Worldview

Ma Jun, ‘Founder Of China's Environmental Movement,’ On China’s Environmental And Climate Strategies

Ma Jun of China, left, a 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awardee, Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, receives his medallion and citation from Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno during an award ceremony Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

Steve Bynum, Jerome McDonnell

In January 2017, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his country will fill the vacuum created by American isolationism on issues like climate change and the environment.

But according to China’s most recent annual environmental report, three-fourths of Chinese cities can’t meet the nation’s air quality standards, while the water quality of 60 percent of monitored groundwater wells is either “bad” or “very bad.” 

Dr. Ma Jun is founding director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, based in Beijing. Hailed as the “founder of China’s environmental movement,” he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential persons by Time Magazine in 2006 and received the prestigious Goldman Prize in 2012 for his environmental research and activism. 

Jun also garners attention from celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. His most notable achievement was creating China’s Blue Map, a mobile app that provides public data on environmental violations by Chinese companies. 

Currently, Jun is the 2017 Dr. Scholl Foundation Visiting Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He joins us for a conversation on the state of sustainability in China and the country’s new position as a geopolitical leader on the environment.