Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am most honored to participate in the workshop you are holding today on the eve of the international conference on “Taiwan culture vs. global warming.” I am fully conscious of the importance of our meeting: it shows that, as elected officials and public servants, you do not want to remain at the level of general declarations and public relations events; you really wish to translate environmental awareness into public policies and well-conceived, innovative projects. In order to do so, you are indeed encouraging cross-cultural initiatives and international cooperation, especially with Europe. As chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, your invitation is for me an encouragement, and it acts also as a reminder: International companies tend to work primarily with ministries and other national agencies. They may sometimes forget that Taiwan is also home to a vibrant local democracy, and that the counties, cities and townships are the primary movers when it comes to infrastructures, to citizens’ education and, to designing the face of Taiwan for the decades to come. This is especially true for Taipei County, home to more than 3,700,000 inhabitants, the most populated area in Taiwan, and certainly one of the most engaged into sustainable development and innovative planning.

My talk will be divided into two parts: First, a word about Taiwan and EU relationships in the light of the challenge created by global warming and, more generally, by the shift towards a more sustainable model of development. Then, I will concentrate on the implications of this cultural shift when it comes to partnership between the public and the private sector.

Global Warming, the EU and Taiwan

A solid body of evidences shows that climate changes are somehow related to human activities, that some of these changes may have dangerous implications in not too distant a future, and that we are able indeed to mitigate part of this trend of its undesirable effects. This pleads for a renewed model of global governance, in which Taiwan, rich of its technological and cultural traditions, is called and entitled to play an active role.

The Copenhagen Convention on Climate Change that will take place in November 2009 will gather the international community to agree on a new blueprint that will enlarge the agreements already reached at Kyoto and through various international treaties and conventions. The European Union and its member states will take leading positions at the Conference to produce an international commitment which hopefully will also include the commitments from the USA and China for drastic reductions in greenhouse gases that are indeed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

However, the European Union has not been waiting for a new conference to take place in Copenhagen or anywhere else to play a leading role in fostering a more pro-active policy against global warming. Europe is today the world leader in renewable energy. The development of renewable energy - particularly energy from wind, water, solar power and biomass - is a central aim of the European Commission’s energy policy. As part of Kyoto-protocol efforts to curb carbon emissions, the European Commission has pledged that renewable sources will make up 22% of Europe’s energy supply by the end of this decade, up from 14% in 1997.

In the area of greenhouse gas emissions, the EU has set the most ambitious targets in the world. The EU will reduce its energy consumption by 20% before 2020. Furthermore, the EU is offering to take even bolder steps and cut its emission by 30% if other countries join in this ambition. The policies designed for reaching these goals go through a mix of regulatory caps on emissions, caps that are progressively toughened, research for alternative and renewable sources of energy, and the implementation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, a market-based instrument aimed at curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
As examples of successful implementation of the European Commission energy policy, Denmark is flanked by some 5400 wind turbines, supplying 28% of its electricity. Renewable sources of energy installed throughout Germany now produce nearly 14% of German electricity consumption up from 6.3 percent in 2000. It is worth mentioning that another major country in Europe, France, which is the world second largest producer of nuclear energy, is also the European Union’s leading producer of renewable energies.

Taiwan is not yet at the forefront of this battle against global warming and for a cleaner and greener world. Many statistical data’s remain preoccupying, in particular those that underline the fact that Taiwan has been the world champion when it comes to the growth of carbon dioxide emissions per capita during the last decade. However, we also have noticed that Taiwan, thanks to the vitality of its democratic debate, is not deceiving itself and is now conscious that it still has a long road to go in order not to waste energy, not to further abuse its natural resources and wants now to mobilize its whole society towards the global endeavor of sustainability. Taiwan is not yet considered as a model sustainable country, there are good reasons for it, but the most important thing is that it does intend to follow that road of redemption, and to make its commitment a landmark of its international strategy.

If all this is translated into concrete initiatives, Taiwan is sure to win the mind and hearts of the European countries, especially at a time when the EU, citizens and governments alike, are particularly anxious to know whether China will or will not take its share of the global struggle against global warming. Furthermore, collaborating with Europe on this issue is “good business” for Taiwan: first, it is clear that Europe will progressively edict a stringent set of “environmental norms” that will gravely affect the exports of the nations that would not comply with it; the recent failure of the Doha cycle testifies to the fact that the present structures of the WTO will be unable to stop this trend towards greater environmental accountability; second, global governance on climatic issues allows for a flexible frameworks of international instruments, a framework into which Taiwan might find a renewed international status and mission.

Public and Private Partnership

The international conference that will be held tomorrow establishes a strong link between cultural resources and the struggle against global warming, and it is right to emphasize such a link. From the perspective which is mine - the one of a European entrepreneur - nothing testifies more to this link than the development of a culture of “corporate social responsibility.” European companies have progressively learnt to consider themselves as “responsible corporate citizens”, understanding that such a status does not infringe on their economic mission and the laws of the market but rather ensures that the long-term interests of the collectivity, including theirs, are accounted for and play a regulatory role for discouraging reckless business conducts.
In this perspective, sustainability as a whole, including the imperatives created by the consciousness of the risks linked to global warming, are now incorporated into the strategy of a vast number of European companies. For sure, this also comes from the fact that many of them enjoy a comparative advantage in the domain of “green business” – water sanitation and urban sewage, organic food, ethical investment portfolios, ecotourism, green building materials and design, as well as indeed renewable energy production. Many companies that did not have a “sustainable” or “green’ business per se are now reformatting themselves in order to make their products and practices congruent with the common good.
What is true of Europe could be true as well of Taiwan. After all, the comparative advantage of Taiwan in IT can easily make it the world leader of “green IT technologies”, a paramount sector for the struggle against global warming as it is linked to energy, water and rare resources consumption.
Once it is clearly established that private companies in Taiwan are able and indeed want to play the role of positive and innovative actors in the struggle for a sustainable world, a world that tackles the climate challenge and other related questions, then the cooperation between the public and the private sector becomes much easier, for the benefit of all parties concerned.

However, this cooperative model still needs to be nurtured and enlarged in Taiwan – as an example, the position papers of ECCT frequently emphasize the fact that the management of public contracts in Taiwan still raises serious problems, many of them impeding Taiwan’s imperative of sustainability. Let me quote here a few issues and proposals raised by the Chamber in our recent position papers:

- Laws and regulations often hinder European companies from getting full market access; long outstanding WTO compliance issues remain unresolved such as Taiwan’s accession to the Government Procurement Agreement; the upgrading of key service sectors – in particular logistics and tourism – lacks the bold moves necessary to attract foreign participation. (On a personal note, I think that foreign expertise is absolutely necessary for transforming Taiwan’s tourism market, making it eco-friendly, efficient, attractive for tourists from China and elsewhere, and managed at a scale congruent with good business practices.)

- The national and local governments should also develop and implement a global marketing campaign to highlight Taiwan’s advantages and development potential (e.g. talent pool, education, healthcare, tourism, protection of the environment).

- Outsourcing government services to the private sector, including such services as administration, inspections, and maintenance, would greatly improve energy efficiency, environmental expertise and economies of scale.

- Even more important, the national and local governments should introduce a financially feasible tariff system to create a sizable local market for solar panels. Similarly, geothermal resources in Taiwan are plentiful; hence, the government should actively support the development of geothermal power generation through pilot projects and the mapping of Taiwan’s geothermal resources (through cooperation between local and European universities). The authorities should also re-evaluate plans for the future development of a local wind energy technology sector after unsuccessful projects in recent years. Also (even if I recognize that this issue is controversial), biofuel and biodiesel development would support local farmers and utilize contaminated farm land for the cultivation of energy crops.

- Stricter building codes and energy saving regulations would create more opportunities for the application of renewable energy in building design.

- A market based system for pricing electricity would encourage its efficient use and stimulate investment in renewable and, possibly, nuclear energy.

- Speaking on a broader scale, the government as well as the counties authorities should significantly increase the participation of the private sector in the planning and execution of infrastructure projects which, if successful, will greatly improve the creativity, quality, and cost efficiency of public infrastructure projects.

I hope to have shown that a Europe - Taiwan partnership between public and private sectors fosters indeed the cultural, technical and social inventiveness that will help Taiwan to become a leading country in the ongoing struggle against global warming and for rooting a long-term, sustainable economic model. Let me emphasize once again that local governments are key actors on this endeavor. Making its experience internationally known and continuing to learn from European experiences will help Taipei County to become a beacon of environmental planning and an innovative cultural haven. Rest assure that European companies present in Taiwan have a strong commitment to this market and intend to collaborate with Taiwan’s private and public sector so as to make the best of the cultural and ecological resources of this beautiful island and of its metropolis.
I am assured that these two days of encounters and debates will help all of us to understand better and imagine the common future that we are called to build together.

Philippe Pellegrin
CEO of CALYON Taipei Branch
Banchiao, October 3, 2008

(extract from the speech given by B.V. during the colloquium on Cultural resources against Global Warming. oct 4, 2008, Taipei)

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IV- The international position

- Efforts by China to become a player in global governance, including in the environmental field, should not be underestimated. The country has signed more than fifty international conventions and treaties related to environmental protection and natural resources. The review of implementation by China of the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, has shown gradual compliance by China to the Protocol and its willingness to fulfill its contractual obligations (it had completed in 1999 the targets set for 2002), but also conflicts of interest adversely affecting its ability to act. China is also aware of the strategic role played by NGOs in environmental diplomacy.
- However, China implicitly refuses to engage positively in the management of environmental resources, contributing to the unbridled exploitation of tropical forests of Southeast Asia or hydro-electric resources in the Amazon Basin.
- China’s position in international forums is constant: national responsibilities in this area are "common but differentiated"; climate change and sustainable development must be thought as a whole; technology transfer play a key role in meet the climate challenge; the "Clean Development Mechanism" and other similar programs should be continued and encouraged.

V – International Margin of Action

China may moderate its demands but will hardly abandon its basic positions. However, a change in the level of quotas could be acceptable to China, with a passage to a non-binding commitment level higher and stronger. China would probably limit international agreements with a regime that would facilitate practical cooperation projects and would thus releasing funds for promoting research and development in the field of new energies and to introduce renewable energy. At present, external pressures as influential as they are, are still weaker than internal resistance.
However, Hu Angang, an renowned economics professor at Tsinghua University, advisor to the government on environmental and social issues, has publicly called for China to accept to be bound by an international pact to reduce emissions. He acknowledged that his point of view remains in the minority but emphasizes the seriousness of the problems encountered by China. It envisages a sharp increase in Chinese emissions until 2020, but feels that implementation of drastic reductions in the following decade is quite feasible, so that Chinese emissions may go down to their 1990 level by 2030, and be reduced again by half over the next twenty years. China, he insists, will be the first victim of climate change, and has a strong economic and diplomatic interest to transform itself into a "green power.”
China therefore has the potential to play a positive international role, if it dares to tackle the speculative and risky nature of its present model of development. It will thus contribute to a better management of "global public goods". Making the turn towards sustainable development is without doubt the best way to assert its global contribution. Yet the Chinese response seems hesitant, often contradictory. Because the debate on its own model of governance remains severely limited, China finds it difficult to play a more active role in reforming global governance.
For now, we can just bet that China will carry out its ecological reform at its own pace but that it still refuses to be bound by a priori international agreements. The Chinese reticence should not block the commitments of other partners: Global governance, when it comes to climate change, must be one of "variable geometry" rather than based on the principle of "everything or nothing." In other words, the WTO model, (based on the search for consensus without offering viable alternative if unanimity is not achieved), model strongly challenged in recent months with the failure of the Doha Round, is not directly exportable in the field of environmental diplomacy.
It remains possible that, faced with bold initiatives of other nations, starting with the ones that the European Union must take in any case, China decided to take on the role it says to be aspiring to. In other words, the best way to engage China in world climate governance is perhaps to start without waiting that China finally decides to join global initiatives...
For me, winning one of the Life Sustainability Award is not only a surprising encouragement, but also a precious chance to promote our ideas.

More than 10 years ago, I left my former job as a journalist reporting environmental news and went back to my hometown to serve in the social movement against the construction of the Southern Coast Industrial Area. Then I moved from the movements of environmental protection to that of the community college. Also in recent years, I joined the community college in an agricultural village and took part in the Sand Protection Act which is related to the development of the agricultural villages and coastal changes. Through all these years, now I think I should pay more attention to the way of attracting more people to the fishing villages and making them recognize and explore the environment of Taiwan, thus understanding better the problems of global coastal environment.

During the end of the year 1998, I served as the Chief Secretary in the first community college in Taiwan, Wenshan community college, and I promoted life-long education, civil education, and community education, with the slogan “Liberating Knowledge; Building Civil Society”.

In order to fight against the improper grand-sized industrial development in the coastal wetland area, I joined the Wetland Protection Alliance and we helped people to develop ecological tours in their fishing villages; we were glad to see the development projects suspended. However, the coast of Qi-gu town in Tainan County is facing an even more severe crisis: throughout this decade, the coast line has receded 280 meters. In order to let more people participate and help in the protection of the coast, I worked with the Qi-gu Coast Protection Association in Bei-men Community College and promoted “working holidays” to attract more volunteers from outside and let them work as Sand Protection Volunteers in the aging and depopulated fishing villages. We expect that the visitors of Qi-gu can all participate in environmental protection jobs as “Planting in Spring; Inspecting in Summer; Fixing the sand by sticking bamboo at the coast in Autumn and Winter.” So they can develop a friendly attitude to the fishermen’s society.

Throughout this decade, I work either in environmental protection organizations or in the community colleges. The core theme I care about is the life quality of people. I believe that people will develop an environment-friendly way of living through the recognition of the importance of Nature to our life sustainability.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:30

The Dentist Who Walks in Wilderness

Before, when we were promoting environmental protection movements, we resorted to the moral proclamation of ‘For the sake of our children.’ What we couldn’t foresee was that within these few years, the mass growth of world population and the combination of global economy and technology has induced the over-consuming of natural resources. For the time being, the crisis that the earth is facing no longer exists in a somewhat distant future, but will very likely confront our own and the next generations.

I always felt that the main target of environmental protection is not the environment, but people’s minds. What I really want to do is to change people’s minds. I hope that people will get involved with environmental protection not only at the level of knowing and understanding, but also at the level of actual practices.

We are racing with time every day. We wish more and more people could become aware and start to take some action. We believe that where there is a will, there is a way. What the crowd thinks impossible, we will make it real. We also believe that one can be enormously influential because of the power of dream and belief.
The Society of Wilderness

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:25

How to turn the desert into a sea of flowers

Many people often ask us with a tone of pity why we are planting trees in the desert! The reason is very simple. Environmental concern is not only about planting trees, it needs plans and organization, it needs to be sustainably developed from culture and environment, authentic environmental concern has also to be implemented in the hardest areas.
Some people think that the desert is too far away from us, that the tragedy of LouLan’s disappearance could never happen to us. But nature has already begun to take revenge and no one will be able to escape it! Only culture can make people know the importance of their environment, so as to make them change their immature behavior.

Life is so brief. And we shall leave this world in utter destitution. Although we do not know whether we can achieve our dreams, we will still be able to say proudly: ‘I have already lived for myself!’
New Loulan Project

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:22

Dancing a Life that Can be Sustained

What does a man carry in his life? What’s the purpose of life? What can a man leave after him when he dies? These are the questions I often ask myself when working in the “Yuan Dancers”.
I have gotten used to the “sacred” body perception of the state of dancing and chanting in the aboriginal ritual. When I have to get back on the “human” state of body perception, it means to enter a process of self-reflection. In rehearsal, “self inspection” is a mental exercise that I usually take.

The moment of performing is a kind of memory and also a self-awakening. Every era has its own heavy cultural burden. The historical wound that remains from the aboriginal history in every rehearsal strikes my mind. Therefore I often ask myself: “Is it really me who is suffering from the pain? Or is it somebody else?” Several times, my senses became apathetic, just like what Emily Dickinson described, ‘After a huge pain, follows a feeling of desert. The nerves sit still as a grave. The numb heart inquires: is it him who suffers from pain? Is it yesterday? Or centuries ago?’

I kept wondering, what has made my spirit recover? Tagore once said, ‘Make me your wine cup. Let my filled cup be offered to you and to the ones who belong to you.” Then, what is filling the cup? That is something which we always forgot; that is “Love”. The love, like the one of Gao Yi-sheng from the Zou ethnic group in A-li Mountain, is expressed in his letters and songs, an unselfish love for his land, his ethnic group, his family. Therefore, we only hope to “become your wine cup, offered to you.”

People are always nostalgic about things past. If it were not for the threat of death, people wouldn’t cherish nor reflect on themselves, and there wouldn’t be the so-called “Existence’ question. However, no matter how we explain Love, we cannot interpret nor experience the essence of Love. Love can be measured only by itself. We should better open up out mind and let go the feeling of love. So that we’ll know how long and wide love is.
What does a man carry in his life? What’s the purpose of life? What can a man leave after him when he dies? I think that is ‘Love’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Faith’.
Yuan Dancers website

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Wednesday, 22 October 2008 19:21

Hope of Tribes Lies in Children

One day, I got a phone call from Renlai Magazine, saying that I have won an award. I was a little astounded; I hung up the phone in a hurry, and continued to communicate with a parent about his child’s census registration problem. This kind of special situation makes me feel sad and bewildered. I don’t know whether it is good for the child to be sent out of his family.

I came to the aboriginal tribes 13 years ago, I was a child from a quite wealthy family, but the experience of living in the tribes has made me realize that it is true that there are two different worlds on one Taiwan Island. There is still poverty on this land of Taiwan.
People often ask me, “Yao-sung, how can you devote yourself so much to the work in the tribes?” I don’t think much and say, “Should there be poverty, it shouldn’t be in the tribe; should someone suffer, it shouldn’t be the children.” Since I came to the tribes when I was in first year of university, I was sorry to see that the schools were so far away from the tribe and the aboriginal families were so poor. How can the children have their rights to receive education? Why wasn’t there any kindergarten here? Many questions remained from that time, and I have had the idea of setting up a kindergarten from then on. This dream has come true in the recent years, since a typhoon brought me back to work in the mountains. I found that as long as I see the vision and hang onto it, God will hear my voice and give me many presents I would never have thought about.

Many young people often ask me, “Isn’t it hard to work in the mountains? How can you stand physical and mental exhaustion with such a small salary?” My answer lately is that I’m in charge of two kindergartens in the aborigine areas and I also have a guidance job for the drop-outs in Jian-shi junior high school. I found that I have gained many children and these children have gotten a new friend and someone like a father. The smile on their faces has taken away my pressure from the job. I just hope that these children who have been hurt since childhood can become happier and recover from their wounds through my sharing and feedback. In the end I hope they can also help the others in need.

I often witness human pain because of my job. But gradually I found that I have a more accurate sense and sympathy. This is really an extraordinary force and it can bring more tenacity to people around. I am glad and I hope that Taiwanese society can show more respect for the efforts and for the people of strong vitality. May there be more sunshine, may people become happier, so that the pain will lessen. I sincerely invite everybody to be concerned about the aboriginal children.

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