Public participation in environmental decision-making in China

With the increasing awareness of environmental protection, public participation become an essential process in environmental assessment and decision-making. In terms of the degree of public participation, Arnstein’s(1969) ladder of participation provides an appropriate reference [3].

Arnstein Ladder
According to this, I will discuss some background of this topic in China. The legal requirements for transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making are often ignored. Since the adoption of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Law, and seven years since the Ministry of Environmental Protection issued its implementing regulations, but many in China still fell the process is opaque [1]. In the Environmental Protection Law(2014), public participation has become a basic principle of Chinese environmental protection, and all citizens also has recognized that it should be their basic right [2]. Environmental protection is being one of the most promising areas for the development of public participation in China because environmental issues often relate closely to our daily life, citizens are highly motivated to express opinions and make appeals so as to protect and ensure their high quality of life. In the future, it is expected that public voices and comments can be heard in the decision-process and do some material function which can help decision-maker to make good decisions. Moreover, Lang provides an interesting study about the ecosystem approach as the guidance for evaluating Chinese law and practice in the field of public participation in environmental decision-making.


[1] William, J 2013, ‘The history of US environmental legislation may offer useful lessons for China’s evolving environmental laws’, accessed 8 August 2016,
[2] Lang, H 2014, ‘Public participation in environmental decision-making in China: Towards an ecosystem approach’, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Groningen, [S.l.].
[3] Arnstein, S. (1969) The Ladder of Citizen Participation, Journal of the Institute of American Planners, Volume. 35(4), pp. 216-24 .


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