On November 21, 2010, China University for Political Sciences and Law’s Environment and Natural Resources Research and Service Center organized the 19th "Symposium on the public availability of environmental information."
They invited a number of citizens, environmental groups, environmental officials and individuals involved in civil society environmental protection groups to the symposium, where they would analyze and discuss the results from the environmental information openness survey launched in July.
The "Decree of government information openness" and the "Measures for the openness of environmental information" have already been in effect for over two years in China.
The primary goals of the symposium were to understand the lack of openness surrounding environmental information, to promote the opening up of environmental protection bureau information and industry information, and to strengthen the ability of civil society groups to exercise their right to be informed.
The program had four parts: 1. Provide local officials and civil society groups with the environmental information openness survey. 2. Cooperate with environmental protection groups in each locality to launch the survey. 3. Hold the symposium. 4. Publish a book on environmental information openness in China.
For two days, from May 7 - 8, the China University for Political Sciences and Laws Environmental and Natural Resources Research and Service Center held a training seminar in Beijing Xiangshan on the openness of environmental information. In total, they trained 47 individuals from civil society environmental protection groups and environmental protection officials. Upon conclusion of the training seminar, they immediately began work on the environmental information openness survey. Those who participated in the training also actively participated in the surveying activities. The groups that carried out the survey included: Gansu Green volunteers, Green Beijing, Chongqing environmental protection Youth Association, Green Hebei, Yunnan Zhaotong Association for the protection of the environment and natural resources, Xinxiang Association of Environmental Protection Volunteers, and Shanghai Friends of the Environment Group. The environmental openness survey began in July and concluded in September. The survey targeted local environmental protection bureaus and large-scale industry.
After completing the survey, the environment and natural resources research and service center completed a report on the survey findings and organized the symposium to discuss those findings. In brief, the report showed that the current state of our countrys environmental information openness has the following characteristics and problems: 1. Both the concept of open government information and its actual openness have improved. 2. Information on environmental emissions is the hardest to acquire. 3. Information is not sufficiently complete or timely. Responses often come after the time limit. 4. Industry information is seriously lacking. 5. Information from the environmental protection bureau also doesn’t meet demands.
According to the survey results, in order to promote the gradual improvement of environmental information openness in this country, not only do environmental protection bureaus need to improve their position, but environmental protection groups in each locality must also actively apply for information and promote the implementation of laws and regulations on the subject. Open and transparent environmental information is an important prerequisite for officials and industries abiding by environmental laws and carrying out their legal duties.