Friday, September 26, 2008

Project to Measure China’s Environmental Performance Launched

The Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and The Samuel Family Foundation have announced the launch of a project to assess environmental management and performance at the provincial level in China.
Unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York on Sept. 25, the project involves a partnership between the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning—a division of China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection—and Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network. It officially begins with a symposium in Beijing on Sept. 28 that will convene local and international experts to discuss the design of a Pilot 2009 China Environmental Performance Index (China EPI). Recognizing that on-the-ground conditions are the optimal measure of environmental performance, the China EPI will be a composite index of current information showing the status of China’s environment at the provincial level.

The initial report will be released in the fall of 2009 and will compare China’s provinces on categories such as air pollution, water quality and quantity, environmental health, climate change, biodiversity, fisheries, agriculture, and forestry.

“Environment is one of China’s most pressing issues,” said Dan Esty ’86, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. “And it is clear that the current government wants to take a leadership role on this critical issue—building on a platform of carefully constructed performance metrics. We are pleased to be working with a strong and engaged team of Chinese officials and international experts on this initiative.”

Building on ten years of experience developing benchmarking tools for environmental decision-makers, the most recent of which was the global 2008 Environmental Performance Index, the China EPI will focus on quantifiable outcomes that can be linked to policy targets and tracked over time.

According to Kim Samuel-Johnson, president of the Samuel Family Foundation, “The goal of this project is not merely to produce a report but to build a foundation for more quantitative and systematic analysis of environmental policy. It will allow the Chinese government not only to see which provincial practices work and which do not, but also to see which practices are the most effective.” 

“This joint effort has the potential of giving national and provincial-level policymakers the capacity to make real and effective changes to China’s environmental management,” Samuel-Johnson said.

The comparative analysis offered by the China EPI will facilitate tracking trends, identifying leaders and laggards, and highlighting best practices. By providing a comprehensive, data-driven assessment of the broader spectrum of environmental challenges, the China EPI will help the Chinese government effectively address the most pressing environmental concerns, set priorities for allocation of resources, and build a practical framework for sustainable development in the future.

About the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy

The Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy seeks to advance fresh thinking and analytically rigorous approaches to environmental decision-making—across disciplines, sectors, and boundaries.  For more information, visit the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy website.

About the Samuel Family Foundation

The Samuel Family Foundation supports the empowerment of the family unit and the family in the community. The Foundation has made a long-term commitment to help provide family members experiencing cancer and disability, family caregivers and the family as a whole with value-added resources in their communities.