Environmental cooperation with China

This page provides information on New Zealand's environmental cooperation with China, including the Environment Cooperation Agreement and the Cooperation Arrangement on Water.

Environment Cooperation Agreement (ECA)

As part of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA), New Zealand and China negotiated the Environment Cooperation Agreement (ECA). The ECA recognises that environmental laws and policies should be administered in pursuit of environmental objectives in a way that contributes to the mutual supportiveness of these and other policies to achieve sustainable development. The ECA provides a vehicle for cooperation between the two countries on environmental issues. Cooperation can include exchanges of experts, sharing of information, attendance at workshops and seminars, and collaborative research.

Find out more

Cooperation Arrangement on Water

Cooperation between New Zealand and China on water science and management continues to grow. During  a visit to Wellington of Vice Premier Hui Liangyu in September 2011, Dr Paul Reynolds, Secretary for the Environment signed a Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Water Resources, China.

New Zealand and China share many common challenges to improve our understanding and management of freshwater resources. China has set itself an ambitious target in its latest Five Year Plan to improve use and water efficiency. Improving water management is also a priority for New Zealand. There is much that New Zealand and China can learn from one another. There have been a number of exchanges between New Zealand and China on water science and management over the last two years. This arrangement will formalise these exchanges.

NZ Secretary for the Environment Dr Paul Reynolds and the Chinese Ambassador sign the arrangement on water cooperation

Implementing the environment agreements

Cooperation with China continues to strengthen and grow. Examples of our cooperative activities with China are listed below.

Ministerial engagement

The former Minister for the Environment and Minister for Climate Change Issues, Hon Nick Smith, visited Beijing in April 2011 and met with the Minister for Environmental Protection, Zhou Shengxian and Minister of Science and Technology, Wan Gang. The Minister emphasized the strong link between science and the environment and agreed with his counterparts that water quality in rural areas had become a top priority for both countries. The Minister also met with officials at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). While in Beijing the Minister took the opportunity to visit the National Training Base for Urban Search and Rescue to thank the team who had travelled to New Zealand to assist after the Christchurch earthquake.

Water Quality Collaboration Project

A joint New Zealand-China environmental science project under the ECA is investigating ways to improve water quality in rural areas. The project tests different ways of using stock effluent as fertiliser and how this affects plant growth, nutrient uptake, greenhouse gas emissions, and the quality and quantity of leachate or runoff. It involves six different cropping trials running from October 2013 until 2016.

NZ & China work to improve rural water quality in China media statement [Beehive website]

Reciprocal visits

In May 2011, the Ministry for the Environment hosted a delegation led by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection to investigate opportunities for more in-depth cooperation on non-point source water pollution in rural areas. The delegation met with policy makers, managers, scientists, industry and farmers in Hamilton, Wellington and South Otago.  View a report of the visit [PDF, 477 KB]. 

The Ministry for the Environment has hosted delegations from the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection on contaminated land and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The objective of these visits is to develop a mutual understanding of the issue of contaminated land and its management in New Zealand and China – the differences, similarities and challenges.