The China-U.S. Center for Sustainable Development was first conceived in April 1999 on the occasion of China Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to Washington, D.C. for meetings on “Cooperation on Environment and Development” with Vice President Al Gore. A Memorandum of Understanding forming the China-U.S. Center was signed by China and the United States. This agreement recognized that our two countries have a significant impact on the economic, social and environmental future of the planet and the time was right to create a positive agenda for business, government, universities and non-governmental organizations to work in partnership. The Memorandum established a senior level Board of Councilors to set policies and provide guidance for the Center’s activities. The Memorandum also designated Secretariats in both countries to manage the ongoing work of the Center.

During 2000, the China and U.S. Secretariats exchanged delegations and established working relationships to coordinate future activities. Both China and the U.S. appointed Co-Chairs for the Board of Councilors. In China, Madame Deng Nan, then Vice Minister of Science and Technology and Chair of China’s Leading Group for Agenda 21 and now the Chief Executive Secretary of China’s Association for Science and Technology, was appointed Chair. In the U.S., William A. McDonough, FAIA, the renowned green architect and designer – Time Magazine’s “Hero for the Planet” in 1999 – was appointed as Chair. During 2000 and 2001, appointments were made to the Founding Board of Councilors from China, the US and throughout the world.

Initial organizing meetings were convened and the first Joint Board Meeting was convened in Beijing in September 2002. This meeting, which was pronounced a “smashing success” by U.S. Ambassador to China, Clark T. Randt, adopted a joint mission statement as well as organizing and operating principles.

Subsequent Board Meetings and Working Sessions have been held in China and the US.