delegates were:

  • Deborah Robertson, Master of Marine Conservation (MMC), Master of Environmental Planning (MEP). Natural Resources Specialist.
  • Emma Hill, MMC. Climate Change Analyst.
  • Kirk McDowell, Master of Developmental Studies.  Strategy and Risk Adviser.
  • Marc Schallenberg, PHD in limnology (freshwater science).  Research Fellow, University of Otago.
  • Leana Barriball, MMC.  Manager, Resource Management & Communications Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira.
  • Shreejan Pandey, Master Electrical Engineering. Manager of Electric Power Engineering Centre, University of Canterbury.

Thanks go to the sponsors of the delegation: