BERN, SWITZERLAND – China and Switzerland have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “intensify dialogue on environmental policy and facilitate expertise and information sharing on air pollution control, water protection, waste management and nature protection.”
The MOU, signed in Bern Thursday 28 June by Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard and China’s Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian, comes as the two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement.
The MOU is based on a decision during Leuthard’s working visit to Beijing in January of this year to expand cooperation between the two ministries, giving a framework to long-standing joint efforts in this area. The two countries have been actively exchanging ideas and experience in the area of water management and dealing with natural disasters, based on a 2010 agreement.
Bern says that the new MOU’s main focus “is cooperation on air pollution control, water protection, waste management, nature protection and green production and consumption. It will promote dialogue on policy and facilitate an exchange of know-how and information on both legislation and technologies in those fields.”
A key feature, however, is an “option to involve industry, universities and other actors in the cooperation activities”. EPFL in Lausanne already has an active exchange programme with China, for example, and other universities have been developing exchanges for information, programmes and students.
The Swiss offices involved in environmental work with China are the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the State Secretariat for Education and Research.