Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 06 October 2008
Monday, 06 October 2008 23:32

Culture and Climate

The Taipei County Government’s seat is located in Banchiao, nearby Taipei City, in a big complex that oversees a giant piazza. There, on Saturday October 4th, the auditorium was filled to full capacity with members of grassroots organizations, friends of this year’s Life Sustainability Awards winners, readers of Renlai monthly, officials, entrepreneurs and graduate students.. The topic that was gathering them together: “Taiwan Culture vs. Global Warming” - an international forum organized by Renlai, Ricci Institute and the Taipei County government, in association with Wen-hsiang Foundation, the French Institute in Taipei, ROC’s Foreign Ministry and other organizations. A day of intense exchanges and debates, which had been preceded on Friday by meetings with President Ma, Governor Chou, the ministers of culture and foreign affairs, and also a formation session for the officials of the county. On Sunday 5th, the guest form afar were invited by Taipei County to cruise the Tamshui river and visit its ecological and cultural resources, as well as to reflect together on the overall strategy pursued by the county for reducing carbon emissions.

A basic fact was gathering together all participants: global warming is partly a made-man phenomenon, an acknowledgment that has caused a lasting shift in the concerns of the international community. And climate is one of the “public goods” that can be sustained only through good world governance. Nations and international organizations are still struggling for defining the methods, the institutional framework and even sometimes the set of values that need to ground an international system primarily focused on issues such as climate change.

A task of such amplitude cannot and should not be undertaken by State organizations or specialized agencies only. The awareness and creativity of civil societies are a prerequisite for making nations and people join their efforts. Cross-cultural encounters provides all of us with new approaches, new ideas, new viewpoints that facilitate consensus-building and accrued inventiveness.

Identifying and re-interpreting a set of cross-cultural resources so as to better tackle common challenges - such endeavor has been the core inspiration and concern of this colloquium. We were together testifying to the cultural, technical and economic assets that Taiwan is able to bring forth so as to take its place into this global struggle – testifying also that this can be done only in coordination with other countries, especially with Europe.

Dominique Baudis, president of the Institute for the Arab World, said at the opening of the forum: “The challenge of climate change is an opportunity for the international community - as long as it obliges us to reflect on the roots of our behavior, to consider anew our values and priorities, and finally to invent together a model of humane and sustainable development, creating new solidarity among nations, regions and cultures of the globe. The issues that we are tackling today, therefore, go beyond the groups, traditions and interests that we represent.” The contributions of Vice Governor Lee and François Bordry (former chairman of French Waterways) were a concrete expression of this conviction, as it showed us how Taiwan and Europe have been reassessing the management of their water resources over the past two decades so as to nurture their ecological, economic and touristic potential – and how these lessons can be furthered and deepened through mutual exchanges.

The afternoon forum on Taiwan and China has illuminated the positive role that Taiwan can play in this area, at a time when Europe and other countries are trying to make China commit itself to clear and compulsory objectives of emissions reduction. And a lively debate held among intellectuals, entrepreneurs and political leaders has shown to us that the self-awareness displayed by Taiwanese citizens does not turn them inwards: the sense of self-awareness and self-examination, so vivid in Taiwan, is by itself an important asset for helping other people and nations to explore their modes of behavior and go beyond the frontiers of doubt and feeling of hopelessness. The final intervention by Professor Sun Ta-chuan on the way Aboriginal culture can help Taiwan to redefine its modes of production and consumption was most inspiring in that respect: it was infused with an optimism that was in no way contrary to a realistic evaluation of the challenges that await us. The winners of this year’s “Life Sustainability Awards” are further proof that Taiwan knows how to make optimism, realism and inventiveness one and the same virtue, a virtue grounded in its historical experience and the diversity of its resources.

The eRenlai’s November Forum will illustrate through excerpts of the speeches, interviews and animations all that can be learnt form these three days of interaction. We hope this will be a lasting source of inspiration in Asia and other continents alike.

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