TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan NextGen Foundation CEO Chen Kuan-ting (陳冠廷) has called for the country to advance international cooperation on environmental governance and expand the "Taiwan model."
In an opinion piece published Thursday (Oct. 22), Chen called on environmental activists and policymakers to think about ocean waste in the larger context of Taiwan’s geopolitical circumstances. “In my own experience, a large proportion of plastic waste collected during those events comes from China — with many of the objects featuring simplified Chinese script,” he says.
Chen says that while Taiwan should focus on the pollution within its borders, environmental degradation, especially of marine environments, is a transnational phenomenon that cannot be separated from global politics. A 2017 study by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research showed about 90 percent of all the single-use plastic that pollutes the world’s oceans comes from just 10 rivers, six of which are in China.
Chen added that though China is incrementally improving its plastic pollution in major cities, the superpower often utilizes environmental statecraft and disregards its negative actions in other countries. These include sand dredging, dam building, and weather modification projects that have disturbed the ecological balance in neighboring countries.
By contrast, Chen believes, Taiwan can provide a credible alternative and promote a more inclusive vision of environmental governance for the region.
“Now is the right time for Taiwan to enhance its international partnerships aimed at fostering an equitable, inclusive and progressive framework for managing environmental concerns in the region and beyond,” he says.
He said the country should capitalize on the momentum it gained from the success of the ‘Taiwan model’ for combating disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. This should be expanded to offer global solutions against environmental pollution and the proliferation of microplastics and nanoplastics in particular.