Comprehensive Understanding and Practice of Environmental Public Interest Litigation from the Perspective of Ecological Civilization | CBCGDF Made Seven Recommendations
2019/11/15 15:34:00 本站

A few days ago, the relevant departments organized a symposium on environmental public interest litigation (EPIL). Representatives of government agencies, representatives of courts and procuratorates, legal experts, representatives of social organizations, representatives of defendant enterprises in environmental public interest litigation, etc., jointly discussed the current development of environmental public interest litigation in China in the past five years. Focused on real problems and explored solutions. Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, the Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) was invited to attend.


At the meeting, Dr. Zhou explained the significance of the environmental public interest litigation work from the perspective of ecological civilization. He said that the environmental public interest litigation system is a system that advances from specific environmental events and implements ecological civilization. For example, the Ministry of Education has listened to CBCGDF's recommendations and issued a notice requesting efforts to achieve the new school season with no using of plastic book covers. By filing EPIL cases involving Toxic Synthetic Running Tracks, the problems of the poisonous running tracks on the campus that lasted for more than a decade has been effectively solved, and the harmonious development of society has been promoted. People should understand and practice the environmental public interest litigation from the height of ecological civilization.


In conjunction with the practice in the EPIL field, CBCGDF also submitted seven recommendations to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment:


1. It is recommended to increase the purchase of third-party services. Social organizations' environmental public interest litigation is an effective measure to fully mobilize social forces to maintain the safety of the ecological environment, as well as the rights and obligations conferred by the law. However, in the specific implementation process, social organizations need to raise funds themselves and take risks at their own risk to deal with the long-term trial period, large capital demand, and shortage of professional talents faced by environmental public interest litigation. This makes many social organizations either discouraged, either it is not effective, which is not conducive to the long-term and sustainable development of social organizations in environmental public interest litigation. Therefore, it is recommended that the environmental department increase the purchase of third-party services of social organizations, ease the economic pressure of social organizations, and establish close relations with social organizations. The links help to fully tap the social forces to fully cooperate with the environmental department to carry out related work.


2. It is recommended to strengthen the environmental department's support for prosecution. Social organizations have great disadvantages compared with government departments in terms of case evidence collection and litigation, and there are major difficulties. Therefore, it is recommended that the environmental department's environmental public interest litigation should strengthen its support to social organizations as prosecution units, including providing evidence support and expert-assisted witness support to alleviate the pressure of litigation in social organizations.


3. It is recommended to strengthen the disclosure of environmental inspection information. The central environmental protection inspector has mastered a large amount of environmental information in the process of carrying out inspections, but this information has not been widely disclosed. This has also enabled some local departments to have the opportunity to be "opportunistic" in the face of environmental inspectors. It is recommended to strengthen the publicity of environmental inspection information and give full play to the public supervision role of social organizations and their volunteer systems. On the one hand, it can effectively cooperate with the central environmental protection inspection team to conduct local supervision and prevent local governments from perfunctory improvement or false improvement. On the other hand, it is convenient for social organizations to follow up on public inspection information, and to initiate environmental public interest litigation, and form a joint force with administrative law enforcement.


4. It is recommended to establish a mutual trust and communication mechanism between government departments and social organizations. Social organizations carry out environmental supervision and litigation work, which can effectively save the human, material and financial resources of government departments, and assist the government departments in environmental protection work in a more flexible way. At present, with the capacity building of social organizations and the strengthening of the guiding role of party committees, local government departments and social organizations have established mechanisms for dialogue and communication. For example, regular meetings with social organizations will not only help to effectively eliminate misunderstandings and barriers, strengthen understanding and mutual trust, but also face major environmental events or investigations of cases, and can also invite social organizations to participate in cooperation and sign confidentiality agreement if necessary. It facilitates the investigation to be thorough and comprehensive.


5. It is recommended to change the embarrassing situation of the procuratorate as a unit supporting the prosecution. In recent years, especially criminal cases involving rare and endangered wildlife, or evidence of corporate environmental violations, are mostly controlled by grassroots prosecution authorities. However, because the civil public interest litigation case is under the jurisdiction of the Intermediate People's Court, the procuratorial organ at the grassroots level is difficult to help the social organization to raise environmental public interest litigation as a unit supporting the prosecution, and the city procuratorate corresponding to the level of the Intermediate People's Court does not understand the situation, it is difficult to really play the role of supporting the prosecution unit.


6. It is recommended to strengthen the sequence and coordination involving ecological environmental litigation to maximize the effect. Article 17 of the Supreme Court's Judicial Interpretation of Compensation for Ecological Environmental Damage Compensation clarifies the civil environmental public interest litigation brought by social organizations, and needs to give compensation to the ecological environment damages filed by the government departments, but for the same environmental damage that both parties are concerned about, there is still a lack of relevant coordination measures after the social organization has given way. It is suggested that the follow-up of such cases should be fully introduced with the participation and supervision of social organizations, so as to effectively protect the effectiveness of litigation and the public's right to know and participate.


7. In the work of social organizations to carry out environmental public interest litigation, the funding problem is a particularly significant pressure. In addition to the mitigation measures of increasing government procurement services in the above recommendations, it is also recommended to reduce the financial pressure on social organizations to carry out environmental public interest litigation work in various aspects. For example, refer to the mechanism of “58 environmental damage judicial appraisal agencies not pre-collecting appraisal fees in prosecutorial public interest litigation”; to change the common situation in judgment, which only considers a small amount or even rejects the claims of social organizations for the costs related to public interest litigation.


Up to now, CBCGDF has carried out environmental public interest litigation work for nearly 5 years and has filed more than 100 cases. Several cases, such as the Tengger Desert Pollution Case and the Toxic Synthetic Running Tracks Case, were selected as typical cases by the Supreme Court and other units, and undertook the Environmental Rights Maintenance Project of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, compiled and published “Selection of Environmental Public Interest Litigation Cases” and so on, received high praise from all walks of life.


CBCGDF sincerely hopes that the relevant departments pay attention to the above recommendations.

Original Chinese article:

By / Maggie