China: Jianli Yun

People who know me understand that it is because I care, while those who do not know me wonder what I am after.

— Jianli Yun

Yun Jianli initiated the formation of Green Han River, an environmental protection organization, in 2002. She has put tremendous efforts into raising public awareness and concern in Hunan’s Xiangfan City. As a result, the water quality of the Han River, which is the source of China’s "South-North Water Transfer" (SNWT) project, has been improved.

Yun Jianli, once a high school teacher, retired in 1988 at the age of 55. At this turning point in her life, she decided to become a volunteer in environmental protection, which was a great surprise to her family and colleagues. In 2002 she initiated the formation of Green Han River, with virtually no resources whatsoever, and devoted herself wholeheartedly to environmental protection. “People who know me understand that it is because I care, while those who do not know me wonder what I am after,” Jianli says. When she first began her engagement with the green movement, people's awareness of environmental issues was minimal. Many people failed to understand her; others thought she was insane. Governmental officials thought she was too nosy, while factory owners were hostile. Jianli visited villages, factories, and mountainous areas along the Han River to investigate the sources of pollution. She wrote over 100 reports and submitted more than ten motions to the government. As a result of the public education work of Jianli’s green group, people’s awareness of environment protection issues was much enhanced, efforts by environmental protection authorities were improved, and many small paper factories were closed down. Jianli introduced environmental protection education to campuses, communities and villages, reaching over 60,000 people. The group has employed different approaches for different target communities, making their work more effective. The volunteer team in Xiangfan became larger and larger, with members' ages ranging from kindergarten age to over 80. People named her “Sister Yun of Environmental Protection,” and children called her “Environmental Protection Granny.”

Green Han River