After the phase of Command-Control Mechanism in the 1970s and Market-oriented Mechanism in the 1980s, the evolution of China’s state governance has moved on to the third phase of Information disclosure, dialogue and cooperation mechanism. Accordingly, spatial governance is going through a similar process. The importance of public participation (PP) was addressed in China’s Agenda 21. In 1996, PP mechanisms were established in spatial governance projects (State council, 1996), and then introduced into an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legal mechanism (Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, 2002). Thereafter, PP has been gradually institutionalized and substantiated into spatial governance practice. Composed of citizens who share similar concerns or attitudes towards specific issues, an NGO is generally expected to be more positively influential than un-organized individual participants on decision-making and negotiation process. In natural conservation regions, conflicts between regional construction planning and environment protection are fierce. What role should the NGOs play in those regions, considering this dilemma? Could the current laws and regulations ensure all voices are being heard and taken into account? In China, NGO’s participation in conservation governance practices remains passive and hard to achieve. Effectiveness of NGO’s participation largely depends on publicity and mainstream public opinion on major media platforms. NGOs’ participation helps supervise conservation governance practice, while NGO’s participation itself needs to be better guaranteed by a controlled implementation of relevant regulations. Suggestions for improving NGOs performance includes to promote the legal regime of participatory conservation planning, and to establish sound cooperation between the mass media and the NGOs.
Key words: NGO; nature reserve; participation.
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