Chinese Environmental NGOs Coordinate to Hone Advocacy Strategies

October 2011

From September 22–23, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the China Association for Non-Governmental Organization Cooperation (CANGO) convened a coalition of grassroots environmental NGOs in Beijing to discuss various policy advocacy strategies to promote environmental health. More than 25 environmental NGO representatives from several parts of the country, including Anhui, Henan, Yunnan, Hebei, Sichuan, Hubei, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu provinces, were in attendance.

The workshop—the final of three—was the culmination of a two-year initiative supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to foster a locus of learning and strategic planning for NGOs advocating good environmental policy. The workshop featured substantive presentations by experts and interactive discussions among participants.

Huang Haoming, CANGO executive director, opened the workshop by emphasizing the importance of grassroots organizations’ role in contributing solutions and advocating for the needs of an ever-changing society in China. This sentiment was echoed during the presentations of four environmental health policy advocacy pilot projects. Huo Daishan, director of the NGO Huaihe Guardian, said that in Anhui and Henan provinces his organization has worked to provide safe drinking water to villages by the Huaihe River. His organization worked to develop a water filtration system as a sustainable alternative to drilling deep water wells, involving the local government to monitor the trial of the filtration systems. Based on the pilot project, Huaihe Guardian developed a comprehensive plan, which will be implemented in cooperation with local governments and will impact up to 25 villages.

The second day of the workshop focused on building capacity in policy advocacy and highlighted the need to develop effective promotional materials and strengthen media outreach. Select participants engaged in mock television interviews conducted by a producer from China Central Television News. Promotional materials submitted by the participating NGOs were also evaluated by a Chinese communications expert. Participants said that their organizations must work harder to refine their messages and materials, and to foster good relationships with local media outlets.

As community groups across China strive to rectify the serious degradation of water quality by advocating for clean rivers and watersheds and for better access to clean water, the participating NGOs pledged to work together to address environmental pollution more effectively.

To learn more about our work in China, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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