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Water management: „China is open for advice”

09/26/2011 - More than 140 million people live there, and businesses are booming: water is getting scarce in the Haihe river basin in northern China. High-ranking representatives of the local Water Conservancy Commission now came to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) to obtain reports on water management constrained by climate change. For two years, experts from the region – which encompasses the large cities Beijing and Tianjin – have been partnering with those of PIK. Modelling of sustainable use of resources, once developed for the Elbe river region in Germany, is applied to some particularly dry parts of the Haihe.
Water management: „China is open for advice”

Photo: PIK

This region is affected heavily by climate change, says PIK-project leader Frank Wechsung: “Summers in the last few years have become even drier, the average warming has been about one degree above what is experienced in Germany – and according to our research results so far, these trends will continue.” Huge pipelines already bring water across thousands of kilometers from southern China up north. The economy as well as residents need considerable amounts of water. “Therefore, the Chinese are mindful of the climate issue, and they are very open for additional scientific advice”, says Wechsung.

Amongst the participants of the meeting was Hu Zioliang, vice director of the Haihe Water Conservancy Commission, the director of which ranks as a vice minister in the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. From this ministry’s International Bureau Andreas Suthhof was also participating, he is the coordinator of the group “internationalisation of sustainability research”. Longstanding partners of PIK – such as the Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, but also small and medium enterprises – are contributing to this project as well.

“For the economic development of China, water is a factor of strategic dimensions” says Wolfgang Lucht, chair of PIK’s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerability. “Using computer-based simulations we can provide calculations which China regards as being helpful for pre-planning” – for attaining diagnoses as well as options for solutions. This is why the Water Conservancy Commission is actively interested in working with PIK. At the same time, the project is an opportunity for doing research. “This is an exciting large-scale project on adaptation to climate change in a region with strong economic growth”, says Lucht. “If China leads here, by applying sustainable solutions, others will watch closely.”

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