The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (the Foundation) brought environmental public-interest litigation against the company Ruitai for allegedly discharging excessive waste water into an evaporation pool, causing serious pollution to the Tengger Desert. The court of first instance and appeals court both found that the Foundation did not have standing to sue. The Supreme People’s Court applied a three-part test for public-interest litigation and determined that the Foundation does have standing to sue.
What elements must be satisfied for a social organization to bring environmental public-interest litigation: the assessment shall focus on three aspects (1) if the organization’s purpose and business scope include safeguarding the environmental interest of the public; (2) whether the organization actually engages in public-interest activities of environmental protection; (3) whether the environmental interest of the public in the present case is relevant to its purpose and business scope. While the Foundation’s charter does not include the explicit language of “public-interest activities of environmental protection,” a broader interpretation of the Foundation’s charter and activities, which include the promotion of green development and biodiversity, confirm that the Foundation satisfies the criteria and has standing to bring the present case.