Published: April 12, 2019

Colloquium poster with Woman squatting by research equipment in rocky desert-like landscapeColloquium is co-sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies

40 years ago, upon announcing the “Reform and Opening-up” of China, the Communist Party called for “social forces” to “subsidize and fill gaps in state services”. This, combined with the dramatic environmental and public health implications of China’s rapid economic development, created a space in which Chinese Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) could thrive. These ENGOs have grown in number, size, and influence, and they have adopted strategies that have made them a unique bridge across multiple parts of society—between citizens and scientists, the government, and businesses—creating a number of external benefits beyond just the initial goal of environmental protection.  

This talk will focus first on the development of ENGOs in recent Chinese history, assessing their evolving strategies and the challenges they have faced. From this, the relationships ENGOs have developed with citizens, scientists, government, and businesses will be discussed, with a number of case studies giving light to specific examples of how Chinese ENGOs are staying at the forefront of bridging these societal actors. Finally, I will look at the current and future challenges that face ENGOs, again utilizing these case studies to provide specific examples of the regulatory issues, technological strategies, and partnerships they are forming.

Lyssa Freese
PhD Student in Atmospheric Science
Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology