As China’s air pollution continues to worsen, the “Measures for Public Participation in Environmental Protection (Provisional)” (Opinion-soliciting Draft), released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on April 13, has become a center of public attention. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the draft was put forward to implement the provisions of the revised “Environmental Protection Law” special chapter on information disclosure and public participation, and to advance the orderly development of public participation.
The draft is the first comprehensive document on public participation released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. It emphasizes the role of environmental departments in environmental protection activities, and places great importance on public hearings before making decisions. As to the scope of public participation, the draft indicates that the public can play a part in the following activities: the making and amending of related laws and regulations, environmental pollution investigations, environmental education campaigns, and other public interest activities in accordance with the current laws and regulations.
The draft also puts together a detailed list of the ways in which the public can participate in environmental protection, including setting up tip-off hotlines, monitoring pollution through email and social media, and hiring volunteers to be “environmental inspectors”. It also suggests that citizens who provide valuable tip-offs should be financially rewarded. In addition, the draft reaffirmed that qualified NGOs can bring environment cases to Chinese courts.