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Invited talk: Environmental information disclosure and public choice decisions for urban river restoration: a comparative study between Brussels (Belgium) and Guangzhou (China), Prof. Wendy Y. Chen, 2024-05-08

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30 April 2024, 11:45 AM

Speaker: Prof. Wendy Y. Chen, Professor, The University of Hong Kong

Host: Dr. Yuehan Dou

Date: 2024-05-08

Time: 11am – 12pm

Room: ES354

Title: Environmental information disclosure and public choice decisions for urban river restoration: a comparative study between Brussels (Belgium) and Guangzhou (China)


Environmental information disclosure (EID) has been widely promoted as a policy approach to establish open and transparent governments, enhance public awareness of environmental issues, and foster public participatory environmental governance. China has implemented the Environmental Information Disclosure Measures since 2008. However, whether an increased flow of environmental information could lead to favourable public participation and support for environmental/ecological restoration project remains under-investigated. And there exists very little literature which compares how EID is associated public environmental choices across different countries where the EID level varies. Taking Brussels (Belgium) and Guangzhou (China) as a comparative case study, this study investigates the association between citizens’ perceived trustworthiness of various environmental information sources and their choice decisions regarding urban river restoration initiatives in these two contrast social and political contexts. Based on the latent class modelling of two paralleled discrete choice experiments, we find similar classification of three distinctive groups, labelled as Enthusiastic Supporters (Class 1, who are insensitive to the cost and supportive of all proposed changes), Pragmatic Supporters (Class 2, who are cost-sensitive, prefer some changes they favour), and Non-Supporters (Class 3, who are unwilling to support the proposed river restoration projects). Incorporating respondents’ trustworthiness in different information sources as covariates in class membership likelihood function, it is found that respondents’ class membership is consistently associated solely with the most trusted information source, i.e., social contacts in Guangzhou and third parties in Brussels. Holding trust toward the most trusted information source can increase the probability of being an enthusiastic supporter (Class 1). On the contrary, a respondent lacking of trust toward the most trusted information source would more likely to be a member of Class 3 (non-supporter). This inter-city comparative study suggests that the EID levels (matured vs. emerging) and social/political contexts might not significantly shape citizens’ environmental decisions. Instead, respondents’ perceived trustworthiness of environmental information outlets has a positive role on their supportive choices. The results offer new insights of environmental governance and call for instilling institutional trust in China and relational trust in Belgium for facilitating effective communication and pro-environmental behaviours across the whole community.

Brief Bio: 

Professor Wendy Y. Chen received her Ph.D. degree in Physical Geography (in the field of urban forestry) from the University of Hong Kong, 2006; MSc in Natural Resource and Sustainable Development from Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, 2001; and BSc in Physical Geography from Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China, 1992.

Her research agenda has focused on key knowledge gaps in evaluating and modelling urban green-blue spaces (GBS) that are reserved, modified, and deployed in urban/peri-urban areas. She is amongst a small group of scholars who have begun to experiment and validate the utilisation of classical non-market approaches in China’s transitional context, and facilitate the quantitative assessment of GBS’ contribution to the quality of life. An additional strand of her research is dedicated to investigating GBS dynamics, pertaining to how and why GBS as public environmental goods are physically transformed, economically incorporated, and socially mobilized. Her research helps to integrate socioeconomic dimensions to enrich GBS scholarship, and rethink theories pertaining to GBS demand and supply in the context of extensive urbanization in developing countries and re-urbanization in developed world.


For online audiences: please join us with Tencent Meeting (ID: 742-1426-3711)


I look forward to seeing you there!


Best Regards,


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