About the China Environment Forum

The water-energy-food choke point is forcing a new reckoning. Three colliding trends—declining freshwater reserves, booming energy demand, and uncertain grain supplies—are disrupting economies, governments, and environments around the world. As the world’s most populous country and biggest energy consumer, China’s energy, food, and environmental security is threatened as it hits these choke points. How Chinese policymakers deal with these water-energy-food confrontations will have significant domestic and global consequences. 

In 2010, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum (CEF) teamed up with the Michigan-based Circle of Blue to launch the Choke Point: China initiative, which created a broad assessment and narrative of the water-energy-food confrontations in the world’s second largest economy. We were the first to report that 20 percent of China’s annual water use goes to produce energy from coal. Our reporting also raised sobering questions on the large and overlooked energy footprint of water in China. Over 20 multimedia reports on China’s choke points have attracted considerable interest from policymakers, researchers, and NGOs in and outside China, catalyzing new research, policy discussions, and programming. 

To deepen these dialogues and highlight potential solutions, the China Environment Forum began a partnership with the Beijing-based environmental group Greenovation Hub to organize the first China Water-Energy Team (China WET) exchange in August 2013. During the week-long exchange, the team participated in six closed and two public roundtable discussions in Beijing with Chinese government research institutes, think tanks, environmental NGOs, universities, and businesses.

This Roadmap captures insights from the China WET exchange and numerous in-depth interviews with Chinese and U.S. environmental and energy practitioners. The three main goals of this Roadmap are to: 

  • Provide a snapshot of the water-energy-food trends and major players in China;
  • Identify research and policy gaps for addressing China’s water-energy-food choke points; and,
  • Propose potential solutions moving forward, with an emphasis on the role of China-U.S. collaboration to address the water-energy- food confrontations in both countries. 

The work of the China Environment Forum and Greenovation Hub aims to cross silos both within and across the U.S. and Chinese governments, research, business, and NGO communities to inform, and hopefully catalyze, better policymaking and a greener environment. We hope this Roadmap will play a small part in helping both countries better address the water-energy-food challenge. 

 

The Latest from the China Environment Forum

Webcast

Making Food Safe and Sustainable in China

Event //
July 28, 2015 // 2:00pm3:30pm
The leading source of water pollution in China is not industry or municipal waste, rather the country’s vast agricultural sector—pesticide and fertilizer runoff from fields and animal waste from industrial-scale farms. more

Cleaner and Greener Chinese Direct Investment in the U.S. Energy Sector

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July 30, 2015 // 9:30am11:30am
Despite China’s slowing domestic economic growth, global foreign direct investment (FDI) by Chinese companies increased 14 percent in the first half of this year. Here in the United States, many of those investments are fueling new U.S. clean energy projects in solar, wind, battery storage, and other emerging clean-tech sectors. When channeled correctly these investments can be a boon for the U.S. energy economy. more

Oakland’s Web of Waters Shapes New Economy, Civic Energy

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Jul 15, 2015
In March 1999, not long after he was sworn in as the 47th mayor of Oakland, Jerry Brown called Lesley Estes, the supervisor of the city’s watershed protection program. Brown, who is now California’s governor, wanted the city staffer he called “Creek Lady” to describe the most formidable ideas she had to conserve natural areas, make parks more beautiful, and clean up the city’s waters. more

Oakland’s Water Treatment Plant Generates Its Own Energy and Then Some

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Jul 15, 2015
Here in Oakland, the 64-year-old regional wastewater treatment plant has elevated an essential urban service to a new level of innovation and civic importance. The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) treatment plant, a formidable assembly of mixing tanks, pumps, and pipes on the city’s north side, has 11 megawatts of biogas-fueled electrical generating capacity, more than the plant’s power demand. The excess power is sold to the Port of Oakland, and EBMUD saves about $3 million in electric expenses a year. more

Christian Science Monitor Reported CEF Panel on Combatting Environmental Degradation and Poverty in Western China

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Jul 10, 2015
In Western China, abundant but fragile natural resources are juxtaposed against lagging economic development. Citizens now can apply for micro-loans to get started in farming, provided they operate in ways that are not damaging to the environment. These new sustainable models are quickly catching on, NGO leaders said at a panel hosted Monday by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. more

Experts & Staff

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