Public Participation in China's Environmental Management

China has been promoting environmental protection and is improving it’s environmental standards. This post explores existing, newly developing and future forms and channels of public participation in China’s environmental management.

Citizens all over China have been filing lawsuits, establishing petition movements and even turning to open demonstrations and boycotts in pursuit of a livable environment. Chinese environmental NGOs (ENGOs) have been monitoring construction projects, appraising related environmental and social effects and organizing protest activities. Moreover, the activities of green student groups are encouraging well-trained graduates to join established social organizations in the field of the environment, or to form their own networks and organizations. All of these aspects play a tremendous role in how the public is influencing China’s environmental management.

Certain consumer roles are important in order to further increase public participation in China’s environmental protection. In order to promote national protection of nature and biodiversity, nature reserves and protection zones should continue to be made. In addition, in order to increase local control of environmental pollution, more systems to report environmental problems and offenses to relevant authorities should be established. Citizens should also be further involved with hearings and testimonies if possible.

Chinese still have to learn better sustainable household practices, however. A balanced effort from various actors is needed to improve public participation in the greening of households. Consumers need to take more responsibility for their personal share in collective environmental attitudes of passivity and indifferences, particularly with waste management and domestic energy use. In addition, NGOs will have to play a more central role in environmental reform in China despite all the difficulties they face. More public participation will be key in promoting environmental protection and political liberalization is a must.

Chinese overall though, are becoming more aware of their behavior towards the environment. There is less littering in 2013 compared to what there was 10 years before, more waste management facilities, more cleaners on the streets, improved recycling methods, increased incentives for recycling and overall better participation from local citizens.

The government in China is looking to reduce hazards to the environment by implementing new plans, such as can be found in many of the nation’s 5-year plans. The media is also increasingly open about some of the environmental disasters taking place from China’s economic development in recent years and proposes solutions to some of the problems, such as switching to more green energy methods via promotion of various energy-saving devices.

China is not the first country to environmental hardships, as many countries have gone through the same while industrializing. Some citizens of China, however, are not aware of what it means to be environmentally friendly, as education for many was a rarity in the past. That is changing in China and as education spreads and more people go abroad either for travel or study to see what kinds of methods work, Chinese are likely to improve their environmental situation and become more involved with making management of resources and energy a higher priority in the years to come.

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