Activists Group: You are an Environmental Activist Based in China
Your Background and Biography
You were born in a city in southern China in the late 1960s, and your passion for fairness meant you fought a lot of schoolyard bullies. You became a journalist after college, living in mainland China while writing for a newspaper based in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s legacy as a British colony gave writers more freedom to publish articles critical of the Chinese government, and you became known for your investigations into China’s rapidly growing state-owned businesses.
Your big break came in the late 1990s. As China became a major manufacturer of the goods purchased by Americans and Europeans, you told the world how that production was damaging China’s environment—and the health of its people. Your exposé on water pollution helped to catalyze environmental activism among China’s emerging middle class. You decided to move from journalism into more direct activism and founded an environmental activist organization.
Today your organization is running a campaign to get western consumers to consider the environmental performance of manufacturers and to buy products made in more responsible ways. You document pollution in China, then share that information to pressure producers to make positive changes.
In the Sustainability Seal negotiations you will advocate for the people whose health is jeopardized by the pollution associated with rare earth production. You recognize that in China official laws and government regulations do not necessarily protect people. Transparency and visibility are thus important to you in these negotiations so that western consumers can learn when their goods are harming people and put pressure on manufacturers and producers to use better practices.
Your goal at this hearing is to convince the Stewardship Council to include the Activists Group’s recommendations in its final Sustainability Seal guiding values. To make this argument effectively, you must do the following:
Complete the assigned readings listed at the bottom of this page.
Work closely with the other members of your group to develop clear answers to the Stewardship Council’s questions.
Use as much specific information as possible to develop strong arguments for your position that protecting the environment and promoting human well-being (physical and economical) are critical to establishing a sustainable, ethical rare earth elements industry.
Read as much as you can about your position and the positions of the other groups.
Complete written reflections on your character, interest group, and readings as assigned.
Your Victory Objectives
You will receive 10 points if the Stewards select your group’s proposal as the final Sustainability Seal guiding values.
- The Stewards will rank the interest groups by how well their goals are represented in the final Sustainability Seal guiding values. You will receive between 1 and 4 points based on how the Activists Group is ranked and how well the Sustainability Seal guiding values reflect your goals.
- Activists Case Study: “Protecting Health and the Environment in an Age of Global Trade”
- Ives, Mike. “Boom in Mining Rare Earths Poses Mounting Toxic Risks.” Yale Environment 360, January 28, 2013.
- Bontron, Cécile. “Rare-Earth Mining in China Comes at a Heavy Cost for Local Villages.” Guardian, August 7, 2012.
- Skoll Foundation. “Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2015.” April 16, 2015. (Video, 6 min.)
- Su, Alice. “The Hidden Costs of China’s Rare Earth Trade.” Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2019.