Tackling Societal Challenges (Water Security and Urban Agriculture)

The objective of this DRAGON-STAR’s  task (Task 3.3) is to ‘Assess the scientific state of the art in China and European in two specific topics of societal importance and study a number of potential synergies. The status of cooperation will be studied as well as very specific challenges (under the  two areas) that need to be further addressed through joint research strategies’.

The first approach uses two case studies in areas of societal importance (water security and urban agriculture) to identify areas for potential Sino-European collaboration in the future. These topics were selected because there is high-level interest in further collaboration (e.g. EU-China Joint Declaration on Urbanisation 2012 and the ongoing China-EU Dialogue on Agriculture and Rural Development) or because funded examples of Sino-European research collaboration exist (e.g. FP7 SPRING, EuropeAid EU-China River Basin Management Programme). Also, they are both topics of global significance and limiting factors in China’s economic and social development.

At this stage of the project, the approach used was to identify the main drivers of research in these areas in China, the main funding agencies, the types of research currently funded and the areas which likely to be funded in the future. Whilst most reviews of Chinese research focus on work which is published in the international literature, the vast majority of research funded in China is not well represented in this forum. DragonSTAR has instead tried to focus attention on the projects which have received funding and then searched for research outputs. Due to the complexities of the Chinese funding systems, much of this information is highly fragmented, difficult to obtain and presented in highly technical language which is often difficult to translate into English. It is also worth noting that the information gathered for this report is that which has been considered suitable for public release. There will be considerable information withheld from public scrutiny, particularly from international scrutiny, for reasons of confidentiality and concerns about how the information will be used.

The second approach involves interviewing Chinese and European scientists who have first-hand experience of conducting EU-China research for their recommendations on how best to develop links and deliver research with China or Europe based researchers, the challenges they have faced, as well as their experience and views of the more technical aspects of project management and coordination. The interviews for the pilot study have been completed but are yet to be analysed so the results are not presented here. The full interview campaign will begin in the summer of 2014. Researchers working in the two case study areas described above will be targeted preferentially.

Both approaches will be combined to identify specific topics for future collaboration with guidelines on best practice on how to support and deliver research in these areas from the view point of the researchers.

Download the first report