Guizhou Province is rich of natural resources such as water and coal, and considered one of the most important energy provinces in China. However, due to the fast development of its economy and urbanization process as well as population increase, Guizhou has encountered many environmental problems. For example, water pollution of Hongfeng Lake, Baihua Lake and Aha Reservoir are very serious. The high degree of environmental pollution and ecological degradation in the area has had considerable effect on people’s health and resulted in significant economic losses.
Up until today (2012), to promote environmental protection, four environmental tribunals have been set up in Guizhou Province (Guiyang, Pingba County at Anshun, and Kaili at Qiandongnan Prefecture), however, they cover only a small part of the province. Between 2007 and 2012, the two Environmental Tribunals in Guiyang handled 593 cases of environmental damages. Furthermore, the Guizhou Province is experiencing difficulties in enforcing environmental legislation and there is also a lack of procedures for compensation of environmental damages as well as lack of environmental information disclosure. As a consequence, the environmental rights of pollution victims and the public are not fully protected. There is a need for increased awareness among the public and other stakeholders as well as capacity building among local institutions, NGOs, law firms and volunteer lawyers and judicial authorities in order to enhance the public’s access to environmental justice.
The environmental justice project in Guizhou is of particular relevance to the specific needs and constraints existing in Guizhou Province, but the ambition was also to achieve duplicable results that can be up-scaled and applied to other parts of China as well as central level policy-making.