Inspiring Community Action

“My name is Ren Jiangang. I live in Tongling City and I want to report illegal pollution from an enterprise in Tongling Industrial Park.

This company has been polluting the surrounding natural environment and affecting the health of residents for years, but no agencies or departments have come forward to stop the violations or enforce penalties.

I am a disabled person. I am not afraid of retaliation by the polluters—I will struggle for the environment and the survival of our next generation.”

We empower people like Ren Jiangang to expose harm and seek justice. And we ensure communities have a say in the decisions that impact their lives and the environment—to avoid harm in the first place.

 
  • I think the first duty of society is justice.
    Alexander Hamilton
  • I studied chemistry and was ready to go to work for a big chemical manufacturing company, but Pacific Environment’s leaders inspired me to start a nonprofit to protect our rivers from chemical pollution.
    Zhou Xiang, Executive Director, Green Anhui, our partner China
 
  • Information helps people see what is going on and why. We help partners submit information disclosure requests to companies and governments so they can identify harmful activities, inform the public and push for action.
  • Local people should have a say in the creation of rules that affect their lives and the natural world. We join with communities to make sure governments and corporations comply with legal requirements to meaningfully involve community members in decision-making.
  • Justice means having a fair chance to be heard, regardless of who you are, where you live, or how much money you have. We give partners legal tools to join forces with communities to challenge harmful projects and seek redress for injustices in court.
  • Information
  • Participation
  • Justice
Just putting information into the public spotlight can build pressure on governments and regulators to address environmental threats.
Our partners verify environmental information through field investigations, satellite imagery, and citizen patrols that test water and air quality.
We educate communities about the benefits and dangers of specific projects and demonstrate how people can weigh in on legislative and policy processes through public comments and hearings.
Our partners are among the first grassroots groups in China to challenge polluters in court via public interest lawsuits.
 

Information

Without information, we are in the dark about the environmental threats to our health, livelihoods, cultural traditions and sacred places.

From pollution levels to planned projects, we help partners ensure that government information about the environment is easily accessible. If governments refuse to provide information, we help local leaders pressure officials to comply with open information laws.

Grassroots monitoring is key to ensuring that government and corporate information that is being released is truthful and complete. Even so, environmental information can be confusing to regular citizens. We help partners present data in a way that informs and inspires action.

Participation

Public participation is a win-win. When people participate in decisions that affect their lives, they are more likely to support new laws and regulations. At the same time, when governments listen to local communities, they make better decisions for people and the environment.

How this plays out in different communities varies greatly. Together with local leaders we identify the best ways to motivate people to get involved.

Sometimes this means that we help partners develop innovative ways to establish ongoing dialogue among citizens, companies and local governments to improve long-term decision-making. Other times, we bring different groups of people to the table to resolve specific grievances.

We also help ensure communities that need to be at the table are indeed at the table. And we empower communities to push local governments to cultivate participation and improve public engagement.

Justice

When we know about harms, but corporations and governments refuse to take action despite public pressure, then it’s time to go to court.

We help environmental groups and communities gain access to the courts to address injustices and destruction and hold developers and polluters accountable.

Our legal internship program has helped community groups across China prepare legal cases while offering environmental law students a chance to apply their knowledge to real-world cases.

Law students and local environmental groups also go out into local and especially rural and indigenous communities to inform people about environmental laws and their rights so they know how to protect and defend themselves.

 
  • We've protected endangered species by using lawsuits to force companies to stop illegal logging in protected areas across Siberia and the Russian Far East.
  • Partners in China have submitted over 2,000 information disclosure requests since 2008 and cleaned up hundreds of pollution incidents.
  • Based on the Aarhus Convention, we consider access to participation, justice and information to be the essential three pillars that foster community engagement in environmental decisions.
  • Our partners have successfully used litigation to force polluters to clean up, reroute pipelines, cancel mining projects and stop dams.