Taiwan's Position on Participation in the United Nations' Environmental Conventions and Activities

People of Taiwan care about the environment, and we know we share this environment with all other peoples of the world. As inhabitants of a densely populated island situated in one of the most geologically and meteorologically sensitive regions of the world, we are also keenly aware of our particular vulnerability to the many threats of accelerating global environmental change. For these reasons, we have long hoped to become a part of the global organizations built by the United Nations (UN) through its Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), so that we may contribute our skills and expertise and seek support for the management of our risks. These wishes, however, have yet to be fulfilled because of our unique political circumstances.

Change, though, is afoot. Since its election in 2008, Taiwan’s new administration has proactively engaged in a pragmatic and constructive approach both across the Taiwan Strait and around the world, and this new approach has soon brought desirable results. Earlier this year, UN member states have for the first time resolved to accept Taiwan as an official observer for the World Health Assembly (WHA). The landmark decision greatly buoyed our hopes that this positive precedent may one day bring similar advances with UNFCCC and IPCC which we have also longed to join.

 

Our Commitment to the Environment

The people of Taiwan firmly believe we deserve these favorable considerations. Over the past thirty years, we have strived to build a systematic environmental protection framework that is both enlightened and comprehensive. During this time, we have enacted and implemented 417 environmental laws and regulations including the Basic Law of the Environment, and have integrated the principles of all of UN’s environmental conventions and protocols for compliance. Plans are also now underway to elevate environmental preservation to the Ministry level in our government with full integration of environment, natural resources and global environment considerations.

Our Unique Vulnerabilities

We know the painful consequences of climate change through firsthand experiences. The typhoon Morakot which had blown through Southern Taiwan in August 2009 was an acute case in point. It brought unprecedented devastation which caused more than 700 deaths and countless other losses through the floods, landslides and other weather-related calamities as tropical storms of unprecedented intensity dumped close to three meters of rainfalls at some locations over the span of a mere three days. Many fear this was just a prelude to the things to come. As the world warms, not only will storms be sure to increase in intensity, but this island which is the only home we have will also be increasingly under the threats of sea level rises, severe heat waves, droughts and water shortages, weather-driven diseases and epidemics as well as the loss of biodiversity we find precious in species such as black-faced spoonbills and Formosan landlocked salmons, among others. Our needs to access international support and assistance have never been greater.

What We Can Contribute

People of Taiwan are always hard at work, and we believe we have a lot to contribute to the world community. From the depth of underdevelopment in the middle of the past century, we have overcome numerous challenges to build an economy that is known today for its innovations and technologies. However, the process of industrialization also brought severe pressures to our environment and ecosystems. What Taiwan has experienced and learned, both the successes and the difficulties, will likely be experienced by the many developing economies of the world that are themselves working hard to elevate their economic wellbeing. In this sense we have a lot to share with them, both in economic development and environmental management, and to help them in their journeys. We are confident we will be a very positive factor in any UN organizations we are accepted to join.

Our Request

We urge the world community to heed our request to be accepted for official participation in UNFCCC and IPCC. Our hard-earned achievements in environmental preservation and our unique vulnerabilities in the face of accelerating climate change have made it evident that Taiwan is both worthy and in need of being included. As the precedent of the World Health Assembly has clearly demonstrated, this can be done in a beneficial manner for all concerned. We need your support and urge you to give this your best considerations.