environmental organizations

environmental organizations
Environmental organizations here refer to non-governmental, non-profit and voluntary organizations devoted to environmental protection and sustainable development. Hundreds have been founded in the past eight years or so. They fall into five types. The first type register as ‘social organizations’ (shehui tuanti) or ‘private, non-profit work units’ (minban feiqiye danwei). Examples are Friends of Nature in Beijing and Green River in Sichuan. These are the closest to the Western understanding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The second type register as for-profit entities but operate as non-profit NGOs. This practice reflects a strategic adaptation to the regulatory framework in China, which put constraints on registering as NGOs. The Institute of Environment and Development and Global Village of Beijing, both based in Beijing, are prominent examples of this type of organization. The third type of environmental organizations consist of unregistered voluntary groups. Although often loosely organized and without full-time staff or permanent office space, these organizations consider themselves as NGOs and usually aspire to register as such. Some organizations of this type depend on the Internet for most activities, so much so that they may be called web-based groups. Examples are Greener Beijing (gbj.grchina.net), the Tibetan Antelope Information Centre (www.taic.org), Green-Web (www.green-web.org) and Han Hai Sha (www.desert.org.cn). University-based student environmental associations make up the fourth type of environmental organization.
As student associations, these may be set up on campus easily without having to follow the registration procedure required of ‘social organizations’. According to one survey, there were 184 such student environmental organizations in China as of April 2001. Among the best-known student environmental associations are the Scientific Exploration and Outdoor Life Society of Beijing Forestry University (SENOL) and the Sichuan University Environmental Volunteer Association. The fifth type of environmental organizations have been called government-organized non-governmental organizations (GONGOs), because they are established and funded by the government. Some GONGOs, however, are becoming more and more independent both financially and administratively and are evolving into NGOs.
The rise of environmental organizations was a phenomenon of the 1990s while many more continue to be created into the new century. Especially instrumental in environmental education and the mobilization of community efforts for environmental protection, these organizations tend to emphasize cooperative rather than confrontational relationships with government agencies and business sectors. Many, however, face the challenges of funding and professionalization. So far, international organizations have been a major source of funding for many.
Ho, Peter (2001). ‘Greening Without Conflict? Environmentalism, NGOs and Civil Society in China’. Development and Change 32.5:893–921.
Knup, Elizabeth (1997). ‘Environmental NGOs in China: An Overview’. China Environmental Series 1. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, 9–15.
Turner, Jennifer and Wu Fengshi (eds) (2002). Green NGO and Environmental Journalist Forum: A Meeting of Environmentalists in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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