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China Grants Environmental Law Institute Temporary Registration to Enhance the Environmental Law System in China

December 2017

(Washington, DC): The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is pleased to announce that it received approvals from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and Beijing Bureau of Public Security to begin work on its project to build the capacity of Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) to more fully engage in the environmental litigation process in China – a project supported by the Hewlett Foundation and the Tilia Fund. ELI will work together with its local partner China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF) on this project. CEPF played an instrumental role in communicating with the Chinese government and securing these approvals.

Reflecting ELI’s strong reputation in effectuating effective environmental governance and rule of law around the world, ELI is the first foreign NGO to receive temporary registration for an environmental protection related project from the MEP under China’s Law on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland China (Foreign NGO Law).

China’s recent reforms to its Environmental Protection Law establish important new authorities for the government and the public alike. However, the success of these environmental protection systems relies on a multifaceted system of accountability, with both the government and civil society playing key roles.  This 2015 law authorized civil society groups to use public interest litigation as an important additional accountability tool to reinforce other aspects of the law that, among other things, substantially increased the scope of and reliance on governmental enforcement authorities and facilitated a greater role for the judiciary in terms of issuing penalties and enforcing legal requirements. 

This project, which is a partnership with the CEPF, builds the capacity of public interest groups in China to file and win environmental cases, ensuring accountability and improvements in environmental quality.

MEP approved ELI’s application on November 9, 2017. The Beijing Bureau of Public Security formalized the approval on November 30, 2017, the final procedural step for ELI to begin this element of its work in China. 

ELI expects to receive additional temporary registrations with other China-based partners, bringing to bear ELI’s historic expertise in improving environmental enforcement across the globe.  This project further expands ELI’s existing work with governmental agencies in China that first began in 1995 focused on permitting, environmental clean-ups and restoration.