One hundred thousand Chinese students took part in various activities Saturday as volunteers to promote environmental protection and ecological conservation throughout the country.
They gathered, mostly in environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 22 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai,and 19 provinces and autonomous regions from southeastern Fujian to northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to theorganizer, China Environmental Culture Promotion Society, a non-profit organization sponsored by the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA).
The students planted trees, collected trash in the sea, and called for quick action to save water and protect wetlands.
Despite being the world's fastest growing economy, China is "not on track in reversing the loss of its environmental resources",said The "Millennium Development Goals: China's Progress", a report released by the United Nations Thursday in Beijing.
The report noted that China is facing serious environmental challenges including land degradation, water scarcity and deteriorating water quality, rapid industrialization and urbanization, threatened biodiversity, energy inefficiency and declining urban environment caused by air pollution, use of pesticides and fertilizers and urban solid waste.
"I believe NGOs will surely play a key role in China's environmental protection, because the government cannot do everything. However, they need coordination, training and support," said Pan Yue, vice-director of SEPA and an advocate of public participation in environmental campaigns.
He said SEPA will help to establish an NGO cooperation network in two years and provide professional training for small grassroots groups.
According to official statistics, there are over 2,000 environmental NGOs in China, most of which are small, loosely organized and lacking in communications framework.
"There is a long way to go to establish full public participation, a disclosure system for environmental information and a democratic decision-making process for environmental issues,but it's SEPA's ultimate goal," said Pan.