This thesis focuses on a Chinese environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) and the ways in which they translate and transform the current trans-national environmental discourse, thereby making it their own. It also examines the strategies that an ambitious environmental NGO may employ to be efficient and viable in the transitional society that is contemporary China.
Friends of Nature (FON) is China's oldest existing environmental NGO and their aim is to establish and disseminate respect and understanding for nature in the Chinese population, especially among the young. The organization has developed a range of bigger and smaller projects to work for this goal, and their main foci are environmental education, nature appreciation activities, as well as lobbying.
I look at FON's human resources and other capital forms to explain how their projects come about. I also look at the political and legal restrictions within which they must keep and the strategies they employ in dialogue with these. Furthermore, I examine some of the earlier Chinese thoughts and practices vis-a-vis nature that form the historical background both for China's environmental condition today and for modern Chinese people's thoughts and attitudes towards nature. Some of the ideational diversity in this background is refound in the different messages about nature that FON's various activities express.
FON is an environmental organization whose loyalties are first and foremost towards nature. However, they combine their environmental message with certain social critisisms. I see this as natural because the environment and human development are everywhere linked, but it also provides a way of extending the environmental message to people who may not see an intrinsic value in nature.
FON has survived and thrived as one of China's best known environmental NGOs because of a successful combination of human resources, focus areas, and strategies. These are hopefully outlined in the present thesis.