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Public participation in environmental decision-making in China

Towards an ecosystem approach
PhD ceremony:Ms H. (Huanlin) Lang
When:November 13, 2014
Supervisors:prof. mr. dr. J.H. (Jan) Jans, prof. mr. dr. K.J. (Kars) de Graaf
Where:Academy building RUG
Public participation in environmental decision-making in China

In the Environmental Protection Law (2014), public participation has become a basic principle of Chinese environmental protection, and its status as a basic right of all citizens has also been recognised. Such a change indicates that public participation will only continue to develop further in the future, though leaving open the question as to how this development should best be pursued. Under such circumstances, this study advocates the ecosystem approach as a guiding concept for the further development of public participation in China’s environmental decision-making (EDM) and intends to examine to what extent does Chinese law and practice fulfil the requirements of the ecosystem approach regarding public participation in EDM. To fulfill this objective, this study firstly proposes a normative framework for public participation in EDM based on the requirements of the ecosystem approach and the relevant legal content in international law, and then conducts an evaluation of Chinese current legislative content and the legal practice with regards to public participation in EDM in relation to the normative framework. The study concludes that Chinese law and practice cannot fully fulfill the requirements of the ecosystem approach. Specifically, practical guidance provided on the implementation of sustainable development is lack; local people and communities have not been paid enough attention and have not been able to play their role to its full potential; the requirement to scope an adaptive management range and management focuses has not been incorporated; and, a comprehensive information mechanism has not yet been established.