Yongchen Wang – China

Linked with The Virtual Foundation.org.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Wang Yongchen is a journalist at China’s Central People’s Radio Station and convener of Green Earth Volunteers (GEV). She realizes the strength of the media in environmental protection, using her professional expertise to promote environmental protection. A pioneer of radio programs on environmental concerns, such as “Classroom on Wednesday” and “Journalist Salon”, she opens platforms for public education and debate, and aims to change and raise public awareness on the environment, the relationship between humans and nature, and social responsibility in the protection of nature.

She says: “I am often regarded as a woman who is building a grand environmental-protection project. But I think that I am part of nature. And I am only doing what everyone should be doing”.

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Yongchen Wang – China

She works for the Green Earth Volunteers GEV (named as member of The Virtual Foundation.org).

Wang Yongchen, native of Anhui Province, was born in Beijing in 1954. She graduated from the Library Department of Beijing University and is now a journalist for China’s Central People’s Radio Station and convener of Green Earth Volunteers (GEV), a non-governmental organization on environmental protection. Over the past 16 years, she has been active in China’s environmental protection movement in the capacity of a journalist.

It all began in 1988 after Wang worked on the stories on the hunting of wild Yaks in the Qinghai-Tibetan highland and a bird-loving primary school children in Jiangsu Province. She was deeply shocked by how people brought about the destruction of nature in the former and was impressed by the love and passion for nature in the later. This has served as the motive and the driving force for Wang’s dedication in her 16-year cause for environmental protection. She recalled, “I was really touched. From then on, environmental protection is to go to nature, to get to know nature, and make friends with nature. Only then can we live in harmony with our neighbors – animals in nature.” The children gave the lie to Wang’s belief that only rich and free undertook environmental protection. The students loved birds very much and they were very poor. The sight of some wild animals being killed in Tibet also inspired her to focus on environmental protection.

Over the past decade, Wang has traveled extensively around China to learn the impact of economic development on the environment. She also produces many radio programs and contributes to printed media to promote public education and raise public awareness on environment degradation. In 1988, Wang produced two programs, “Save the Maples in Xiangshan” and “Clean Lake Kunming”. They were two of the earliest radio programs on ecology and environment issues in the Chinese media.

She won the first Prize for Chinese Environmental News for “This Is Also a Hope Project” produced in 1994. Her “Discussion on Freeing Caged Birds” in 1996 drew enthusiastic reactions. Her “Yangtze River is Turning White” produced in 1997 has been instrumental in the enactment of a legislation to ban plastic lunchboxes in vessels navigating along the Yangtze River. She has won many prizes for her programs, including the Earth Award in 1999, the Environmental Envoy from the State Environmental Protection Administration in 2000, and she was selected as the World Environment Figure by Conde Nast Traveler in the US.

Wang Yongchen understands the strength of the media in environmental protection. She also realizes that we must understand the earth so that we can better protect our environment. Her two programs, “Classroom on Wednesday” and “Journalists’ Salon” aim to provide an open platform for public education and to encourage the media to discuss environmental protection and enhance their concern in this regard. The “Journalists’ Salon” has become a place where experts, journalists, and environmental protection activists discuss key environmental topics. Many of the issues discussed in the “Journalists’ Salon” have been picked up by the mainstream media; and effectively enhance public concern and public participation in different environmental protection activities. The issues introduced by the Journalists’ Salon included relocation of the zoo in Beijing, dam building in upstream Dujiangyan irrigation scheme, Sichuan Province, hydropower development in Lu Jiang, and dam building in Leaping Tiger Gorge, in Yunnan Province.

Wang Yongchen founded an environmental protection non-governmental organization, Green Earth Volunteer (GEV), with a friend in 1996. Its mission is to go to nature, to know nature, and make friends with nature. It undertakes environmental protection education and promotes environmental protection awareness. GEV has been able to attract like-minded people from the media who are concerned with environmental protection and also environmental scientists who hold the responsibility for preserving the ecological balance. Over the past decade, over 50,000 people have participated in GEV activities.

In 2003, Wang participated in the battle against dam building in Lu Jiang, Yunnan Province. She took a lot of photographs along Lu Jiang for a photograph exhibition that toured many cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Since 2003, Wang has been participating in the battle against dam building along Lu Jiang, in Yunnan Province. In the “Journalists’ Salon” and among NGOs, she called for the protection of Lu Jiang. “Please save the few natural and ecological rivers for our descendants and for ourselves,” she said. In February 2004, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao halted the dam project, saying that prudent scientific research was needed for projects of wide public concerns as the Lu Jiang case. Over the past months, Wang delved into the study of rivers. She went upstream along the Dadu River and the Jinsha River with other experts to study the ecology and life style of indigenous people there.

Aspiring to build a sound museum, Wang collects different sounds from nature and shares these with friends. “I am often regarded as a woman who is building a grand environmental protection project. But I think that I am part of nature. And I am only doing what everyone should be doing.” (1000PeaceWomen).

China: Wang Yongchen Wins Condé Nast Traveler Environmental Award, Januar 10, 2005.

“It is not only China’s concern. We are part of the global village and this means that nature is for everybody. We have the same river – the Nu River in China is the Salween in Burma and Thailand, the Lancang is the Mekong. We have just one river, with one beginning and one end”. Wang Yongchen attended the RWESA general meeting and made a presentation entitled “The Growing River Protection Movement in China” … (full text).

Wang Yongchen and Environmental Investigative Journalism in China.

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