Environmental Health Governance in China: Addressing the Health Risks from Heavy Metal Pollution in the World's Factory

November 18, 2009 // 8:00am10:00am

Alex Wang, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Joan Hu, NRDC
ZHAO Yuechao, Bureau of Health Supervision Chinese Ministry of Health
LV Zhongmei, Hubei University of Economics

In a year in which China has gotten significant attention for its forays into renewable energy, energy efficiency and other green technologies, the nation has also faced a rash of pollution incidents that have resulted in serious heavy metal poisoning of local communities, shuttered factories, and caused public unrest in every corner of the country. Currently, China's State Council and the Ministry of Environmental Protection are putting the finishing touches on a new heavy metal pollution work plan for China and inspectors are descending on the countryside to investigate major polluters.

The question that looms large is whether a nation of China's size and complexity can find a way to effectively address its pollution problems and protect the health of its people while continuing to enjoy the economic growth that has come from being the factory of the world.

In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund—established an environmental health research initiative to bring together Chinese stakeholders from the legal, policy, research, and nongovernmental sectors to explore how China can better strengthen the policy and governance structures needed to protect human health from heavy metal pollution. The research group examined opportunities for improving risk assessment, monitoring and environmental regulation around industries that produce heavy metal pollution in southern China.

Speakers at this November 18th CEF meeting will present initial results from this study and discuss the latest developments in environmental health governance in China. Alex Wang and Joan Hu from NRDC will provide an overview of the project. Mr. ZHAO Yuechao from the Bureau of Health Supervision of China's Ministry of Health will talk about China's National Environmental Health Action Plan and the latest efforts to address China's environmental health challenges. Professor LV Zhongmei, dean of Hubei University of Economics and one of China's leading environmental law scholars, will discuss the legal reforms necessary to effectively handle heavy metal pollution in China.

Location: 5th Floor Conference Room

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