Diplomatic success does not necessarily correspond to the amount of money spent, and with “environmental diplomacy” Taiwan can shine on the international stage with a small budget, a number of local environmental groups said yesterday.
Earlier this month, 22 environmentalists represented Taiwan at the Global Greens (GG) 2008 conference in Brazil, a “UN for green organizations,” which drew representatives from 87 countries, Green Party Taiwan (GPT) secretary-general Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said.
The group was partially funded by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Deputy Minister Chang Feng-teng (張豐藤) said, adding that the decision to sponsor the group was “one of the most meaningful things I have done since I have been in office.”
“Under oppression from China and control from the US, Taiwan’s space for survival in the international community is very limited, however we were able to attend the conference with full membership, a status that even China did not enjoy at GG 2008,” Pan said.
Instead of obsessing over the number of international allies and “dollar diplomacy,” the success of Taiwan’s international future lies in human rights and environmental diplomacy, Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association director Robin Winkler said.
Using full membership, the representative group participated in environmental discussions, voted on green effort proposals, introduced to GG 2008’s other participating countries the political and environmental status of Taiwan, and showcased current environmental efforts with presentations of case studies, Pan said.
One of the representative group’s biggest accomplishments was its initiation of an anti-nuclear effort proposal, he said.
“During the meeting, three proposals were discussed and voted on, including support for human rights in Tibet, eliminating nuclear energy as an option to combat climate change and the request to immediately release kidnapped Colombian Green Party spiritual leader Ingrid Betancourt,” he said.
“Not only did we vote on the former two proposals, which concerned Taiwan, we initiated the anti-nuclear pitch with Japan, and received unanimous consensus from all 87 countries,” he said.
Such proposals give participating countries an idea of environmental trends in other areas in the world, and are brought back to their respective governments for references in forming related political strategies, he said.
In addition, “During the Global Young Greens (GYG) meeting, our youth representatives presented a case study of their anti-Suhua Freeway efforts,” he said.
“The presentation was one of the most well-prepared at GYG and won them thundering applause at the conference, which was another example that, with devotion, NGOs can help Taiwan shine internationally with little money,” he said.
Following the success of the conference, the group plans to campaign to host the Asia Pacific Greens Network meeting next year, Pan said.
“Even in an age where technological advancement seems to connect people around the globe more tightly, such face-to-face interactions and discussions cannot be replaced by artificial meetings,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said.
Friendly relationships have developed during Taiwan’s participation in such international events and could eventually transform into friendly relationships for the country with other nations, she said.
“Even China cannot disagree with us on environmental diplomacy; with universal values such as human rights and environmental protection, the road we travel on — no matter how few companions we have in the beginning — is bound to connect us with more and more allies,” she said.
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