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Alibaba joins efforts to protect water resources

The Chinese e-commerce giant joins environmental NGOs to mobilise "river guards," even as it taps natural water bodies to cool its massive data centres.

Alibaba, a dominant player in China’s e-commerce, has teamed up with several non-governmental environmental protection organisations to protect water resources in the country.

Alibaba Foundation and the organisations formed an alliance Saturday at a meeting on water resources protection and green development, which was held in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province.

Members of the alliance include Alibaba Foundation, Friends of Nature, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Hunan, and Beijing Green Foundation.

At the same time, Alibaba Foundation and Green Hunan, based in central China’s Hunan Province, announced to set up a river-guarding center.

They plan to have 2, 000 people serving as “folk river chiefs” in the Yangtze River valley in three years. These folk river chiefs will be engaged in reporting issues such as stinky waters, and participate in protection of water sources.

We should promote the disclosure of environmental information and make it visual, so that the public at anytime can focus on the environmental issues.

Jin Jianhang, Alibaba Foundation

The public should be encouraged to take part in environmental protections, said Jin Jianhang with Alibaba Foundation.

“We should promote the disclosure of environmental information and make it visual, so that the public at anytime can focus on the environmental issues.”

Fang Min, director of Zhejiang provincial environmental protection department, said environmental protection requires participation of the whole society.

A new pattern led by the government, with coordination of different departments, engagement of all social sectors and public supervision, can be formed through efforts such as cross-sector cooperation and unified actions,and win-win results be achieved, according to Fang.

“We hope to work with more organisations to promote the rule of law in the field of environment,” said Zhang Boju, secretary general of Beijing Friends of Nature Foundation.

In December 2016, China began to appoint “river chiefs” with responsibilities which include resource protection, pollution prevention and control, and ecological restoration.

Their performance will be assessed and they will be held accountable for environmental damage in bodies of water under their supervision.

Environmental protection and restoration is a top priority of the development plan for the Yangtze River economic belt, which accommodates over 600 million people with about one fifth of China’s land.

According to statistics of China Environmental Organisation Map, there are currently more than 2,000 non-governmental environmental protection organisations across the country.

This story was published with permission from

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