Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 985–1001 | Cite as

Ecological Citizenship and Green Burial in China

  • Chen Zeng
  • William SweetEmail author
  • Qian Cheng


In 2012, China officially declared, as a national strategy of governance, the development of ecological consciousness, the promotion of what has been called “eco-civilization,” and the development of “ecological citizens.” In this paper, we argue that the concept of green burial reflects a number of the values underlying “eco-civilization” and ecological citizenship: respect for nature, respect for humanity, and the ecologically-sensitive rational awareness of the “harmony between nature (天 = Tien) and humanity (人 = Ren), as in the saying “天人合一” Tian Ren He Yi = “Nature and human beings combine into an integral whole”). The practice of green burial can play a valuable role in promoting the construction of an eco-civilization, although many people in China—and elsewhere—may be reluctant to accept it. One reason for this may be that the concept and practice of green burial are so new that it does not yet have a place in the ecological awareness of China’s citizens, who are the main subjects of the construction of eco-civilization. In our view, it is necessary to increase citizen awareness of green burials and their value, and to encourage people to participate in the practice. This is a reflection of the values that underlie ecological citizenship, but also serves to promote these values. While our proposal in this paper is to argue for green burial as an element in realizing this model of “eco-civilization” in China, its relevance clearly extends beyond the Chinese context.


Green burial Eco-civilization Ecological citizenship Harmony 



The authors are grateful for the financial support from the National Social Science Fund (No. 13BZZ045), from the 2016 Annual Academic Innovation Program for Graduate Students in Jiangsu Province (KYLX16-0405), and from the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. AE15002_09).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public AffairsNanjing University of Science and TechnologyNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophySt Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada

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