Adelaide and China join forces on environment

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The University of Adelaide and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have established a new research institute based in Australia and China, which aims to tackle some of the biggest environmental issues facing both countries - including water and soil quality.

The new China-Australia Environmental Science and Technology Institute will bring together complementary research groups from both countries to focus their efforts on food and water security and sustainability.

"This new research institute is a major step forward for both Australia and China," says the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) at the University of Adelaide, Professor Alan Johnson AM.

"This venture recognises the unique scientific talent in both nations and what we can collectively achieve to overcome key issues facing our countries, as well as other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The joint research to be conducted at the institute will help to ensure that our water supplies are fit for consumption by humans and animals - for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes - and that land management systems will sustain both countries' natural resources.

"The institute will also play an important role in building bridges between science, industry and government within and between Australia and China, and will greatly strengthen research, political, cultural and economic ties between the two countries," he says.

The formation of the institute will contribute towards achieving the objectives of the declaration of intent between the Australian and Chinese Governments to work together on water scarcity, recently signed by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull.

Professor Johnson says the institute will have a strong focus on encouraging the exchange of students and early career researchers, which will help to develop networks of scientists between the two countries that will last into the future.

"China is investing heavily into science, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences is a highly regarded and prestigious scientific organisation internationally," Professor Johnson says.

"Professor Yongguan Zhu, who is one of the joint leaders of this new institute, was recently given an award for being in the top 10 young scientists in the Academy, which gives an indication of the strength of the research group we are teaming up with."

Associate Professor Justin Brookes, a nationally renowned researcher in water quality research from the University of Adelaide, has been appointed a joint leader of the new institute.

"The institute will address environmental degradation of soil and water resources using a holistic approach, which requires cooperation from researchers with a range of disciplines," Associate Professor Brookes says.

"By working together, we will be more responsive to global threats, such as climate change, and be better placed to capitalise on new and emerging technologies that can help us to treat soils and water and ensure their sustainability."

The research will be undertaken across four themes:

  • Soil, plant and water interactions
  • Contaminant biogeochemistry (the fate and transport of contaminants through soil and water)
  • Water supply and human health
  • Environmental policy and management

Professor John Taplin, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), says the creation of the new China-Australia Research Institute is another welcome boost to the University of Adelaide's ties with China.

"The University of Adelaide has a strong relationship with Shandong University in China and has successfully launched a Confucius Institute to promote Chinese culture, study and cooperation," Professor Taplin says.

"This new collaboration, with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is further proof that China and Australia recognise the importance of cooperation and the quality of what we each have to offer in solving some of the world's biggest environmental problems."

The new China-Australia Environmental Science and Technology Institute will be officially launched later this year.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Justin Brookes
Cluster Leader, Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMMecology) Research Cluster; Joint Leader, China-Australia Environmental Science and Technology Institute
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3747
Mobile: 0418 898 782

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762