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Solutions to the Dilemma of “Not-In- My- Backyard” Issue



By Zhou Hongchun, DRC

The issue of “not-in-my-backyard”(NIMBY) originated in the 1950s and 1960s from Western countries’ protests to the construction of refuse processing plants, substations and other public facilities close to their living areas. Urban and rural waste disposal is imperative. The successful solution of NIMBY issue is an embodiment of government governance ability, requiring not only preventive measures prior to the occurrence of NIMBY issue, relevant response to the issue after its occurrence and proper handling in the aftermath of the issue, but also positive cooperation among government, enterprises and the public. This paper has raised the following policy options.

1. The government needs to change outmoded ideas and give waste treatment a scientific definition. Garbage disposal belongs to public service, which cannot be treated as a profitable industry. Local governments should take relevant responsibilities for an overall planning of waste treatment. With regard to actual measures, they should resort to more cleaning and less landfill, and follow the processing procedures of “reducing, recycling and reusing”.

2. The government needs to start with classification and reduction of refuse from the source, establish high threshold for market access, foster strict management and control over discharge, improve the monitoring, statistics and evaluation system, and regulate market performance.

3. The government needs to make scientific site selection and give reasonable compensation. Garbage incineration plants could be built near government offices. Subsidies and life improvement plan need to be provided and made to encourage the active participation of the people.

4. Public participation and effective communication mechanism need to be established. Supervising departments need to disclose more information about their planning, laying emphasis on hearings and argumentation so that they could become coordinators and communicators between the government and the public.

5. The disclosure of information needs to be strengthened to resolve public’s concerns.

6. The charging policy needs to be improved to ensure the normal operation of waste disposal facilities.

7. Relevant responsibilities need to be clarified to form a long-term mechanism for addressing NIMBY issues.

8. The government needs to strengthen monitoring and supervision to form a mechanism responding to NIMBY issues, and it also needs to improve the environmental impact assessment and hearing system, the government and social regulatory system, as well as the respondent mechanism and contingency plans.

9. The public needs to enhance their awareness and ability to participate in environmental protection.


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