Ma Jun - Pioneer Of Environmental Activism In China 
Ma Jun - Pioneer Of Environmental Activism In China
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Ma Jun – Pioneer Of Environmental Activism In China

2 mins read

Fifty three year old Ma Jun is considered as Father of Environmental Activism in China. Born in Beijing, Ma Jun was educated in Yale University, USA. After experiencing tremendous economic growth, China has been under serious criticism for serious problems with the environmental quality of its air, land and water. More than 300 million people have no access to safe drinking water, while more than half of the country’s urban residents face daily exposure to badly polluted air.

Ma Jun observed this pathetic condition of his nation after his return from the US. Most of the multinational companies operating in China promise clean production, transparency & accountability. But most of them fall short on these claims. In 2008, the Chinese Government passed a series of regulations granting the public the right to access certain types of environmental information. It ordered the local environmental protection bureaus to release data about polluters relating to national standards. However enforcement was weak and the disclosure was piecemeal, making it difficult for the people to access such information. Media coverage of environmental problems was thin and environmental activists were few.

While working at the South China Morning Post in the 1990s, Ma Jun(MJ) had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout China. He witnessed the environmental pollution, eco-degradation and suffering of people in various fields. He began research into water challenges and his book, ’China’s Water Crisis ‘ became a clarion call for environmental protection. Realising that access to information was a prerequisite for public participation in pollution control, MJ founded the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) where he organised the monitoring & enforcement data for the Chinese Government to make it available for the public through online air & water pollution maps.

To date MJ and his team at IPE have exposed over 9000 air & water violations by local & multinational companies operating in China. Chinese citizens, for the first time in history, have at their fingertips information that reveals which companies are violating environmental regulations across China’s 31 provinces and with it the power to demand justice. Through its Green Choice Supply Chain Programme which has 41 NGO participants. IPE has encouraged consumers to use their buying power to influence corporate sourcing & manufacturing behaviour.

Although IPE has no regulatory authority within the Government, under MJ’s leadership, the organisation has succeeded in getting more than 500 companies to disclose to the public their plan and efforts to clean up their facilities. M J is now working collaboratively with major brands such as Walmart, Nike, GE, Coca Cola, Siemens, Vodafone, H&M, Adidas, Sony, Lenovo & more. All of which give regular information to the public and self- regulate. MJ’s ecological fight has been recognised all over the world. In 2006 he was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was recently awarded the coveted Goldman Environmental Prize. He is an icon for the youth and has become an example for many to fight against environmental degradation.

Govind Tekale

A retired teacher at Sainik School Kazhakootam, besides his lifelong reading passion he is now an avid writer.

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