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Offer: The State of Environmental Activism in China

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
5:30 pm Registration
6:00-7:30 pm Program followed by Reception
The Sierra Club
85 2nd St., Suite 750
San Francisco, CA

$5 Asia Society/Co-Sponsor Members
$5 Students; $10 Non-Members
To register, please call 415-421-8707 or visit

Co-Sponsors: China Dialogue, Give2Asia, Harvard Club of San Francisco, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club, UC Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies, USF Center for the Pacific Rim

Three decades of double-digit economic growth has come at staggering cost to China’s environment. China’s cities are among the most polluted in the world, the country faces a severe shortage of clean water, and desertification has claimed a quarter of its landmass. In response to these crises, environmental NGOs have exploded in number and activity, but much remains to be done.

Who are these NGOs, and what are their biggest concerns? What role does the government play in regulating, and sometimes suppressing, these organizations? How are NGOs managing the often-conflicting tasks of both policing and partnering with government and business, as well as educating the public? Is the recent government crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs like the Open Constitution Initiative the start of a longer-term trend, or is it part of the ebb and flow of government-NGO relations? What does the growth of environmental activism say about the state of China's civil society today? These are some of the questions our distinguished panel will address.

Wen Bo is Co-Director of Pacific Environment’s China Program and Coordinator of the Greengrants China Advisory Board. He has supported more than 40 environmental grassroots groups in China through grants, exchange programs, and workshops, and organized the first student environmental conference in China in 1995. He is a founder of the China Green Student Forum, which is now a network of more than 100 groups. Wen was an Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society, received a 2009 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, and was named a 2009 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2006, Time named him an “Eco Hero.”

Tori Zwisler is the founding Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute-Shanghai. The Institute focuses primarily on the Roots & Shoots program, which promotes environmental concern, care for animals, and care for people among Shanghai’s youth. Roots & Shoots works with 170 schools in Shanghai with the aim of planting one million trees in Inner Mongolia to fight desertification. It also works with offices to reduce carbon footprints, promotes poverty alleviation through education in Anhui province, works with migrant schools, and has helped coordinate the largest recycling program in Shanghai.

Thomas B. Gold (moderator) is Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, where, he has also served as Founding Director of the Berkeley China Initiative, and Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies. He is on the boards of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society Northern California, chinadialogue USA, and the East Bay College Fund, and formerly served on the board of Pacific Environment.


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