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Promoting a Green Voice in China: New Initiatives for Environmental Public Participation

Chinese delegation visits the Woodrow Wilson Center.

June 20, 2007 2:30pm to 4:30pm

The group of ten—which includes seven officials from city and provincial environmental protection bureaus, a lawyer, a judge, and an NGO activist—is coming to learn about how “public participation” is implemented in U.S. environmental programs. A full blurb on this ABA-Asia project is below along with a list of the delegation members. Two members of the delegation will give a talk about their work promoting “green” public participation and the other eight will be open to taking questions from the audience about their work.

Delegation Members:
Mr. Sun Zhenshi, SEPA Environmental Monitoring Bureau
Mr. Guo Qing, SEPA Environmental Monitoring Center in East China
Ms. Wang Song, Shenyang EPB, Policy and Regulation Division
Ms. Sun Xiaomei, Shenyang EPB, Personnel Supervision Division
Mr. Peng Bin, Guizhou Provincial EPB, Center for Education and Communications
Mr. Tang Shaohua, Wuhan EPB, Pollution Control Division
Mr. Qi Yuehan, Xi’an EPB, Regulation, Education and Communications Division
Mr. Wu Dengming, The Green Volunteer League of Chongqing (NGO)
Mr. Xia Jun, Beijing Zhongzi Law Firm, Environment Resource Department
Judge Guan Li, Supreme People’s Court, First Court of Civil Trial

Exchange Project to Increase Citizen Participation, Accountability and Transparency in Environmental Decision-Making in China

In 2002, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) and the Asia Law Initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA-Asia) began to work cooperatively to implement an environmental governance training program in various cities in China. The objective of the program is to train local environmental authorities and public representatives in concepts of environmental law and governance, including Western and Chinese frameworks for environmental protection, public participation, information transparency and open government. Following these trainings, ABA-Asia has worked with Chinese partners to implement a series of pilot programs that highlight various “tools” for enforcing Chinese environmental law.

As a continuation of the environmental governance project, working with State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) of China, ABA now supports ten Chinese officials from SEPA, provincial and city environmental protection bureaus (EPBs), and other sectors to observe public participation at Environmental Protection Agencies in the US federal and state governments, as well as environmental NGOs, this summer, from June 23 to July 22, 2007. This exchange project is designed to show the Chinese officials about "public participation" as it is implemented in U.S. environmental programs: outreach and public education on environmental impact, public hearings on environmental licensing decisions, and 'notice and comment' opportunities for public written comment on proposed environmental regulations. While the Chinese participants in the program have already heard descriptions of how these programs are done, the on-site experience will enable them to observe the day-to-day implementation, attitudes, challenges and tools with their own eyes. Two Chinese exchange participants will be placed in each host institution: EPA Region 9 in San Francisco; Sierra Club in San Francisco, California EPA in Sacramento and Oakland, EPA Region 5 in Chicago, and NRDC in Washington, DC and NY.

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