(KTSF by Jessie Liang)
San Francisco, CA – The 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony took place tonight in San Francisco. China winner Ma Jun is one of six recipients.
The Goldman Prize is the largest award in the world for grass-root environmentalists. There are six prize recipients each year.
Ma Jun was born in Beijing, China. He was a journalist in the 1990′s and had the opportunity to travel extensively in the country. He witnessed that environmental pollution is a very critical problem in China. He began to focus on water issues, and his book “China’s Water Crisis” became a national call for environmental protection.
He founded the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), where he reveals the severe problems that China now is facing such as the environmental quality of its air, land and water through an online database. Ma says, “If we need people’s participation to enhance law enforcement, they have to get information first. That would help them to be more motivated.”
Ma exposed over 90,000 air and water violations by local and multinational companies operating in China. Because the government is very sensitive to disclose the data, his website was sometimes temporarily blocked. Ma says, “Some local governments also forced us to delete the data and records because they said that could affect their local business.”
Under Ma Jun’s leadership the organization has succeeded in getting more than 500 companies to disclose to the public their plan and efforts to clean up their facilities. The major brand companies include Wal-Mart, Nike, Coca Cola and Apple’s Chinese supply chain, particularly Foxconn factories.
Ma addresses that even though the Chinese government passed Environmental Protection Laws but the enforcement was weak. He says, “The government needs to enhance their law enforcement and accept environmental lawsuits but both are weak right now. Most companies would rather pay the fine than solve the problem.” Ma adds that empowering Chinese citizens to demand justice is the most important factor to enforce the law.
Compared with the 1990′s Ma says that Chinese citizens are more concerned about environmental issues as the economy develops rapidly. They have realized that’s vital for their lives and future generations. They hope pollution problems could be solved efficiently.
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