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River Health and Environmental Flow in China


The ACEDP is a five year, $25m Australian Government, AusAID initiative with the objective of supporting and improving policy development in China in the area of environmental protection and natural resources management. Initially the focus is on water resources and river basin management, however inclusion ofother high priority areas is a possibility.

The ACEDP aims to facilitate enduring partnerships between Australian and Chinese agencies, institutions and individuals engaged in national environmental policy development and implementation through a combination of high level policy dialogue, capacity building measures and collaboration on
discreet activities that demonstrate good environmentalgovernance.

Integral to the success of the ACEDP is ownership by the two partner countries. This is achieved through a joint Australian Chinese annual planning process that determines the strategic direction of the ACEDP. While the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) ‘own’ the ACEDP, a group of national level government agenciesin both countries constitute its main decision making body. An independent Environmental Advisory Team (EAT), comprising internationally renowned experts, provides high level appraisal and review functions and ensures activities are consistent with ACEDP objectives.

Throughout its lifetime the program will remain dynamic and flexible to respond to emerging environmental policy priorities. Italso provides a unique level of access and engagement for executive
level Australian and Chinese Government officials. The ACEDP has three components, each with a specific objective.

Component 1: environmental governance and dialogue: to demonstrate methods and applications of
improved governance in China and to develop and enhance the environmental policy dialogue between China and Australia.Component 2: integrated river basin management: to assist with the practical application of integrated
river basin management principles in China.

Component 3: program management: to provide strategic direction to, and effective coordination and
efficient management of, the environment program.

For more information on ACEDP, please visit the website at


2.1 Background

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) has been defined as a process that aims to coordinate the development and management of land and water resources through a whole of catchment or river basin approach, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vitalecosystems. It describes a holistic approach to water resource management at basin to regional scales and aims to meet human water needs without compromising the sustainability of ecosystem. At the river basin scale, it is often referred to as Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM).

Sustaining river health is a core objective of IRBM. There are direct links between human health and the healthof rivers. Healthy rivers perform many essential ecosystem services as well, including sustaining fisheries, providing safe environments for recreation, and trapping and transforming contaminants. The alteration of flow regimes often has a serious and continuing threat to the health of rivers and their associated floodplain wetlands. Environmental flows are the flows of water that are needed tomaintain healthy functioning water dependent ecosystems and ensure that the benefits derived from rivers and streams can be sustained. There is growing recognition that many attributes of the natural flow regime need to be considered.

Rivers are a vital part of China’s natural infrastructure as they support local communities, agricultural industries, and are often a major focus for recreation...
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