During his discussion with Kerry Brown and Duncan Hewitt at the recently held Shanghai International Literary Festival, Paul French quoted British environmentalist Jonathon Porritt as saying that “the biggest problem with the environment in China is that nobody in China could care less about it”.
China’s environmental woes are well-documented and, despite attempts to convince the world otherwise, the country is still rarely seen as a leader on environmental protection. Having twenty of the world’s top thirty most polluted cities doesn’t help. Nor does backtracking on apparently progressive ideas such as the calculating of a green GDP. But does all this mean that ordinary Chinese folk don’t care about the environment?
Shanghaiist knows some people over at Roots & Shoots who would disagree with Porritt for starters, but in light of his comments we thought we’d share with you a couple of green links that caught our eye this week.
First up, in an interesting piece over on China Dialogue, Dan Murphy looks at the recruitment problems facing the country’s environmental NGOs. He explores the numerous social pressures that can prevent people from joining NGOs in China and argues that more effort should be made to break down some of the barriers to participation. Meanwhile, commenting on Murphy’s article, the Crossroads site succinctly summarises the chicken and egg conundrum facing NGOs in China:
Simply put, if an NGO cannot fundraise, then it cannot attract talent.. and if they cannot attract talent.. they will never be able to fundraise because establishing trust with funders, developing stable programs, and developing a scalable platform is nearly impossible without funding.
Of course, the government’s discomfort with large-scale volunteer member oganisations, regardless of their intentions, also remains an enormous hurdle for effective NGO work in the country.
Staying on the subject of China and the environment, a recent interview over on the Treehugger site, alerted us to a documentary project called The Green Dragon. The TH interview is with the founders of the project, which looks at the potential for green development in China by focusing on the construction industry. There is also an excellent website to accompany the film — providing extensive resources and information on China and the environment — which is well worth checking out.
Finally, you can find a database of Chinese environmental NGOs at greengo.cn, proving that despite the country’s numerous adverse effects on the environment, there are plenty of people here who are trying to do something about it and who really do care.