By Patrick Fitzgerald
A group of ninety Chinese academics will be touring Wisconsin later this week as part of the “U.S.-China Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Conference and Tour,” where the delegation will be whisked across the state as part of a cross-cultural exchange of ideas on environmental protection and rehabilitation.
The group was featured Wednesday at the Multi-State Working Group’s workshop on environmental performance in Madison, where several panels examined whether U.S. and Chinese markets can deliver on ecological results and chemical regulation. The nature of future trading between the two countries in the environmental goods and services sector was also discussed.
Terry Shelton, outreach director from the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison, said the delegation will help facilitate an open dialogue that will take them to areas such as the Horicon Marsh and Fox River to learn how those in Wisconsin rehabilitated their own heavily polluted rivers, a subject of special importance to the Chinese as their river systems are consistently regarded as some of the most heavily polluted throughout the world.
“It’s not just them coming over here to pick our brains, it’s an exchange of ideas on a cultural, governmental, environmental, and research levels,” said Shelton. “Part of it is saying Wisconsin has got some things regarding ideas that might help everyone out.”
Shelton said he hoped the tour would lead to international policy improvements.
“The importance of this group –made up of some of the brightest Chinese scholars studying around the United States, from Harvard to Duke to Berkeley, from soil science to law to microbiology — is that they are committed to going back home and making a difference in their country’s policies outside of their laboratories, work benches and bank offices.”
The group attended a reception at Gov. Jim Doyle’s executive residence Wednesday, and group members are due to attend an environmental conference Thursday in Madison.
The delegation will arrive in Milwaukee on Friday, where members will receive a lecture at the Great Lakes Water Institute on inter-state programs and U.S.-Canadian cooperation on pollution protocols and research.
The group will round out its tour of Wisconsin on Sunday, where it will receive another presentation at Johnson Controls in Milwaukee on energy savings, green building, and systems approaches between the United States and China before heading to Chicago.