China is facing numerous water crises-- lakes and rivers contaminated with toxic pollutants from unregulated industries and untreated urban wastewater; severe water shortages stemming from over-pumping of ground and surface water; and floods caused by deforestation and destruction of wetlands. Water degradation and scarcity in China contributes to population movements, health risks, and food security problems. Water problems ultimately have the potential to affect China's social, economic, and political stability.

This trilingual report on water challenges facing China developed out of a joint project between China Environment Forum (CEF) Coordinator Jennifer Turner and Kenji Otsuka at the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO). The project was titled "Crafting Japan-U.S. Water Partnerships: Promoting Sustainable River Basin Governance in China" and was generously funded by the New York office of the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership. Within this project the tri-national research team members wrote research papers that were published as IDE Spot Survey No. 28 in March 2005 as Promoting Sustainable River Basin Governance: Crafting Japan-U.S. Water Partnerships in China. This report incorporates some of the research published in the IDE Spot Survey, but predominantly includes new information and updates.

This new CEF report aims to present some options for the government, NGO, and research sectors in the United States and Japan (as well as other countries) to undertake collaborative river basin governance projects in China. To set the stage for a discussion of greater international cooperation around water in China, Part I discusses the magnitude of water problems in China. Next, Part II reviews the effectiveness of current water laws and institutions, as well as the small, yet growing indigenous NGO activity on water protection issues in China. Part III presents an overview of international aid and assistance in China to promote sustainable water management, as well as highlighting the gaps in this work. The conclusion in Part IV provides some potential themes that the Japanese and U.S. government, NGOs, and research communities could pursue jointly (or in parallel projects) in China to promote sustainable river basin governance.

Read English Version of "Reaching Across the Water"

Read Japanese and Chinese Versions of "Reaching Across the Water"