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GEP Top Talk with Environmental diplomat-Mr.Xia Yingxian

“Your generation will better enjoy the international negotiation”, said Mr. Xia Yingxian on the Top Talk of Global Environment Program(GEP) held on 10thApril.


Xia is the leading Chinese delegate of a series of international environmental governance conferences, especially in the field of hazardous waste management. Besides representing China, he co-chaired the contact group of the 27th COPs (Conference of Parties) of Montreal Protocol, whose effort in controlling HFCs was highly praised by the Secretariat and international media. Xia is to participate in the BRS (Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm Convention) Joint COPs to be held from 24thApril to 5th May, Geneva, Switzerland. He was hence invited to Top Talk to share his view of international environmental governance and specifically the preparation for the BRS COPs.


The first thirty minutes was given to Xia’s keynote speech. He commented that China gradually begins to take the responsibility of bridging the south and north as the division between both sides was blurring. “Our observation for the international environmental governance (IEG) is a kind of fight for our interests stipulated by international principle and multilateral environmental agreements”, said Xia when referring to the change of “outside environment”, the worldwide political culture that evolved over a long time of interaction. He quoted Zhu Rongji, the former Prime Minister of China, to show how dramatically the ideas towards IEG could be different, by saying, “We (China) define ourselves as sustainable countries with Chinese characteristics”, on the Earth Summit, 1992, Johannesburg. Xia remarked that China has stepped into a new phase of joining IEG with better understanding, trust and capability, but also more expectation and obligation. He concluded his speech by giving his anticipation of the ideal international environmental governance. It included the following keywords: just, acceptable, universally involved and equal.


Xia later opened the floor to GEP students. Some were interested in Xia’s negotiation skills. Xia responded that the core is to be humorous. “Our generation, unlike you, was raised up in a bitter life. You will feel freer to argue and discuss in that atmosphere.” He emphasized that negotiation was nothing more than knowing “what you are doing”, “let the opponents know your challenge” and “keep in mind to compromise”. Others asked his experience as a co-chair. Xia smiled with ease that “it would give me a lot of memories”. He shared his three critical moments when facing challenges of reaching a consensus of text or being questioned by the authority. Students who were to be the observers of BRS COPs raised questions regarding some specific issues of the coming conference. Xia took the synergy of the Rio Conventions with the the Minamata Convention on Mercuryas one of the main focuses of this COP. He mentioned that with the uncertainty of the Minamata Convention, it is still too far from coordinating all the four conventions because of management confusion.


Around 30 GEP students participated this Top Talk, with Prof. Lu Xi representing GEP to show great gratitude towards Xia Yingxian through his concluding remark. Students have gained a deeper understanding in the status quo of environmental diplomacy and the mission as a global environmentalist, expressing their determination on sharpening negotiation skills.