ROC, US laud results of environmental program
Officials from Taiwan and the United States lauded the achievements of the International Environmental Partnership (IEP) program at an exhibition in Taipei on Earth Day Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the joint initiative.
The exhibition was co-organized by Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to chronicle the program’s progress over the past year.
Taiwan and the U.S. have cooperated on environmental protection since signing an agreement in 1993 on technical cooperation in environmental fields, said Wei Kuo-yen, head of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration, at the opening of the show.
For the past 21 years, the Taiwan-U.S. relationship on environmental issues has focused on bilateral cooperation, he said, and the IEP has helped extend that cooperation to regional efforts.
“We all know that environmental pollution transcends national boundaries and the problems cannot be solved by a single country,” Wei said, adding that only by joint efforts by other countries can the problems be effectively resolved.
“That was why the IEP was launched last year,” he said.
Over the past year, 17 activities have been conducted with the participation of 28 countries, Wei said of the achievements under the IEP that spanned air quality, mercury monitoring, environmental education, and the recycling of electronic waste, he added.
The IEP was launched during an April 2014 visit to Taiwan by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, the highest-level U.S. Cabinet official to visit Taiwan in about 14 years.
The program is aimed at having the U.S. and Taiwan share their environmental expertise with partners in the Asia-Pacific region and other regions of the globe.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Acting Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs Jane Nishida attended Wednesday’s event on behalf of McCarthy, and lauded the IEP’s achievements.
Detailing the progress of the IEP, Nishida pointed out a mercury monitoring project that has included several countries in the Asia-Pacific region to monitor the flow of mercury, which affects children and women of a childbearing age.
“Through IEP, Taiwan EPA has been on the frontline of this effort by coordinating with partners in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea and Japan so that we can begin monitoring mercury in the region for the first time,” she said.
This cooperation will give a better picture of mercury pollution in the Asia-Pacific region, she said.
Countries such as Thailand and Vietnam are now sending their rainwater samples to National Central University in Taiwan for testing, she noted.
Another focus of the IEP is e-waste management. With the growing popularity of smartphones and proliferation of new models of cellphones, dealing with discarded cellphones has become a global environmental challenge, she said.
“Nearly 20 countries have joined the E-Waste partnership. This network has grown beyond the AsiaPacific region to include partners in Ghana and Nigeria in Africa and Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia in Latin America,” Nishida said.
“Through the program, agencies exchange approaches to managing discarded electronic waste so that they are more safely disposed of,” she said.
Under the IEP, Taiwan has been sharing its experience in recycling electronic waste and turning it into valuable products, according to Wei.
Other projects under the IEP include the Cities Clean Air Partnership initiative that has brought together 10 cities around the world, including three from Taiwan, she said.