Canada-China environmental cooperation started in the mid-1980s and is now recognized as a strategic pillar of Canada’s relationship with China, under the Canada-China Joint Statement issued when Prime Minister Harper visited China in December 2009. Canada and China pursue cooperation through several bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
In 1992, a major building block in Canada-China cooperation on environment was laid when the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided assistance for the establishment of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a high-profile international advisory body to the Chinese Government for collaboration and exchange on matters of sustainable development. Canada is CCICED’s lead international partner, and serves as the International Executive Co-Chair. Canada’s support for the work of the CCICED has been a cornerstone of Canada’s engagement with China on environmental policy issues. As a high-profile international advisory body, chaired by the Chinese Vice Premier and co-chaired by China and Canada, the CCICED provides world class policy advice to China to help the country deal with its considerable environmental challenges. CCICED has been credited with a number of positive environmental policy changes undertaken by China over the past 20 years, such as the decision to build an Environment and Health Management System and the policy needs associated with a Low Carbon Economy. (Further details are available on the CCICED website.)
Bilateral cooperation on the environment is carried out through mechanisms such as the Canada-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) and the Joint Committee on Environmental Cooperation (JCEC). Bilateral cooperation covers a wide range of areas such as climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, biodiversity conservation, protected areas management, mercury emissions control, water resources as well as environmental monitoring and assessment.
Recognizing this long history of collaboration and the potential for even deeper cooperation, since 2009 Canada and China have reinforced cooperation on environment through the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). These MOUs address Canada and China cooperation on climate change, fisheries and oceans science, environmental cooperation, and conservation of protected areas.