My Time in Taiwan with Citizen of the Earth
I arrived in Taipei two months ago looking for experience with an environmental organization. I found Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) online and was very interested to see that they worked in a number of different areas including industrial pollution, forestry and mining as well as coastal development. I wanted to learn more about these topics and the challenges facing Taiwan and felt CET would be an excellent place to do this.
When I first started with CET I was lucky enough to attend the Non-Nuclear Asian Forum. I was able to learn a lot about the situation of nuclear power and anti-nuclear movements in Taiwan and other Asian countries. I was surprised at the extent of nuclear power in Asia and the forum made me consider this issue more deeply including the potentially serious risks of nuclear power. I was consequently more strongly motivated against it and believe it should not be part of our future. I have seen how CET works hard to promote a non-nuclear Taiwan and recently witnessed a press conference where they used creative methods, including dressing up in radiation suits, to oppose the extension of the life of the current nuclear power plants. I have also seen how at the Bow to the Land Farmers’ Market CET promotes the anti-nuclear movement through stickers, banners and flags.
Another important issue that CET is involved in is the Miramar Resort Hotel Co case. Whilst in Taitung I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful coastline and understand more clearly the threat that is the Miramar Resort. I was shocked at how close the development was to the shore and could really understand why CET was fighting against its opening. I was worried to learn that if the Miramar Resort was allowed to open this could signal a wave of developments up and down the coast. I learnt that these battles take time and saw how for many years CET together with other organizations has been working hard to oppose the Miramar Resort. I saw the importance of development being done in a correct way as to not harm the environment and the coastline.
Finally I would like to talk about what I have learnt from the Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) case that I have been assisting on. Through this work I have got to understand quite deeply the problem of industrial pollution that Taiwan faces. I have seen how CET has been fighting against the pollution of the Houjin River caused by ASE, through coordinating with 50 international NGOs from 18 countries. I have also seen how CET is also working for a change in legislation so that the factories stop continually polluting the environment. It has saddened me to see how ASE has polluted the Houjin River and the surrounding fields and fisheries. CET is coordinating with the 50
Next September 2015 I plan to study a Masters in Sustainable Development. The knowledge and awareness that I have gained, of the challenges that face Taiwan and the work that is being done to combat these challenges, is extremely valuable. It is something I will take with me through my studies and future career. I will soon be heading home back to the UK and will be sad to leave Taiwan. I am deeply grateful to the hospitality of the Taiwanese people through my stay and look forward very much to returning in the future.