The website for Asia Scholars and Asia Studies in Europe

go to events overview page


Dealing with pollution in China and beyond: stronger environmental policy is not enough



16 December 2019

Lunch is provided; registration is required.

The Chinese government has committed to integrating environmental protection into its development strategy and is investing unprecedented resources to reduce and clean up pollution. 

Progress is evident, especially with air pollution in the cities of the North. But China is grappling with its environmental problems in the context of great regional diversity in both natural conditions and scientific and governance capacity, and sustaining progress will not be easy. At the same time, although China is now a high-middle income country, many regions and sub-regions are still poor, and others are dependent on polluting industries or agricultural activities. If the government cannot ensure that the cost of pollution control does not fall disproportionately on these places and populations, China will be unable to achieve its other policy goals of reducing interregional and rural-urban inequality. Dealing with pollution is therefore not just a matter of environmental policy – it requires coordination across multiple policy streams, from industry and agriculture to social protection and education. 

As China takes on a greater role in the international arena through the Belt and Road Initiative and engagement with international organizations, these questions will have significance far beyond its own borders. There is much that can be learned from China’s experience but understanding these complex interactions requires greater collaboration both within the social sciences and also across the natural-social science divide. This lecture considers these questions drawing on ten years of research by the interdisciplinary Forum on Health, Environment and Development (FORHEAD).

Dr Jennifer Holdaway is joining IIAS as an Affiliated Fellow in December 2019. She was formerly a Program Director and China Representative at the Social Science Research Council and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. For the last 12 years, she has been Co-Director of the Forum on Health, Environment and Development, which brings an interdisciplinary approach to understanding tensions between environment and development in China. Holdaway’s other interests also include migration and urbanization. Her primary role has been to promote problem-driven research that integrates perspectives across the social sciences and across the natural-social science divide. She has edited more than 10  books and special journal issues on FORHEAD and other projects, and her own work has been published in the China Quarterly, the Journal of Contemporary China, Social Science and Medicine, and the Journal of Ecology of Resources.



Registration (required)

Please use the web form on the right-hand side of this page to register (by Friday 13 December if you would like us to cater for your lunch).