BEIJING (February 14, 2006) -- China's leading environmental law organization is launching a new collaboration with one of America's most effective and respected non-profit environmental groups that will strengthen China's legal mechanisms for environmental protection and broaden public participation in crucial public decision-making.

Under an agreement signed by the Beijing-based Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV) and the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council, the two groups will host environmental litigation training workshops for Chinese judges, lawyers and government officials; educate the public about domestic and international experience in environmental protection; and convene international forums on a range of legal and public participation issues.

For more than a decade, NRDC has been working at the national level with key Chinese agencies and organizations, as well as their local counterparts in several regions and cities, including Beijing, Chongqing, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shanxi and Shenzhen.

Since 1998, CLAPV has taken on more than 70 environmental cases -- winning or obtaining favorable settlement in nearly half of them -- and assisted tens of thousands of people across the country.

"China is attempting to rapidly build a legal structure capable of handling myriad serious environmental problems. It is not unlike what the United States went through 35 years ago, but it's happening much faster and on a vastly larger scale," said Alex Wang, director of NRDC's China Environmental Law and Public Participation Project. "We are excited to work with CLAPV, one of the most effective environmental groups in China today. CLAPV's work has resulted in a string of legal victories for people harmed by pollution, and the group is a leader in environmental law reform in China."

"Improved legal channels for resolving environmental disputes and better public participation are crucial to avoiding the unrest that has been caused by pollution and other environmental problems around China in recent years," said Wang Canfa, director of CLAPV and a law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law. "We look forward to working with NRDC to develop effective solutions to China's environmental issues."

NRDC and CLAPV started working together late last year, even before entering into a formal collaboration. In December, the organizations collaborated on expert comments to China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) on a draft SEPA policy on public participation in environmental impact assessments. The organizations both recommended that the agency toughen legal penalties for noncompliance and allow for more public input earlier in the process. (For a copy of NRDC's comments on these draft measures (English and Chinese versions) go to