The China Climate Change Partnership Framework

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In many parts of China, especially in the north, the long-term exploitation of precious groundwater has resulted in a serious drop in the water table and other geological and environmental problems, including an increase in ground sedimentation, an intrusion of seawater and desertification. Pollution from agriculture and industry has also contributed to the declining quality of groundwater. Climate change impacts are adding to the problem with more frequent extreme droughts, floods and other natural disasters impacting the groundwater’s recharging rates. (in Arabic, French and Spanish translation, replace with blue highlighted text in Factsheet translation document.)

The aim of the UN Joint Programme was to promote the mainstreaming of climate change mitigation and adaptation into Government policy and China’s achievement of MDG-7, the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ensures environmental sustainability.


The UN Joint Programme sought to mainstream environmental issues in national and sub-national policy, planning and investment frameworks, improve the local management of environmental resources and service delivery and enhance capacity to adapt to climate change.


  • The Joint Programme supported the Government of China in formulating its position on post-Kyoto strategies in the international climate change negotiations, supported the formulation of China’s Basic Energy Law, and helped develop rural energy strategies.
  • The Programme has also helped China to reduce its carbon intensity and greenhouse gas emissions by successfully demonstrating heat-recovery power generation technology and clean coal technology while exploring the effects on employment of a transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • The UN initiative also evaluated, through in-depth studies on biogas and conservation agriculture, the feasibility of alternative energy sources, such as biomass pellets, as well as the potential application of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
  • Over 200 companies became aware of climate change issues, corporate social responsibility and the UN Global Compact. In addition, vital information was disseminated on green finance mechanisms for the private sector and students and entrepreneurs in more than 20 universities and institutions were trained on Green Business Options.
  • The Joint Programme also conducted pioneering research, contributing to the scientific understanding of China’s climate change vulnerabilities and developing possible measures for adaptation. Specifically, the Programme touched upon the effects of climate change on glacial melting in the Himalaya mountains, water resources in the Yellow River Basin, depleted groundwater resources in northern China, and rising sea levels in China’s coastal provinces.
  • The Programme also promoted sustainable agriculture in the Yellow River Basin by demonstrating climate resilient and environmentally-sound agricultural practices to more than 1,000 farming households and hundreds of local technicians in the Yellow River area. Making the important connection between climate change and human health, the Programme’s partners developed local environment and health action plans at the provincial level; raised awareness among health professionals about the health-related impacts of climate change, and strengthened indicators, risk assessment tools and capacity for environmental health management.


The Programme faced the obvious challenges given China’s size and large population, as well as the fact that it is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and has extremely limited water resources-- a quarter of the world's average per capita; (in Arabic, French and Spanish translation, replace with yellow highlighted text in Factsheet translation document.)

  • Coordinating the first Joint Programme of its kind in China, involving nine UN Agencies and 10 national counterparts and pilot activities in 16 provinces, was also a challenge.

Way Forward

The case studies and key lessons learned from the Joint Programme will be compiled and the key results will be shared in a high-level international workshop on climate change that is going to be held in coordination with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Read more about this JP on the MDG-F website.

Week in Focus

Lessons Learnt

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