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As one of the fundamental natural resources and strategic economic resources, and a key component and controlling element of eco-environment system, water is vital for human survival as well as sustainable socio-economic development. The sustainable water use and integrated management also plays a significant role in addressing climate change.

The inaugural ASEM Summit (ASEM 1) was held in Thailand in 1996. After that, a lot of actions were taken to promote Asia-Europe science and technology (S&T) partnership including water resources management. In 1999, the ASEM Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting held in Beijing put forward the proposal of strengthening science and technology cooperation on water management. In 2002 the ASEM Workshop on Water Management held in Changsha, China endorsed the Changsha Declaration on Water Management issues. In 2005, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the EU launched an imitative “Multi-stakeholder Platform for ASEM S&T Cooperation on Sustainable Water Use”(ASEMWATERNET), a project under EU 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6). In November 2009, the ASEM Forum on Water Resources Management was held in Changsha. Delegates from both Asia and Europe reached consensus on priority cooperation themes and joint actions concerning future collaboration in water-related areas. The Forum also endorsed a new Changsha Proposal to establish a long-term cooperation mechanism for sustainable utilization of water.

In light of multiple challenges faced by Asia and Europe and the call for S&T cooperation in water resources, at ASEM 8 in October 2010, Chinese Premier WEN Jiabao proposed to set up an ASEM Water Resources Research and Development Center in Hunan Province, with aims to jointly address challenges in the field of water resources through S&T collaboration, and to ensure sustainable socio-economic development in Asia and Europe. The proposal is welcomed by ASEM members and recorded in the Chair’s Statement of the Eighth Asia – Europe Meeting.

The Center aims to provide a platform for all ASEM members with interests in water resources to strengthen exchange and cooperation. China welcomes relevant government agencies, research entities, universities and other stakeholders from ASEM to participate in the Center’s cooperation.