Greening the BCIM: Exploring India-China cooperation on green infrastructure, clean energy and climate change
India and China are facing similar kind of environmental issues. In order to sustain and improve their economic growth rate which is essential to support their large population, both the countries need to adopt the path of industrial and infrastructure development. Creating better cities and improving urban governance are some of the common areas of mutual interest between India and China wherein environmental concerns emerge, creating a potential for sharing and learning from each other between the two countries.
Drawing from this background, ICEC Council organized the visit of a delegation from the prestigious Policy Research Centre on Environment and Economy (PRCEE) of the Ministry of Environment Protection, China to India during the second week of May, 2016. The delegation comprised of the Director General of the PRCEE, Senior Research Fellow and the Junior Research Fellow.
During their visit in Delhi the delegation met with key government, non-government organizations (NGOs) and public policy think tanks in India of national and international repute. Some of them include The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) which is a special regulatory institution established by the Supreme Court of India, The Energy Research Institute (TERI), WWF-India, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), the Third Pole (TPP) and the Indian Environment Law Offices (IELO).
The deliberations and discussions between the organizations and the delegation were in-depth and focused. Many areas of cooperation and joint research emerged which needs to be taken forward by the institutions in India and China. A very brief summary of the key discussion points is reproduced herein below:
- BCIM presents a new and unique opportunity for the four countries to collaborate and become a platform for the region. BCIM will involve environmental issues with respect to clearing up the corridor and energy requirements. “Greening the BCIM” is one area where PRCREE and WWF-India seemed to be very interested to initiate a joint research project. Other areas related with green buildings and solar energy development can also be identified.
- Water pollution and contamination is an issue shared by India and China. Industrial ground water contamination is a big issue in China but it is not such a big challenge for the regulators in India. Still, in future as the industry grows India might face similar problems. Ground Water technological cooperation is another area identified by the agencies in India and the PRCEE.
- ORF is a prominent think tank in India and Asia. Interest to organize joint workshops on BCIM and other environmental issues was identified as an area of mutual interest to which the PRCEE delegation and ORF seemed very keen to embark upon and start a collaborative project.
- Media reporting on environmental issues in China and India has been very insensitive. Building of dams by China and their reporting by the media is a case in point. The Third Pole and PRCEE have shown interest to take up this as an area of further research and include it in one of their programs.
A number of joint and collaborative programs could be initiated with TERI. The potential is very much to look into air quality issues, waste technology, green buildings, climate modeling, city infrastructure etc. PRCEE and TERI appointed a nodal point person to take the communication forward for indentifying areas and opportunities for collaboration and research.