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Sessions 3 and 4. What can we learn from the similarities and differences between China and Europe? How might we strengthen the dialogue between China and Europe ?

Report of proceedings. Workshop WT54. China-Europe Forum 2007

SESSION 3. What can we learn from the similarities and differences between China and Europe?

Synthesis of the big challenges in China and in Europe:

In discussing the specific challenges and the common challenges, we will be able to identify the areas for collaboration. These big challenges are the following:

  • Be able to ensure the food security of the Chinese and European people

  • Preserve natural resources (soils, forests, farmlands, biodiversity)

  • Preserve traditional knowledge and cultural knowledge that allow people to benefit from these resources

  • Control urban sprawl and preserving the limit between the city and the countryside

  • Overcome energy challenges

  • Reflect upon the organization of farm production (large farms or little units?)

  • Resolve the problems of European agricultural development (which produces negative side-effects on the environment and is not necessarily sustainable)

  • Connect different levels of decision-making (local/national/global bodies)

  • Define and guarantee the rights of different groups (families, village communities, nomadic tribes, cities, rural areas, States, etc.)

  • Distinguish the law from the real-life practices

  • Manage the income streams related to land and real estate resources

  • Protect soils, which are diverse and complex natural spaces

  • Provide farmers with the possibility to mobilize themselves so that they themselves can participate in the definition of the objectives to be reached

  • Give culture the importance that it deserves, because if a law does not correspond to the culture, it is almost never applied, especially if its about the land

  • Link soil management issues to water management issues

  • Overcome the challenge of employment and productivity in the farming sector. It is necessary to preserve farm employment in order to maintain the territory.

  • Think about environmental problems from an economic and financial standpoint, and no longer from a moral one. How can we organize ourselves in order to be content with only one Earth?

  • Overcome the challenge of global warming, which involves land preservation, controlling urbanization, and internalizing environmental costs over natural spaces.

All these governance problems constitute the core of the problem to be developed in depth in order to move the debate forward.

Synthesis of the similarities and differences in the big challenges:

These big challenges are at the crossroads of four big fields of thought: law (management of rights), politics (governance), economy (income streaming from land tenure, tourism, the environment, etc.), and culture (relationship between the land and peoples).

SESSION 4. How might we strengthen the dialogue between China and Europe ?

Several possible areas of collaboration have been proposed in order to face the big challenges of China and Europe. The areas that we need to develop together are (in no particular order):

  • Privilege field visits, in Europe and in China

  • Work together to find the financial means for organizing joint scientific missions

  • Immediately begin preparatory work for the next China-Europe Forum, and set up an office for organizing these activities with one Chinese and one European manager

  • Take advantage of already existing exchange platforms and capitalize on projects that are already in action

  • Set up a platform for putting together an ensemble of well-defined projects as well as a process of reflection and research on the big issues at hand in China and in Europe

  • Privilege scholarships in order to promote mixed and diversified education

  • Be at the origin of exchange programs (between farmers, practitioners, academics, government representatives, etc)

  • Begin joint comparative research programs to increase the level of knowledge

  • Widen the socio-professional background of the dialogue’s participants (especially for the third edition of the China-Europe forum): we need to involve farmers, political decision-makers, etc, and not only academics.

  • Set up a common publishing program, prepare articles for mass distribution, employ medias that reach the public (video, etc) in order to make this no longer a debate among people in-the-know

  • Privilege and promote the devices of decentralized cooperation (sister cities, etc)

  • Urge Chinese and European policy-makers to place land and soil issues on their national/international agendas