The ASEM Water Resources Research and Development Center founded in China, is a permanent research and development organization in water S&T cooperation under the framework of ASEM mechanism, which has been running smoothly for 15 years. The major objectives of the Center are to cultivate an effective mechanism, a high-quality work team and a well-established platform in water resources research and development, and gradually make it a multi-facets one, i.e. the center for Asian-European S&T research and coordination with international influence and charisma, the center of policy recommendations and technological consultations, the center of technological training and exchange, the R&D and test center for new products, and the demonstration & extension center for research achievements.
As one of the fundamental natural resources and strategic economic resources, as well as a controlling element influencing eco-environment, water is vital for human survival and sustainable socio-economic development. Sustainable use and integrated management of water resources also play a key role in addressing global climate change. With rapid development of world economy, negative factors such as population growth, eco-environment deterioration and ill-management, have further exacerbated the crisis of fresh water. Thus in the face of common challenges, Asian-European countries have to effectively solve problems of water supply, drought, floods, soil erosion, and water pollution etc., accelerate the progress of sustainable water use and integrated management, and promote the exploration and demonstration of water-saving technologies.
The inaugural ASEM Summit (ASEM 1) was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 1996. In 1999, the ASEM Science and Technology Ministers Meeting convened in Beijing put forward the proposal of strengthening S&T cooperation in water resources management. In 2002, ASEM Forum on Water Resources Management was held in Changsha, Hunan Province, China, adopting a Changsha Declaration on Asian-European S&T Cooperation in Water Resources Management. Later in 2005, Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the European Union (EU) launched “Multi-stakeholder Platform for ASEM S&T Cooperation on Sustainable Water Use” (ASEMWATERNET), a project under EU Sixth Framework Program 6 (FP6). In 2009, ASEM Forum on Water Resources Management was hosted by Changsha, Hunan, China. At the meeting, representatives from both Asia and Europe reached a consensus on relevant priority themes as well as joint actions, and endorsed a Changsha Initiative with aims to set up a long-term cooperation mechanism for sustainable water use.
On 4 and 5 October 2010, the Eighth ASEM Summit (ASEM 8) was hosted by Belgium in Brussels. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended the opening ceremony and proposed in his speech to establish an ASEM Water Resources Research and Development Center in Hunan Province, with a view to promoting sustainable development in Asia and Europe through S&T collaboration and capacity improvement in water resources management. The initiative was welcomed by ASEM members and recorded in the “Advance on the Path of Sustainable Development” section of the Chair’s Statement as one of the important deliverables of the Summit.
Based on the principles of equality, opening-up and mutual benefits, the Center is officially founded in Changsha, Hunan, China in 2011 in the framework of ASEM. Being a regional organization specializing in science and technology cooperation and a public non-profit international organization, our center expects to unite related governments, universities, institutions and high-tech enterprises. On one side, the Center is to strengthen regional collaborations and facilitate the establishment of a long-term partnership among Asia-Europe water resources research institutes; to develop research network and create synergies through cooperative research, in a bid to jointly address common concerns about water use and water environment governance. On the other side, it is to submit policy recommendations and technical consultations to ASEM as well as Asian-European states and governments on sustainable water use and integrated management, strategic planning and action plans, etc.