The State of Environmental Activism in China

The State of Environmental Activism in China

Three decades of double-digit economic growth in China has come at staggering cost to the environment. China's cities are among the most polluted in the world, the country faces a severe shortage of clean water, and desertification has claimed a quarter of its landmass. In response to these crises, environmental NGOs have exploded in number and activity in China, but much remains to be done. Who are these NGOs, and what are their biggest concerns? What role does the government play in regulating, and sometimes suppressing, these organizations? How are NGOs managing the often-conflicting tasks of both policing and collaborating with government and business, as well as educating the public? Is the recent government crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs like the Open Constitution Initiative the start of a longer-term trend, or is it part of the ebb and glow of government-NGO relations in China? What does the growth of environmental activism say about the state of China's civil society today? These are some of the questions our distinguished panel will address. Speakers: Wen Bo is Co-Director of Pacific Environment's China Program and Coordinator of the Greengrants China Advisory Board. He has supported more than 40 environmental grassroots groups in China through small grants, exchange programs, workshops and presentations, and organized the first student environmental conference in China in 1995. He is a founder of the China Green Student Forum, which is now a network of more than 100 student environmental groups. Wen was an Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society, received a 2009 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, and was named a 2009 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2006, Time named him an 'Eco Hero.' Tori Zwisler is the founding Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute-Shanghai. The Institute focuses primarily on the Roots & Shoots program, which promotes environmental concern, care for animals, and care for people among Shanghai's youth. Roots & Shoots works with 170 schools in Shanghai with the aim of planting one million trees in Inner Mongolia to fight desertification. It also works with offices to reduce carbon footprints, promotes poverty alleviation through education in Anhui province, works with migrant schools, and has helped coordinate the largest recycling program in Shanghai. Zwisler is a U.S. citizen and has been living in China for more than 20 years. Thomas B. Gold (moderator) is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, where, he has also served as Associate Dean of International and Areas Studies, Founding Director of the Berkeley China Initiative, and Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies. He is on the boards of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society Northern California, chinadialogue USA, and the East Bay College Fund, and formerly served on the board of Pacific Environment. Co-Sponsored by China Dialogue, Pacific Environment, and the Sierra Club

Event Details

20 October 2009
1:30pm - 4:00pm

The Sierra Club 85 2nd St., Suite 750 San Francisco

$5 Asia Society/Co-sponsor members, $5 students; $10 Non-members. Phone: 415-421-8707