Environmental governance in China: weakness and potential from an environmental policy integration perspective

Bina, Olivia (2010) Environmental governance in China : weakness and potential from an environmental policy integration perspective. The China Review. 10 (1) pp.207–240.

Interest in China’s capacity for environmental governance is growing, in line with its environmental woes and exponential economic growth. Environmental policy efforts have lacked effectiveness, confirming the persistence of a disjuncture between promise and performance. This article contributes to the debate through the analytical lens of Environmental Policy Integration (EPI): a normative concept and governance regime indispensable to sustainable development. It finds that China, like most OECD countries, falls short of the concept. Despite encouraging recent changes, driven by the Hu-Wen regime, and encapsulated in the idea of scientific development, the analysis reveals weaknesses in all three EPI-type responses: normative, organisational and procedural. The disjuncture is confirmed, but drawing on EPI’s normative perspective, it is suggested that the reasons for this lie as much in the framing of the promise, as in the performance, or implementation, itself. Based on this interpretation and on China’s unique extreme characteristics, it is recommended that environmental policy objectives be given principled priority status, as a condition for effective governance.

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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