This paper compares water resource policies and management practices in China and Denmark. It takes two vulnerable water ecosystems as case studies: Baiyangdian wetland in China and Mariager fjord in Denmark. Based on the theories of the commons, this article explores the similarities and differences between the two ecosystems in terms of ecosystem characteristics, historical and cultural backgrounds of these societies, the technologies affecting the ecosystems and also how the ecosystems have been seen at different times as well as the existence of property rights through time. Both water bodies have experienced drastic and devastating impacts from human activities. The analysis shows both in Denmark and China, it can be expected that goals, once they are decided, will be implemented. But, in reality, it seems that this will be much easier to accomplish in Denmark than in China, probably due to the complicated administrative structure in China and clearer goals and better resources in Denmark. Denmark has also accomplished a large degree of environmental policy integration (EPI), which is not the case in China. But China has recently put environmental concerns high on the agenda, giving priority to environmental concerns, even highlighting sustainability as a future developmental goal. Denmark has also established a much more effective regulation of the different sectors contributing to the pollution of the ecosystems than China has.
Journal of Environmental Informatics, 2013, Vol 21, Issue 1, p. 72-83