Zhou Jinfeng: Congratulations to CBCGDF Volunteer Zhang Yizeng’s Newly Translated Book “NGO Diplomacy” Will Be Published Soon (I)

The translator of this book, Zhang Yizeng, is currently studying at Yale University. Since the first year of high school, she has been a volunteer of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) and is still a member of the overseas volunteer group of the college student environmental committee of CBCGDF.

From my observation of Zhang Yizeng’s experience as a volunteer in CBCGDF, she is a very diligent and studious girl who is good at thinking and courageous to take actions, which is especially valuable. Take two examples. In September 2016, she participated in the IUCN-World Conservation Congress (WCC) as my assistant, and on behalf of the CBCGDF, she gave a keynote speech on the protection of water resources and won many praises. Also, during this IUCN-WCC, she also helped arrange a meeting of me with Dr. Bradnee Chambers, the Executive Secretary of CMS. This event later vigorously promoted China’s international cooperation in the protection of migratory species.

At the end of 2017, while studying at Yale, she represented CBCGDF in Boston to attend the International Dark-sky Association (IDA) annual meeting. At the meeting, she introduced China’s efforts and practices in the protection of the dark and starry sky, and on behalf of Mr. Wang Xiaohua, the former head of the CBCGDF Dark and Starry Sky Committee (deceased), received the highest honor in the international dark and starry sky protection community. Her participation this time effectively promoted the two Community Conservation Area for Dark and Starry Sky sites in Tibet, China, to be included in the “International Dark Sky Reserves List.” This is the first time China’s work in this area has been Recognized.

As China’s leading eco-friendly public welfare NGO, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) has been actively participating in global environmental governance, responding to environmental and climate change through various links in the field of biodiversity and sustainable development, and is at the forefront of related work. Including advocating the “ecological ‘Belt and Road’” initiative, actively participating in global governance, participating in the formulation of game rules, and promoting the writing of A Community with Shared Future for Mankind into the Global Pact for the Environment, etc.

The NGO diplomacy going out is undoubtedly very meaningful. Since the 1970s, new globalization issues such as the environment and public health have received more attention from the level of international cooperation. The proliferation of globalization networks has increased the mobility of resources in the international arena, making social, economic and cultural connections between countries. With the deepening, the complexity of global governance and intergovernmental negotiations is getting deeper, and the number of governments and NGOs participating in the negotiations is also increasing. For example, there were 132 governments participating in the negotiations at the Stockholm Conference (1972) and 250 NGOs. At the Johannesburg Summit (2002), the number of participating governments increased to 191 and NGOs increased to 3200. NGOs are composed of people who transcend national borders, pay attention to global common interests, have common values and the same understanding, have professional expertise in knowledge and information, independent identity and value perspective, and strong publicity, action and execution power. In the current complex globalization game, participation and policy impacts at various levels such as state, society, and international relations cannot be ignored.

However, it is still difficult for social organizations to go out and serve the “Belt and Road” and a Community with Shared Future for Mankind. There are currently more than 700,000 NGOs in China, covering various fields such as poverty alleviation, health, education, environmental protection, and climate change. Compared with the world’s top NGOs, the self-positioning of Chinese NGO groups is more focused on “grassroots” work. At the same time, they are also facing challenges in the legal environment, capital, experience, human resources, and so on. It is understood that the proportion of Chinese foreign-related NGOs does not exceed 1%, which can be said to be minimal, and the depth and breadth of foreign-related work needs to be strengthened.

China has been encouraging social organizations to go out. So, what is the principle and purpose of “going out”? I will talk about some superficial thinking from the following aspects. First of all, the state encourages social organizations to “go out” so that the world can hear good stories and good voices from China. The current situation is that China’s voice is now being heard too little. Take the CITES Standing Committee 69 held in Geneva in 2017 as an example. A total of 83 NGOs from around the world participated, and only 2 of them came from China. How many NGOs from Western countries have participated? 34.42% from the United States and 22.27% of NGOs in Europe. China’s NGO participation accounted for only 2.3%.

Another phenomenon is that China’s NGOs have a small number of participation and are relatively silent, not as active as NGOs from other countries. There are actually many such opportunities, and more participation and active voice from Chinese NGOs are needed.

Second, encouraging social organizations to “go out” is conducive to the establishment of a discourse system with Chinese characteristics. When NGOs go out, they can effectively “tell Chinese stories well and bridge well”, effectively do a good job of external publicity, spread good stories of China to the outside world, and enhance China’s international voice.

Third, encouraging social organizations to “go out” will help resolve possible conflicts in the future. This is also an important mission of the “Belt and Road” and “Community of the People”. For example, enterprises invest in countries along the “Belt and Road”, and many large-scale engineering projects face many ecological problems. In short, the far-reaching impact of overseas engineering construction projects on the ecological environment and biodiversity and the corresponding conflict resolution mechanisms have not attracted enough attention. For example, the construction of roads, railways, ports, and power generation will have an impact on the natural ecological environment. How can the impact be minimized? How to combine social development with ecological protection? How to get the support of local protection organizations – at least not against it? When social organizations go out, they can enhance mutual understanding and enhance China’s international reputation. Some common-minded tasks must be carried out before we can have the opportunity to resolve conflicts in the future and prevent or reduce the ecological problems that may arise in the “Belt and Road” international cooperation.

Original Chinese article:


By / Maggie, Yao Jiahui (Intern)

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