Over the past two decades, rapid economic growth powered by cheap, conventional energy had fueled an incredible increase in Chinese living standards lifting millions out of poverty. Yet today, China is grappling with a new challenge: the environmental costs of that growth, most commonly experienced through dangerously high levels of air pollution that are shortening lives throughout the country.

Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun is helping to change that. After convincing the Chinese government to encourage the release of real-time pollution data from industrial facilities, Jun and his nonprofit Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs created a smart phone app that allows the public to see, and report, where the worst polluters are located. This approach to pollution abatement, built on transparency, focuses on putting information out in the open in an organized and easily-accessible way, allowing citizens to call for change. Many in China credit the effort for helping to usher in recent signs of progress, and other countries are looking to the work as a model.

Watch EPIC as we hosted Ma Jun for a talk on the role of transparency, citizen engagement, and the future of environmental regulation.


Video available here: