Photo by Gabriel Diamond, courtesy of the Skoll Foundation.
Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs
Realizing that pubic participation was the missing link in China’s environmental governance processes, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), led by Ma Jun, began collecting and analyzing public government data on industrial pollution and launched the China Pollution Map Database in 2006. Since then, its database has greatly expanded to become powerful evidence for public, media, NGOs, businesses, and government agencies to use to promote environmental protection. IPE works with the Green Choice Alliance, a coalition of environmental NGOs across China, which investigates corporate compliance with environmental regulations in different industries, including consumer electronics and textiles. By the end of 2014, the database documented 180,000 violations, covering approximately 100,000 enterprises, and is used by corporate brands to screen the segments of their supply chains.
In addition to its pollution database, IPE has helped cities and factories monitor their own activities. In 2013 IPE partnered with the SEE Foundation, the China Urban Realty Association, and 23 other organizations to launch the Total Transparency Initiative, which calls for real-time publication of data from key polluting enterprises. In response to recommendations from the Initiative, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection announced formal methods for state enterprises to self-monitor and disclose pollution data. Since 2013, at least 16 provinces and municipalities have established information disclosure systems. In collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, IPE began two nationwide rankings: the Pollution Information Transparency Index, which evaluates and ranks cities on its level of environmental information disclosure, and the Corporate Information Transparency Index, which measures multinational brands’ performance in managing the environmental impacts of their supply chains across eight industries in China.
To help the public more easily access real-time data on pollution, IPE developed a mobile phone application with air and water quality information for different cities, as well as data on the sources of local pollution, released in real-time, by local environmental protection bureaus. With this app, local volunteers and NGOs have been able to identify polluters and track their emission discharges. The app was also featured in Under the Dome, a documentary about China’s air pollution problems, which brought many new users to the app with its viral popularity.
Our online database includes grants made by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund over the past five years.