The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPAT) recently awarded the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) a three-year grant under their joint International Environmental Program Partnership. In the first year of the grant, the NWF established the USA-Taiwan Eco-Campus Partnership Program for collaborative environmental education and increasing intercultural understanding between the two nations. Through a mutual online platform, 36 American schools are partnering with 36 Taiwanese schools to exchange ideas concerning sustainable practices. By the end of 2015, 24 additional pairs of schools will join the Eco-Campus Partnership Program. Each school will be able to choose from ten thematic environmental focus areas, including topics such as water, biodiversity, energy, transportation, and consumption and waste. This program will include approximately 1,250 students in its first year.
One of the pairs of schools involved in the program includes North Chevy Chase Elementary School in Maryland and Nanhua Elementary School in Tainan, Taiwan, which have chosen to collaborate on recycling projects. At the official launch event near Washington, DC this past March, 250 people were in attendance including Ambassador Lyushun Shen of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office and EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs Jane Nishida.
Other schools involved in the Eco-Campus Partnership Program are Ben Franklin Elementary School in New Jersey and Jian-An Elementary School in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Principal Chris Turnbull went with an EPA delegation to visit Taiwan in 2011, and since then, his school has partnered with Jian-An to share information on three of the pathways: energy, consumption and waste, and sustainable communities. This partnership has been a model for ten New Jersey schools to enter Eco-Campus Partnerships with Taiwanese counterparts. The Eco-Campus Partnership Program is also being piloted in Houston, Texas; Broward County, Florida; New York City, New York; and Ventura County, California.
In addition to the International Environmental Program Partnership creating robust environmental education partnership programs, the EPA and EPAT have collaborated on 190 other environmental projects. This partnership has helped Taiwan reduce its carbon emissions, as well as improving US waste management and recycling practices, as well as other benefits to both.
Nina Geller is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a recent graduate of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.