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Europe – Asia Center

Erik Solheim, Co-Chair of the Europe – Asia Center awarded the prestigious 2023 Chinese Government Friendship Award


Brussels, February 4th, 2024


The Co-Chair of the Europe – Asia Center, Excellency Erik Solheim, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as Vice Chairman of the International Green Development Coalition under the Belt and Road Initiative, was honoured with the 2023 Chinese Government Friendship Award. This distinguished accolade was presented to Excellency Erik Solheim by Chinese Prime Minister Mr Li Qiang.


The Chinese Government Friendship Award is an honour established by the Chinese government to commend foreign experts working in China, who have made significant contributions to China’s reform and development.


During his tenure as Executive Director of UNEP from 2016 to 2018, Erik Solheim facilitated the signing of a cooperative document between China and UNEP on building a Green Belt and Road and promoted the establishment of the International Green Development Coalition under the Belt and Road Initiative. These initiatives significantly enhanced international collaboration of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in environmental domain globally.


In recent interview for CCTV’s “Face to Face”, Mr. Solheim shared China’s global leadership in the field of green technology. He pointed out that China accounts for 60% to 80% of the global market in solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, electric vehicles, and buses. He furthermore emphasized the need to encourage these technologies and enterprises to invest and trade more with developing countries.

Excellency Solheim was particularly impressed by the transformation in Anji, Zhejiang, and the development of hydropower resources in the Yalong River, Sichuan. These cases not only demonstrate a profound shift in China’s development philosophy but also highlight China’s key role in the global green transition. He believes that with its advantages in new energy vehicles and clean energy technologies, China is fully capable of leading the global green transition, achieving a win-win situation for economic growth and environmental protection.


As Chairman of the Europe-Asia Center, Erik Solheim has not only deepened the dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe but also injected new vitality into global prosperity. His contributions have set a model for cooperation between China and Europe in the field of green development and provided valuable experiences and insights for countries worldwide to jointly face environmental challenges and promote sustainable development.


For press enquiries:


Matic Gajšek, Director for Europe, Europe – Asia Center

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