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Mon, Oct 23, 2000 - Page 5 News List

EPA meets with US counterpart in Hawaii

DIPLOMACY A delegation from Taiwan's environment agency, as well as some activists, are attending a meeting with the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of a cooperation agreement set up in 1993

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmental Protection Admin-istration (EPA) officials and activists from local environmental groups yesterday left for Hawaii to attend bilateral talks, which begin today, with their counterparts in the US.

Having only been appointed in May, this is EPA Administrator Lin Jun-yi's (林俊義) first time to attend the annual international meeting held between Taiwan's environmental administration and the US' Environmental Protection Agency.

The meeting is being held under an environmental protection and cooperation agreement that was signed between the two countries in June 1993.

This is also the first time environmentalists have accompanied EPA officials on an official international visit.

Lin's decision to include environmentalists is regarded as a reflection of the DPP government's strategy to explore the frontiers of environmental diplomacy.

Based on the cooperative agreement, the US environmental agency has entrusted Taiwan's EPA with plans for carrying out several programs, including waste management, water resource management and an energy conservation plan known as the "Energy Star" certifications.

According to the environmental agency, topics to be discussed at the meeting include technologies for pollution prevention and strategies for sustainable development.

At the meeting, Taiwan's environmental officials will meet with US counterparts from several governmental agencies, including environmental and health departments, at both the state and local levels.

In addition, agency officials said that mechanisms for public participation in policy decision-making processes would be discussed.

Lin, an active environmentalist in Taiwan since the 1980s, invited representatives from grassroots groups to join the official visit for the first time.

"The cooperation between Taiwan and the US in dealing with environmental issues should be expanded from official exchanges to the participation of non-governmental organizations," Lin said before heading for the US yesterday.

At the four-day bilateral talks, Taiwanese environmentalists Dr Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) from the New Environment Foundation (新環境基金會) and Dr Chi Shu-ing (齊淑英) from the Ecology Conservation Alliance (生態保育聯盟) will exchange opinions with their counterparts from groups in the US, including the Sierra Club, the East-West Center and the Hawaii-based Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund.

Lin said that non-governmental organizations have played a key role in helping the government to formulate and practice environmental policies.

Lin took the WTO as an example and blamed the failure of the WTO annual meeting held in Seattle to establish links with NGOs at their meeting last year for the aggressive demonstrations carried out by some environmental groups.

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