It has been shown that public participation can limit powerful interest groups, while competing interests can help find a reasonable balance between development and environmental protection.
Globalisation has powered economic growth in developing countries such as China. Global logistics, low domestic production costs, and strong consumer demand have let the country develop strong export-based manufacturing, making the country the workshop of the world.
We copied laws and regulations from western countries, but enforcement remains weak, and environmental litigation is still quite near impossible.
Regulatory failings mean that the cost of breaking the law is far below that of obeying it – businesses are happier to pay fines than to control pollution.
If major companies sourcing in developing countries care only about price and quality, local suppliers will be lured to cut corners on environmental standards to win contracts.
When I look at China's environmental problems, the real barrier is not lack of technology or money. It's lack of motivation.
China should cut heavy industries' share in gross domestic output by 9 percentage points between 2013 and 2030 to meet its pollution cuts target.
We haven't seen the turning point yet, but we're sticking to our bottom line, for the environment and the health of the country.
In the future, officials will feel more pressure to protect the environment. But how to assess the officials' efforts to protect the environment is still a pivotal issue.
What we aim to do, through public pressure, is help the environment protection bureau to enforce the law.
iPhone4 is sold in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, but it was assembled in China. As the world's center for the processing of IT products, China's environment is paying the price.
I think there are a few brands like Nike and Patagonia which are quite progressively minded.
I think its time to change and balance the environment and growth. If we don't do that, we're going to suffer a hard landing one day very soon.
Environmental agencies in China are hamstrung by local officials who put economic growth ahead of environmental protection; even the courts are beholden to local officials, and they are not open to environmental litigation.
People realised this is real pollution; it is not fog. Now everyone has to face the data and come out of their comfort zone.
Pollution is a serious one. Water pollution, air pollution, and then solid hazardous waste pollution. And then beyond that, we also have the resources issue. Not just water resources but other natural resources, the mining resources being consumed, and the destruction of our ecosystem.
At the end of the day, the government, local government all bow to public pressure.
Urban residents, most of them middle class, have a much better sense of their environmental rights, and they're willing to take to the streets.
I hope to see an integrated solution created to deal with both the local pollution problem and the global climate change problem.
Beijing was such a different city. There were so few cars, I could walk in the middle of the road. In the summer, the streetlamps attracted swirling bugs. I loved those bugs: crickets, praying mantis, all kinds of beetles. I also have a vivid memory of dazzling sunlight coming out of the sky.
Greening the globalised manufacturing and sourcing will be the single biggest help multinationals could make to the tough pollution control in China and other developing countries.
The motivation should come from regulatory enforcement, but enforcement is weak, and environmental litigation is near to impossible. So there's an urgent need for extensive public participation to generate another kind of motivation.
It's true that hydropower exploitation can bring economic development, but not necessarily to the benefit of local people.
On April 16, 2010, 34 Chinese environmental organizations, including Friends of Nature, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Green Beagle, questioned heavy metal pollution in a letter sent to CEO Steve Jobs.
Multinationals are more sensitive to public pressure because they have bigger brand names, and they have made commitments to be environmentally sensitive. Chinese firms are not used to this kind of pressure yet.
Environmental problems cannot be resolved here the way they are resolved in other countries. I heard that 80 per cent of the environmental problems in the U.S. are solved in court. That can't happen here.
In America, you complain about job losses because of China, but here, we carry all of the environmental costs.
To deal with local pollution, China has put on the agenda the capping of coal, which has long been a sensitive issue.
China's environmental conundrums will not be solved by changes within government alone. New mechanisms are needed to allow the communities which may be affected by a given plan, and citizens concerned about the environment, to join in.
Brands who come to China, often they just care about price – so they actually drive the suppliers to cut corners on environmental standards to win a contract.
Some of the areas in China have been under very grave water scarcity: for example, the north China plain; they are facing a very serious water shortage. Per capita levels have dropped to very serious levels, including in Beijing.
I know the government needs to ensure economic growth… we just hope it takes care of the environment, too.
If you publish something in traditional media, it's one-way. With social media, we get all this info coming back from those who read our posts.
I tell them the rules are made by the government. Every firm should comply. It doesn't mean they can't compete.
Globalised manufacturing and procurement mean that a lot of high-polluting, heavy duty jobs are transferred to China. We will ask major companies, such as Wal-Mart, Microsoft and IBM to put pressure on their Chinese suppliers.
In some cases, it's not just about cleaning up the factories. It's about cleaning up the nearby rivers and lakes that have been tainted with heavy metals.
In China we need to do our own part to try to combat global climate change.
China is bearing the environmental cost for much of the world because China is the factory of the world.
Environmental groups are not completely against dams. We approve of appropriate development.
Ever since we published the first Apple report, we've had some other brands turning more proactive.
One thing most people would agree is that climate change would add further uncertainties to our already quite tight water supply situation in China.
We can't go to courts in China, so we have to find alternate ways, like working with brands to try and create a level playing field by identifying the most obvious polluters.
The situation is quite serious – groundwater is important source for water use, including drinking water, and if it gets contaminated, it's very costly and difficult to clean.
We must strictly enforce the Environmental Law, closing down the polluters that fail to meet the standards.
Like in those cancer villages, a group of old ladies kneeling down in front of me, you know, holding a bottle of polluted water and hoping that they would get help, this is the voice that got drowned in this complex, globalized supply chain system.
We're manufacturing to meet the demands of our own people but, in the meantime, for the entire world as well, and that definitely put a lot of extra pressure on our environment.
I hope they can see that as a consumer, if they express themselves, they may make an impact and leverage their impact on the brands, and the brands can leverage their buying power on tens of thousands of polluters – suppliers – in China.
China has leapfrogged into this information age, and Web users have grown very significantly, which knocked down the cost of doing the environmental transparency.
Of course, as consumers, we want cheap and good products; however, if these production processes are exceeding wastewater discharge standards and even causing heavy metal pollution, they will cause long-lasting damage to the ecological environment and public health.
With its imagination and large sales, Apple has become the world's most valuable IT company. However people are starting to have doubts regarding Apple's silence on heavy metal pollution problems.
China's energy is very much focused on coal, and the economy is very focused on heavy industry, which is carbon intensive, so restructuring won't be easy.
Everyone else has some interest in economic growth and development, which often happens at the expense of the environment and community. We need the other side to join this to check and balance.
China leads the world in energy consumption, carbon emissions, and the release of major air and water pollutants, and the environmental impact is felt both regionally and globally.
Even the government understands that the environmental challenge is so big that no single agency can handle it. It needs collaboration among all the stakeholders – companies, governments, NGOs and the public. Public accountability will be the ultimate driving force.
Apple has made this commitment that it's a green company. So how do you fulfill your commitment if you don't consider you have responsibility in your suppliers' pollution?
There is a growing recognition of the importance of really bringing pollution under control.
They pollute. It's not because morally they have a problem, but more because the mechanism now is rewarding those who cut corners to save cost.
While cheap products are exported to western countries, the waste is dumped mostly in China's back yard, contaminating its air, water, soil and seas.
We firmly believe the environmental issues cannot be addressed without extensive public participation, but people need to be informed before they can get involved.