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US, Chinese NGOs work together
By Fu Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-02 21:34

Non-governmental organizations from China and the United States are expected to work closer together in dealing with environmental problems.

The China Association for NGO Co-operation and the US-based non-governmental environmental organization Environmental Defence agreed in Beijing yesterday to help strengthen Chinese NGOs in the next three years.

Environmental Defence Vice-President Marcia Aronoff said co-operation is likely to take place in the fields of climate change, ocean pollution, biodiversity and environmental protection and health.

"We have gathered some experience in these areas and we want to share them with Chinese NGOs," said Aronoff, adding that more than 400,000 members have been involved in her organization since it was established in 1967.

Daniel Dudek, the organization's chief economist, said work in China will be one of Environmental Defence's priorities over the next five years.

"We are going to work with NGOs and help them get involved in environmental policy-making," said Dudek.

Zhang Jianyu, a visiting scholar with Tsinghua University, said capacity building is necessary for China's civil society to participate in the policy-making process.

"China's laws already allow opportunities for NGOs to express their views, but they really need to improve their awareness," said Zhang.

Zhang based his assertion on Chinese NGOs' failure to take part in public hearing organized by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in August.

With a notice running on its official website for days, SEPA had been seeking comments on its draft rule on emission permission licence management. Four individuals and 12 companies took part, and NGOs were noticeable by their total absence.

"This example shows that we have a lot of work to do," said Zhang, who also heads Environmental Defence's Beijing office.

Huang Haoming, executive director of CANGO, Environmental Defence's Chinese partner, said Chinese NGOs are active in environmental protection and will certainly be strengthened by international co-operation.

Huang said since his association was founded in 1987, about 60 foreign NGOs have set up close ties with his 100-member organization.

"The agreement we signed is a sign that addressing environmental problems is not the duty of governments and international organizations, but also a responsibility NGOs should bear jointly," said Huang.

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