View of Taipei City at sunset from Elephant Mountain located in Taipei. [Image: Heikki Holstilla / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]

Sustainable Collaboration Between the United States and Taiwan

Taiwan Asia

On September 29, 2021, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JETA) co-hosted a virtual workshop entitled “Building Resilience and Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through Technology.” The workshop was hosted through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF). In 2015, Taiwan and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to establish GCTF. It serves as a platform for Taiwan to share expertise with partners around the world. Since implementation, the GCTF has held 40 international workshops with experts from 99 countries.

Workshop speakers included AIT Deputy Director, Jeremy Cornforth; Deputy to the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeffery Prescott; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu; Chief Representative Izumi Hiroyasu; and TECO Director-General in New York, James Lee. Deputy Director Jeremy Cornforth, the opening speaker, noted how Taiwan’s expertise in technology is important for global problem solving. He went on to say "Taiwan has demonstrated time and again that it is a reliable partner and force for good in the world”. GCTF has also hosted similar workshops on collaborative ways to make the future more sustainable and to better implement the SDGs.

The workshop highlighted how Taiwan is ready to contribute scientific and technological talent for collective action on working towards the SDGs. As one of the most important Information and Communication Technology (ICT) markets in the world, Taiwan is committed to using its platform for public welfare. This includes its global semiconductor ecosystem and cutting-edge emerging technologies such as the 5G-ORAN (Open Radio Access Network) and artificial intelligence.

In 2015 the United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that created global targets in addressing key issues in the economy, society, and environment. These goals are a common language and a framework for working towards solving global problems. Taiwan has demonstrated tremendous interest in the SDGs. As an island with a high population density, limited natural resources, and adverse weather, Taiwan found it essential to develop a plan for the future. In 2016, Taiwan’s National Council of Sustainable Development (NCSD) adopted the SDG framework and localized it to fit Taiwan’s specific conditions—renaming it “T-SDG”, with the “T” standing for Taiwan. T-SDG specific targets include, increasing solar electricity and imposing stricter emission controls, establishing a carbon negative factory, and setting a goal for net zero emission by 2050.

The GCTF workshop is not the first dialogue on sustainable development between the United States and Taiwan. Previous examples of collaboration have taken various forms. This includes a bilateral workshop on climate change and education with the US; the partnership between the United States' Environmental Protection Agency, Taiwan’s Environment Protection Administration, and the North American Association for Environmental Education known as the Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP); and foreign direct investment in technology. Given Taiwan’s openness towards collaboration, and Biden’s new policy on public health and climate change, there are further opportunities for the United States and Taiwan to work together.

Shannon Wells is a participant of the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a first-year Master's of International Studies student at North Carolina State University.