As China makes its ascent in the global economy and politics, it is increasingly faced with significant challenges posed by environmental and ecological degradation such as air pollution (or smog) in northern parts of China during winter, water pollution and shortages, loss of wildlife and habitat, land degradation, and desertification. Given these daunting challenges, how can concerned citizens and civic organisations contribute to the tasks of fighting environmental and ecological degradation in China?
This is where the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) comes in. The Stanford Business School’s case archive describes IPE as “a small non-profit organization with an outsized mission,” for it aims at solving China’s enormous pollution problems once and for all. Founded and led by prominent Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun, this Beijing-based organisation is a catalyst in facilitating the public’s access and monitoring of environmental information, strengthening environmental law enforcement, and advocating green practices by manufacturers, traders, financial institutions and individual consumers.
In this talk, Ma Jun will explain how his organisation uses innovative methods and the power of information to transform environmental practices among China’s state agencies, businesses and the public. IPE aspires to establish “green production chains” in China to treat environmental problems in a holistic way. Its professional and committed team members create and operate interactive and real-time online databases of air and water violations by factories throughout China (the “blue map”), which are accessible to activists, law enforcement agencies and concerned citizens.
About the Speaker:
Ma Jun is a Chinese environmentalist, environmental analyst, non-fiction writer, and journalist. He is the founding director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) based in Beijing, which focuses on public access to pollution data and other environmental governance issues in China.
From 1993 to 2000, while working at the South China Morning Post, Ma Jun specialized in environmental subjects. In 1999, he wrote an important book, Water Crisis in China (中国水危机), which was the first non-academic book since 1949 to deal comprehensively with water problems. Ma Jun went on to become the Chief Representative of SCMP.com in Beijing.
After SCMP, Ma first served as an environmental consultant for Sinosphere Corporation until he became a Humphrey Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2005. After Yale, he returned to Beijing and China’s rising movement against large dam construction, and soon founded the IPE, which has developed the first online, publicly accessible, and most reliable China Water Pollution Map (中国水污染地图) and Air Pollution Map. Since then, tens of grassroots NGOs and hundreds of volunteers have joined IPE and built up a national network for public pollution monitoring and data processing. Millions of Chinese citizens can now access instant and accurate data related to water and air pollution via IPE and its partners’ websites.
Ma and his team’s work have been widely acknowledged inside and outside China. Many Chinese governmental agencies have sought collaboration with IPE to work on solving pollution problems. Ma was named as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world by Time magazine in May 2006. His leading role in the Tiger Leap Gorge anti-dam movement was documented in the film Waking the Green Tiger released in 2011. In 2012, Ma received the Goldman Environmental Prize. In 2015, he became the first Chinese social entrepreneur who received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.