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July 1, 2015

EU-China Research Call in the Cards

EU-China Research Call in the Cards

JPI Urban Europe has rekindled efforts to partner with China in a jointly funded call for smart cities research projects. 

With China working up a new five-year development plan for the years 2016-2020, the time is ripe for JPI Urban Europe to put together a call for proposals with joint funding from European and Chinese institutions, according to recent analysis.

JPI Urban Europe, a European research initiative supported by SEiSMiC, initiated a series of transnational joint calls on urban development in 2012. Forming a new partnership with the Smart Cities Member States Initiative, together known as ERA-NET Cofund Smart Cities and Communities (ENSCC), the participating funding agencies have “launched an additional activity working towards a smart cities call with China in the near future,” according to report published in June.

China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan (FYP, 2016–2020) identifies “sustainable urbanisation” as a key policy priority, which means that the months ahead provide a unique window of opportunity for JPI/ENSCC to engage “key Chinese government agencies and partners at both the national and the regional levels,” the report says.

If urbanisation in China continues at its current pace, measures toward sustainability are key. China’s urban population has been climbing steadily upward — by about 1.5% every year — for more than a decade, from 40.53 percent in 2003 to 53.73 percent in 2013. That has put China well above the Asian average of 46 percent, and a bit higher than the world average of 53 percent. With more and more Chinese crowding into cities, coal and oil still account for the vast majority of the country’s energy production. Air and groundwater pollution are major health and environmental problems with potentially global ramifications.

With an urbanisation rate roughly 20 percent higher than China’s, and with high environmental and public health standards, Europe has experience and expertise to offer China in terms of sustainable urban development. And from a European perspective, there is much to be gained economically and diplomatically through partnerships that find innovative solutions to problems linked to rapid development. Lessons learned from dual research and exchange have the potential to revolutionise green development models worldwide.

Anticipating the strategic importance and scope for activity of a China-EU comprehensive partnership, China published its second EU policy paper in 2014, which outlined five key priorities related to science and technology (S&T) and innovation, namely:

  1. cooperation on urbanisation, an important vehicle for carrying out exchanges on current innovation and development trends;
  2. cooperation on industry, agriculture, transportation, S&T and information technology;
  3. cooperation on scientific research innovation within the framework of the China-EU S&T Steering Committee and the China-EU Cooperation Dialogue;
  4. establishment of a China-EU technological cooperation network or joint research base and industrial alliance on strategic emerging industries such as renewable energy, digital information, advanced manufacturing, nanotechnology, and health and medicine; and
  5. greater synergy between china’s efforts to pursue ecological progress and EU’s efforts to increase resource efficiency, with positive impacts on climate change, energy, environmental protection, water resources and maritime cooperation.