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Taiwan News talks ESG with NCKU president

University president says integrity, resilience, patience, empathy, and impartiality crucial for ESG success

Taiwan News interviews Su Hui-chang. (Taiwan News photo)

Taiwan News interviews Su Hui-chang. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan News recently spoke with National Cheng-kung University (NCKU) President Su Huey-jen (蘇慧貞) after the school kickstarted the country’s first-ever carbon-negative pilot factory.

The factory was officially unveiled at NCKU’s Annan campus in Tainan on Sept. 24. The opening ceremony was attended by nearly 200 representatives from more than 60 companies.

Leading political dignitaries at the event included Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) and Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲).

NCKU said the factory turns carbon dioxide (CO2) into a resource for petrochemical materials and is divided into two sections: CO2 capture and purification as well as purified CO2 alkylation for reuse. The factory can transform carbon pollutants, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide into ethane, propane, methane, urea, and fixed-carbon products.

Su says that with the plant, NCKU can provide a concrete example of how these new processes work, and the data they generate can be examined. “We are able to provide an industrial-scale facility… that can respond to industry’s inquiries,” she says.

There has historically been a communication gap between academic researchers and private sector actors, but NCKU is closing the gap through projects like this, she says, adding that innovations coming from both research and industrial applications can be married to optimize this virtuous cycle of development.

The faculty find common ground between the industry and the student body and enable greater understanding and knowledge transfer between both.

The university has gone further and reoriented its sustainable plan based on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she says. A full review of the curriculum has been carried out, including learning outcomes, the processes behind them, and efforts to better align teaching with these goals so graduates can better engage in global SDG efforts in the future.

“It requires a lot of ethical commitment to build the foundation from the ground up and do scientifically sound, professionally solid work,” Su says. “Eventually it will be a... report that can be benchmarked with any international standard.”

Su believes that the university can set an example for bringing the progress made on campus to the wider community in Tainan and throughout Taiwan. “We like to do our research from the perspective that we will better humanity in some way at some time,” she says.

Asked what government and industry can do to take ESG to the next level, Su outlines a few points:

Firstly, one must be knowledgeable about the realities on the ground, she says. Secondly, we must be empathetic to every individual’s civil constraints.

When it comes to data, Su encourages higher transparency and impartiality in presentation as well as evidence-based decisions and patient communication.

She also stresses the need to set realistic goals and be resilient in execution.

Finally, real faith in the final goal of realizing a sustainable future is important, she concludes.

Updated : 2022-01-18 15:00 GMT+08:00