Green Earth Volunteers (GEV) is one of the oldest environmental NGOs in China. It was founded in 1996 by Ms. Wang Yongchen, a senior journalist of China National Radio. The founding of GEV stems from the concern of journalists and environmental scientists with environmental issues and the sense of responsibility, and these people are the primary members of GEV. GEV has initiated many milestone activities in the history of Chinese environmental protection: tree adoption, environmental journalist salons, Nu River protection, Southwest River Decade Journey, Yellow River Decade Journey, Eco-water Tour, Bird Watch in Beijing, opposition of the move of Beijing Zoo, Green Ribbon Campaign during the Wenchuan Earthquake, 26 Degree Air-conditioning Campaign, Green Choice, etc.
The early mission of GEV was to “enter the nature, get to know the nature, and make friends with the nature.” With consistent attention to rivers, “to advocate information transparency and public participation” was also added to the mission.
Relying on environmental journalist network, GEV’s current focus is on river protection, environmental information transparency, and public participation in environmental protection. The Nu River is the only large river in China that has not been dammed. GEV started to pay attention to the Nu River and try to affect policy-making around it since2003. It received instructions from former Premier Wen Jiabao for three times: projects that raise public concern and different opinions from environmental protection agencies should be studied scientifically and decided prudently. Ten years later, the Nu River is still flowing naturally in 2013.
Ms. Wang Yongchen, a former senior journalist of China National Radio, is the initiator and leader of GEV. She won the “environmental protection outstanding contribution” prize awarded by China’s State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), “the world environment characters in 2004” awarded by US Conde Nast Traveler, “Green Person of 2007” by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Times/CNN’s “environmental hero 2008,” People’s Net’s “environmental protection contributor since thirty years of reform and opening up”.
Through 17 years of development, GEV has become an environmental NGO with good credibility and influence in China, which is making continuous efforts for China’s river governance, environmental protection, and the development of civil society.
At Jinsha River, Southwest River Decade Journey 2011
Major projects or activities
Daily River News
From 2005, GEV summarizes main environmental news in Chinese major media every day, compiles it into an electronic journal, and emails it directly to subscribers. This helps readers at home and abroad learn China’s environmental trend intensively and promptly. This news is now linked on Guardian Environment Network as its partner.
Weekly Eco-Water Tours
Beginning from 2007, river exploring on foot is held every Saturday to guide Beijing residents to learn river ecology, supervise water pollution, and pay attention to water resource protection. This activity is also an outdoor classroom to spread environmental information and low-carbon lifestyle to the public. It has been gradually popularized in China’s provincial capitals. Its objective is to feel the beauty of rivers and record the agony of rivers.
At Yueguzonglie, headstream of Yellow River, Yellow River Decade Journey 2012
Monthly Environmental Journalist Salons in Beijing
GEVEnvironmental Journalist Salons (formerly “Green Journalist Salons”), initiated in Beijing in 2000, has held more than 100 events in the last decade. It plays an important and active role in promoting environmental protection knowledge, making environmental information open, and fostering environmental journalists in China. It is both a communication platform for environmental scientists and journalists and an exchange platform for different views in the environmental field to meet. Previous activities of GEV Environmental Journalist Salon can be seen on: http://www.greensos.cn/ListPage.aspx?lmbh=3101158101&condition=child. Such journalist salons have emerged in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Lanzhou.
Nu River, Southwest River Decade Journey 2003
Annual Southwest River Decade Journeys and Yellow River Decade Journeys
The Southwest River Decade Journey is a 10-year action plan formulated by the Green Earth in 2006. Its purpose is to pay attention to and monitor the hydroelectric development in west China. The plan organizes about 20 journalists and experts each year to investigate in Min River, Dadu River, and Yalong River in Sichuan Province, and Jinsha River, Lanchang River, and Nu River in Yunnan Province. These participants record and report objectively both the natural ecology and the changes of 10 riparian households. This activity has exerted influences at home and abroad since its implementation, and has promoted the rise of the Chinese public’s right to know public environmental events and their right to participate in public policies. Over the past 8 years, media exposure has forced some polluting enterprises to suspend production for rectification, and led some enterprises that disregarded environmental impact assessment to disclose their environmental impact assessment reports.
The Yellow River Decade Journey is a 10-year Yellow River inspection plan carried out by journalists, experts, and environmental protection volunteers. Its purpose is to pay attention to the sustainable development of the Yellow River and record the changes of 8 riparian households and a primary school at headstream, so as to influence the public policy making on China’s environmental protection. Each year, the journey starts from the headstream of the Yellow River Qumalai County, Yushu Prefecture, Qinghai Province, and lasts for 20 days until it ends at Yellow River’s Estuary in Dongying City in Shandong Province. Chemical companies in the Tengger Desert, which have been constantly investigated over the past 3 years, suffered a loss from negative media exposure.
Water in Nu River and the Ancient Tea-Horse Road, 2013
Environmental Journalist Investigations
The investigation reporters from famous media outlets are convened each year to conduct in-depth follow-up investigations in important environmental events for each year, reflect China’s general environmental condition, and pose real problems and their corresponding policies and countermeasures. Besides the annual environmental journalist investigation report, GEV organizes a series of special investigations, such as one on international NGOs in China (2008-09), one titled “Shou Wang” (“Watch”) on Chinese civil environmental NGOs (2010-11), one titled “Zui Mei de Wei Ji” (“The Most Beautiful Crisis”) on Chinese natural reserves (2011- ).
Eco-tour on Holidays
GEV provides the public with outdoor environmental classrooms through tree-planting, bird-watching, and identifying animals, plants, and the nature.
Green Reading Rooms in Elementary Schools
Green reading rooms is a green philanthropic campaign started by GEV for schools. It helps elementary schools in poor regions, especially in poor western regions, set up reading rooms and subscribe to newspapers, magazines, and CDs. Over 60 reading rooms have been set up or are under construction, which have enriched the children’s extracurricular readings, broadened their horizon; and enhanced the general public’s sense of social responsibility and volunteerism. A riparian pupil from the Nu River wrote to GEV, “After watching such good movies, I can no longer learn bad things.”
GEV’s Eco-tour at the peak of the Greater Khingan Range