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Protecting the Environmental Rights and Justice of the Public


    Protecting the Environmental Rights and Justice of the Public

    A UNDEF project on protecting the environmental rights and justice of the public is being implemented in China with UNDP as the Executing Agency and All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF) as the Implementing Agency. The project implementation started on 1 January 2011 and will complete on 31 December 2012.

    The objectives of the project are: to raise environmental awareness of the public; to promote policy change and gain support for establishing an environmental public interest litigation (EPIL) system; and to protect the rights of the public to a clean environment as an important part of human rights, and to contribute to the democratization process in China.

    The project implementation is going on smoothly as planned. Under the project, a series of publicity and education activities to raise the public’s awareness on environmental rights and justice have been carried out, including: a survey conducted on the public’s opinions and needs on the protection of their environmental rights; exhibitions organized and consulting services provided to the public in a public square and 2 universities; and 11000 copies of books and pamphlets on environmental law, and protection of the public’s environmental rights distributed.

    Activities on promoting the policy change in the establishment of the environmental public interest litigation system have also been carried out, including: a seminar entitled Environmental Tribunal and Environmental Public Litigation: Status Quo, Problems and Solution; a seminar on the revision of the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China; a training on public participation and protection of the public’s environmental rights; and a workshop on civil litigation and EPIL. Besides on the basis of the discussions of the above-mentioned seminars, ACEF developed a proposal on the establishment of the environmental public interest litigation system in China, which was submitted to the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference through two deputies to NPC and CPPCC respectively during their sessions in March 2011.



    Protecting the Environmental Rights and Justice

    of the Victims of Water Pollution

    — A Case under UNDEF Project


    Under the UNDEF project of Protecting the Environmental Rights and Justice of the Public, legal aid has been provided to the victims of dozens of environmental pollution cases. The following is one of these cases. 

    For years, the Synthetic Textile Industrial Base in Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province directly discharged its waste water into Boyang Lake without treatment, which severely affected the water quality of the Lake, and health of the local people. Upon receipt of public complaints, the Project Team from ACEF’s Legal Service Center paid 4 field visits to the pollution site for investigation and sampling. The analysis of the samples showed that all measurements were above the standards, in which COD exceeded the standard by 18.9 times and BOD by 27.5 times. On 7 April 2011, the Project Team, working together with CCTV reporters, investigated the Boyang Lake pollution caused by the Synthetic Textile Industrial Base in Jiujiang City. Between 7-8 April, CCTV News channel presented in-depth reports on this case, which attracted great attention of the Jiangxi Provincial Government. At present, all plants in the Synthetic Textile Industrial Base in Jiujiang City have been shut down for correction and renovation. Lushan District People’s Government of Jiujiang City removed Zhang Changhua from his position of Deputy Director of Lushan District Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB), Lushan District EPB terminated the position of Zhong Sheng, former Head of Environment Supervision Team under it, and the Board of Directors of Jiujiang Jinyuan Synthetic Textile Co., Ltd. held a meeting and decided to terminate the position of Ms. Han Yanyong, former Vice President of the corporation in charge of environmental protection. 

    In order to protect the water system of Boyang Lake and the environmental rights and interests of the public, ACEF has lodged an environmental public interest lawsuit to Wuhan Maritime Court, and will follow up to the case to ensure its full solution.


      Pictures taken at the pollution site by the project team


    First Case of Environmental Public-interest Litigation in China Won by a Civil Society Organization


    This is an activity under the UNDEF project on protecting the environmental rights and justice of the public.


    The environmental public interest lawsuit against Dingpa Paper Mill in Wudang District, Guiyang City, Guizhou Province which had polluted the environnment was trialed by Qingzhen City People’s Environmental Tribunal  with ACEF as the plaintiff in January 2011.  After the hearing procedure, the tribunal announced its verdict, which supported all of ACEF’s litigation claims. Dingpa Paper Mill was shut down. It is the first PIL won by a CSO.


    The case was based on a complaint from the residents in Wudang District, Guiyang City in October 2010. ACEF then sent its staff members to the site and made investigations. They found that what the local residents said was true.  That is, though according to environmental requirements, According to the requirement of environmental protection, Dingpa Paper Mill should be an enterprise with zero emission of waste water. However, it had illegally discharged waste water to Nanming River in Guiyang City via natural caves over 8 years, causing serious pollution in the river.  Though the local environmental protection authority had imposed several administrative penalties on the mill, it continued its illegal discharge of waste water.


    In order to protect the public environmental interests in Nanming River and its downstream Wu River, and to promote the development of Guiyang as an environment-friendly city, ACEF filed an environmental public interest lawsuit to Qingzhen City People’s Court in Guizhou Province on November 19th, 2010, requesting the court to make a verdict to stop immediately Dingpa Paper Mill from discharging waste water to the river, so as to eliminate the threat of illegal waste water discharge to Nanming River and Wu River.  The court accepted the case on the same day. 


    The victory of the case triggered strong reaction in the local community.  All enterprises involved in water pollution in Wudang District suspended their production for renovation and correction. The pollution hazards are eliminated and the water quality in Nanming River has been substantially improved.


    (This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)