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Toxic substances discharged by industrial plants in China are a growing problem that goes far beyond the local level. The consequences of pollution often have a regional to global impact. In Arnika, we have long sought to use our experience and support partner NGOs in other countries, especially in those where civil society activities in this area are still developing.
Help for victims of toxic pollution
The aim of the project in China, in which we worked with the Chinese organization Green Beagle and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) in 2012-2014, was to strengthen the ability of victims of toxic pollution and NGOs to participate in individual cases, enter into decision-making processes, and work to increase chemical safety. The project created a network of Chinese NGOs and groups of citizens affected by industrial pollution, which began to exchange information and establish cooperation.
An important part of the project was also measuring the state of environmental pollution and publishing the results. The availability of information and pollution is an important prerequisite for the affected communities to be able to take appropriate action.
In the project, local civic associations dealt with 15 cases of pollution by waste, heavy metals, or persistent organic pollutants. The ten cases, which are notorious for the serious health problems of the people living in the area, are covered in detail by studies that look behind the curtains of individual cases and formulate recommendations and steps to remedy a situation that threatens the health of local people and the environment. Together with IPEN, we were mainly involved in cases doing expert assistance, especially with regard to the obligations arising from the ratification of international conventions and the interpretation of data.
With the participation of experts from Arnika and IPEN, 6 trainings were organized for representatives of civic associations and pollution victims on the enforcement and possibility of exercising the right to information and the EIA process in China. Among other things, the workshop participants learned how to take samples for chemical analysis or use portable devices to monitor environmental pollution. Seminars were also held for various key players - professional public, decision-makers, and civil society representatives including pollution victims in China. The seminars helped to initiate a dialogue between these groups leading to the solution of individual cases threatening the health of the affected communities and deepening their poverty.
Thanks to the project, a book (available only in Chinese) has been published, which provides civic associations with practical guidance on how to use the EIA process in local campaigns. We participated in the writing of a section devoted to European EIA and experience with its usage in Europe.