Civil Society Organisations make further breakthrough in environment rights protection
Following some major breakthroughs in the promotion of environmental rights, a joint press briefing was organised by the UNDP and the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) on 10 February 2012, in Beijing. The main purpose of the event was to launch a new "Guide Handbook for the Maintenance of Environment Rights" to help people learn about, and ultimately protect their right to a clean environment. It comes following the first successful lawsuit won by an Environmental Civil Society Organisation – the ACEF – for failure to disclose information requested from the local government. This progress has come as China seeks to overturn substantial environmental degradation and draw on public support in enforcing new environmental laws, for which it has also looked to increasing support from UNDP in the construction of a public-interest litigation system.
The briefing was attended by UNDP Deputy Country Director, Mr. Napoleon Navarro, who spoke of the joint efforts being made by UNDP and the ACEF to support fishermen in Hebei, as they seek compensation following the oil spill in Bohai Bay. Though the case is still being heard, this broad partnership falls under a project entitled Protecting the Environmental Rights and Justice of the Public, and is set to see compensation of more than 490 million yuan awarded to 107 fishermen, if the court rules in favour of their argument that their livelihoods have been sufficiently affected by this disaster. Having drawn attention to the significant value that Civil Society Organisations can play in protecting environmental rights and public interests, Mr. Navarro spoke of his desire to use these achievements as a platform for building a more environmentally-friendly future.
"Above all, protecting environmental rights will require the consensus of all of China's 1.3 billion people," Navarro said. "Therefore, let us celebrate our success, but let us also make sure that we also use them as motivators in pursuit of the future we all want to see."