Program Goals and History

The impact of European-Chinese relations on global social and ecological developments is huge. We believe that is it important to involve civil society in this process. We want to create positive, human-centered impact through exchange between China and Europe.


The Twinning program therefore sponsors a unique cooperation experience for civil society organizations from both regions.


Each year, the Robert Bosch Stiftung together with Stiftung Mercator will award grants for 12 Chinese and 12 European NGOs to take part in this exchange. The program is organized by Stiftung Asienhaus in cooperation with Climate Action Network Europe and the China Association for NGO Cooperation.

Why Europe and China?


The political, economic and cultural relations between Europe and China have been growing over the last years, as has the impact of European-Chinese relations on global social and ecological developments. In this process, civil society is still playing a minor role. And there is still too little cooperation between organizations from both regions – although they are working on similar topics and face common global concerns – from climate change and environmental protection to sustainable production, food safety and social justice.
The future of our planet will significantly depend on how the relations between Europe and China are carved out.

Mutual understanding, capacity building and long-term cooperation


China is becoming more and more important for working areas of European NGOs, but they often lack access to information and know-how on engagement in the Chinese society. The mutual exchange of staff will enable the missing information on Chinese developments to channel directly into important multiplier organizations in Europe.
At the same time, Chinese NGOs will get important insights into the working methods of European NGOs. This professionalization and internationalization will enable more Chinese NGOs and grassroot activists to participate in international debates and to develop a joint vision for a better future.
Mutual exchange, joint work on a common topic and experiencing working and civil society conditions in the respective other region will help to facilitate long-term cooperation between the twinning partner organizations.

Goals of the Twinning Exchange


Ambassadors of Civil Society


Through the exchange, both organizations will be gaining competent and internationally experienced staff. The participants will become multipliers and ambassadors of participation concepts and more effective ways of getting involved in social, ecological and political developments in both regions.

Cross-regional EU-China Civil Society Networks


This exchange program will strengthen network building and alliances between Chinese and European organizations. The exchange fellows will be able to gain first-hand experience about the working environment and projects in the partner organization. They will also establish personal contact with the staff in the partner organization and thus will be able to support cooperation and partnerships.

Capacity Building


Chinese and European NGOs will get important insights into each others working methods – from the development of organizations, project design, public relations and best practices to general concepts of civil society development and public participation. They will be provided with important information on environmental and social topics in the respective country. The exchange program supports professionalization and internationalization and enables organizations from both regions to develop joint visions for a better future.

Information on Chinese Civil Society


With China’s growing international importance, a long list of global issues can not be tackled without the involvement of the world’s largest nation. From climate change, environmental protection, fair trade and production to sustainable tourism – European and Chinese civil society organizations have a lot of common working focuses, but European NGOs often lack access to information and know-how on engagement in Chinese civil society. The NGO exchange will enable the missing information on Chinese developments to channel directly into important multiplier organizations in Europe.

Better Mutual Understanding


European exchange participants will gain a better understanding of the chances and problems in China’s civil society. Chinese exchange fellows will obtain a better understanding of civil society structures in Europe, of the role and functions of non-profit organizations in the region. Participants from both regions may also develop new perspectives regarding their own country.

History of the Twinning Program


In 2013 Stiftung Asienhaus supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung launched the pilot program for the Twinning exchange.

In 2015 Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator agreed to combine their existing exchange programs into a joint inititative.

The initiative now comprises the Stiftung Asienhaus “EU-China NGO Twinning Program” which is funded by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator’s “China-EU NGO Exchange Program on Climate Change and Low Carbon Development”, run in cooperation with the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-E) and the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO).

So far, more than 80 organizations from 15 countries have had the opportunity to take part in the Twinning program and be part of an ever-growing interregional civil society network.