China is home to some of the most polluted rivers and lakes in the world. Through stricter water pollution control laws and new targets in the 12th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government has intensified pressure on cities and industries to curb water pollution and wastage. Enforcement of such top-down initiatives remains challenging, but the Chinese environmental NGO community has been pursuing a broader range of tactics to improve water protection efforts—ranging from increasing transparency and information disclosure and conducting third party audits, to public interest law cases and public education campaigns. Some international NGOs are starting to focus on water in green supply chain initiatives, which create incentives for Chinese industries to limit water pollution and waste.

At this March 20th CEF meeting, Kristen McDonald from Pacific Environment will introduce the diverse and increasingly effective strategies being used by Chinese NGOs in to protect water and communities from pollution. For over a decade, Pacific Environment has been working with community-based, nongovernmental organizations across China to address environmental challenges, particularly around water pollution. Kirsten will have just returned from visiting NGOs in Gansu Province and the cities of Dalian and Beijing, so she will bring fresh insights from the field (as well as photos) to share on water NGO activities.

To relate an effective model of how to engage Chinese industries to protect water, Susan Keane will discuss NRDC’s innovative Clean by Design program, which is designed to use the buying power of multinational apparel retailers and brands as a lever to reduce the environmental impacts of their suppliers abroad. From the design board to the tumble dryer, textile manufacturing in China has a huge environmental footprint. It pollutes as much as 200 tons of water per ton of fabric, uses a suite of harmful chemicals, and consumes tremendous amounts of energy for steam and hot water needed in dyeing and finishing processes. But by improving the efficiency in the manufacturing processes, there are plenty of opportunities to both save money and improve the environment. Clean by Design promotes just these kinds of win-win opportunities. NRDC has been promoting a set of 10 practical, easy-to-implement best practices for textile mills that will significantly reduce water, energy or chemical use and improve manufacturing efficiency. Multinational apparel retailers and brands can reduce the footprint of their global supply chain by encouraging mills to adopt these best practices and rewarding those that do so with more business. For more information on the Clean by Design Program, please see  and then click on “watch our video” at the top right hand side of the page.