Chinese e-commerce giant teams up with NGO to protect water resources

Signal of change / Chinese e-commerce giant teams up with NGO to protect water resources

By George Harding-Rolls / 01 Jun 2017

The Xiaoxiang area of south-central China encompasses the catchment area of many rivers feeding into the Yangtze, one of China's major rivers. It is also home to the world’s largest mines for non-ferrous metals used in many electronic devices. As a result, pollution from cancer-causing heavy metals is contaminating the area's water resources, and even getting into the food system. Chinese NGO, Green Hunan (Lǜsè xiāoxiāng 绿色潇湘) was set up to tackle abuse of the area's water resources, growing from a grassroots river clean-up movement to a trusted and effective registered NGO (itself a bureaucratic feat in China).

Now, Green Hunan has become the first NGO to receive funding from the Alibaba Foundation, part of the Alibaba group, a Chinese e-commerce giant and household name. The support and funding for its 'river watchers' (Héliú shǒuwàng zhě 河流守望者) programme could provide a scalable solution to bring polluting industries to account. 

So what?

While civic action around air pollution in China has created concerted government action, the country's efforts to tackle water pollution, soil degradation, biodiversity loss and a host of other environmental problems have been poor. A large business supporting this kind of NGO work signals a growing concern of many Chinese citizens about the lack of effort to protect China's embattled water resources. The Ali Baba Foundation's partnership could lead the way for more businesses to put their weight and funding behind tackling China's environmental degradation.



Alibaba joins efforts to protect water resources in China

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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