In 2000, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) started its Environmental Cooperation Program, jointly with the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP, former State Environmental Protection Administration) of the People's Republic of China. This Program is implemented in collaboration with a number of Chinese institutions, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Water Resources, the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the municipal authorities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi'an, Suzhou, Lanzhou and Urumqi, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Jiaotong University and Tongji University in Shanghai.
In October 2000, the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program Office for Environment Protection was established by MEP and IMELS. As the standing body of the Steering Committee of Sino-Italian Cooperation Program, the office is composed of experts and officers chosen by the two ministries. It provides an important channel to introduce technologies, funds and management expertise to China in the field of environmental protection and boosts trade relations between China and Italy. The program office is in charged with the development and implementation of Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection.
Up to now, 85 projects have been implemented within the program in the field of environmental monitoring and management, institutional capacity building, natural resources protection and conservation, water resources management, waste-to-energy, environmental protection in China’s poorest areas, energy efficiency and renewable energies development, sustainable urban planning, low-emission transportation systems and technologies, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection, and forest management. The projects have been designed and implemented according to the United Nations conventions and protocols on climate change, ozone layer protection, biodiversity protection, persistent organic pollutants and desertification. The projects on energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste-to-energy, and forest management are meant to originate emission credits, as provided for in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.
The IMELS, Chinese ministries and agencies, Italian and Chinese scientific institutions and universities collaborate on the carrying out of this program. In particular, on the Italian side, the National Research Council (CNR), the Universities of Bologna, Pavia, Turin, Tuscia, Venice, Bocconi University, Venice International University, the Mattei Foundation, and the University Consortium of Industrial and Managerial Economics participate in the Program implementation.
In 2005, the Chinese Government acknowledged the contribution of Sino-Italian cooperation towards Chinese environmental protection and sustainable development by awarding the prestigious International Prize for Science and Technology to the Director General of the IMELS, Dr. Corrado Clini.