Collaborations with the province of Jiangsu take on new dimensions

By: Julie Zhang

Government Relations Manager, FII China

A substantial government outreach program focused on Green and Low-Carbon Development in China was conducted by FII China with regional Foreign Affairs Offices (FAO) in 2021, and Jiangsu was prioritized as a key province for the first round of the program. As a result of the first event, in October 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between FII and the Jiangsu FAO to strengthen bilateral exchanges and cooperation together.

The established framework ushered in new chapter for bilateral cooperation and laid the foundation for more substantial cooperation in the era of China’s carbon peak and carbon neutrality strategies. A range of follow-up activities and engagements were carried out under the MOU framework to build momentum, and the past year has witnessed that the collaboration in Jiangsu province achieving new heights for the ways that FII China can work with regional government authorities.

As the department responsible for communications between different branches of local government with regards to international collaboration, the Jiangsu FAO introduced FII China to relevant provincial and municipal stakeholders to support relevant programs. In January 2022, the Jiangsu FAO introduced the FII China team to the new leadership of the Jiangsu branch of MOHURD and the provincial Department of Agricultural and Rural Affairs. The Jiangsu FAO also supported FII China to explore demonstration opportunities to scale up the use of Canadian wood across their province. From February to May, the Jiangsu FAO organized several meetings among FII China, Canada Wood China and Changzhou city to discuss potential cooperation on a project for Changzhou’s rural revitalization strategy, leading FII China to Changzhou on multiple visits to review the possibilities. Although the proposed project was postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks, the connections made between FII China and municipal stakeholders in Changzhou still holds strong potential for new opportunities.

In addition to building bridges for FII China in Jiangsu province, over the last year FII China and the Jiangsu FAO have carried out several visits to plan the 2nd Jiangsu-Canada Green and Low-carbon Development Conference. The Deputy Director General of the Jiangsu FAO, Liu Jiandong led a mission to Shanghai to visit the Dream Home Canada building and meet FII China to discuss the conference. Through frequent communications, the Jiangsu FAO was able to form a better understanding of the work of FII China, and learned more about the history of what FII China and Canada Wood China has accomplished with Jiangsu’s government stakeholders, universities, design institutes and enterprises. Recognizing how fruitful the bilateral relationship has been over the years, the Jiangsu FAO recommended Michael Loseth, the CEO and president of FII, to the Jiangsu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries as a candidate for “Envoy of People’s Friendship of Jiangsu Province,” and Michael Loseth won the honorary title in October 2022. This title serves as an official recognition of the economic and social benefits of the contributions FII China has made to the construction industry in Jiangsu province, through the programs delivered to promote wood construction development.

The government recognition of FII China in Jiangsu was further demonstrated at two events in the fall of 2022. The first was the Wuxi’s 2022 International Conference on Green and Innovation-driven Development in Cities and Towns event on November 2nd. The event was co-organized by the Jiangsu FAO, the Jiangsu provincial Department of Development and Reform Commission, the provincial MOHURD, the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Wuxi municipal government. FII China was invited by the Jiangsu FAO as VIP guests to share the stage with the national, provincial and municipal officials as well as senior fellows of Chinese Academy of Engineering during the opening ceremonies. It was a meaningful example of how FII China has become more visible at mainstream events and established a voice that is heard by influential stakeholders. The second event was at the 15th Green Building Conference held in late November in Nanjing. FII China was invited to introduce wood as a solution for Jiangsu’s green building development, with audience over 1000 people. The highlights of the two events were that FII China was able to promote Canadian wood on larger and more influential stages without having to be a financial sponsor of the event. This is the result of more targeted efforts, and refined engagement strategies.

The collaborations with Jiangsu province ended 2022 with a high-level program that fully engaged the new dimensions of the relationship. On December 8, 2022, the 2nd Jiangsu-Canada Green and Low-carbon Development Conference was held in Nanjing, organized in partnership with the Jiangsu FAO, the Jiangsu Provincial MOHURD and FII. Although the conference was challenged by COVID-19 restrictions, the event was attended by senior officials both online and offline. In Nanjing, speeches and presentations were delivered by Fei Shaoyun, the Secretary of the CPC of Jiangsu MOHURD, Liu Jiandong, Deputy Director General of the Jiangsu FAO and Liu Dawei, the Former Deputy Head of Jiangsu provincial MOHURD and the current President of International Green Building Alliance. This group represented some of the highest-level authorities for the construction and real estate sector in the province. FII China also leveraged partnerships with the China Real Estate Association (CREA) to amplify the impact of the event, inviting Chen Yiming, the Vice President and Secretary-general of the CREA, and the former Chief Engineer of national MOHURD. He gave an online keynote presentation on the benefits of wood as a green prefabricated construction material, and examples of modern wood projects that could be considered for broader use in China. From Canadian side, Michael Loseth, the CEO & President of FII, and Dave Murphy, the Consul General of Canada in Shanghai delivered speeches for the event.

The half-day event consisted of three important parts, including a 15-min tour wood project models, an opening ceremony and keynote presentations. During the tour of wood project models, FII China showcased examples of outstanding wood projects to senior officials from the Jiangsu MOHURD and the Jiangsu FAO. The project models included the net-zero energy consumption project built in partnership with the Jiangsu Urban-Rural Vocational College in Changzhou, the Wuxi Inspur Big Data Industrial Park, Shanghai Xijiao Hotel and Shandong Yangxin Pear Tourist Center. The tour also included the endorsement of wood projected developed by the local government, with the Jiangsu Green Building Alliance showcasing wood projects alongside advancements made in green building solutions over the past few years. The model tour proved to be of particular interest to the senior officials, who raised many questions about how the projects were constructed, and the possibilities to scale up the use of wood through expanding the development of similar projects in other parts of the province. Building on the theme of project tours, a virtual tour was also delivered by FII China on screen, providing supplementary information about iconic wood projects in Canada with a virtual walk through that highlighted the application of modern technologies and building solutions using wood.

The cooperation between Canada and Jiangsu at this event was not limited to the development of wood construction. During the opening ceremony, the Jiangsu International Chamber of Commerce signed an MOU with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, and a joint declaration for collaborations on green development was established by the Jiangsu-Canada University Cooperation Alliance.

In the lead up to the main conference, a small but high-level roundtable discussion was held on December 7th, named “The Experts Opinion on Green Building.” This event was organized by the Jiangsu MOHURD and the International Building Alliance, with the Jiangsu FAO and FII China as supporting organizations. The Experts Opinion on Green Buildingis part of a series of events launched by Jiangsu MOHURD in 2021, with senior fellows and famous experts who are invited by the provincial government to share their experiences and insights on Jiangsu’s green development strategies. For the December 7th roundtable, the theme was “Wood Construction-Green and Low-carbon”, and Jiangsu invited two senior fellows of Chinese Academy of Engineering, famous architects from Jiangsu, the CEO of Crownhomes, professors from Nanjing Tech University and Nanjing Forestry University, and representatives from Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design, CREA and FII China to discuss how to promote wood development in a green way. It’s a good example that how FII China can use external platforms and partners to promote wood construction with the endorsement of local officials and renowned experts.

Jiangsu has been a strong advocator of green development and has become a leader in the green building sector with a growing number of achievements and projects that have advanced the limits on current building codes and standards. Through ongoing efforts to develop the market in Jiangsu over the years, local government officials have realized that no discussion on green building is complete without the mention of wood.

The past year witnessed FII China’s collaborations with Jiangsu province making significant progress and taking on new dimensions . Through continuous endeavors in promoting wood in Jiangsu province, local stakeholders have accepted wood as a part of their planning to reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector, with FII China seen as a reliable partner to support their green development targets. By engaging the regional foreign affairs office and leveraging external resources and platforms, FII China’s efforts in promoting wood has achieved more influence while deploying less resources. With the endorsement and recognition of local authorities and experts, the utilization of wood materials in Jiangsu province has a promising future. This serves as a good approached on how to do more with less, which could be emulated in other regions with a market potential to consume greater volumes of wood products. Particularly under the context of China’s double carbon strategy, the carbon advantages of wood have a substantial role in promotion efforts to promote sustainably harvested Canadian wood products.