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2021 Taiwan Sustainability Hub @ NDHU Opening Ceremony and Forum (Event Video)

Date: 26th – 27th March 2021

Venue: College of Environmental Studies, National Dong Hwa University

Taiwan Sustainability Hub @ NDHU (also known as CIRES) Opening Ceremony and Forum was a successful event. We sincerely thank the panelists and participants for their enthusiastic support to voice out for the Taiwan interdisciplinary research.

The purpose of establishing CIRES is to push forward research on the resilience of social-ecological systems in order to promote the integrated governance of society and ecosystem. So that we can solve environmental, social and economic issues under the influence of climate change. With the same vision and goals, CIRES actively involve with activities organized by MOST’s Taiwan Sustainability Hub (TSH) by becoming one of the networking members. This allows the center to connect with other academic networks in Taiwan and share knowledge along with experience.

During the event, Deputy Minister Minn-Tsong Lin from MOST delivered a keynote speech regarding the direction of science and technology with sustainability as the core value. Professor Teng-Chiu Lin from National Taiwan Normal University shared about the socio-ecological observatory establishment project by MOST. Also, we organized a two-day forum event to address the four main social-ecological issues involved in the development of ground-mounted solar panels in the Eastern Taiwan. Four key issues include forest carbon sequestration, conservation of crucial species, socio-economic impacts and the exercise of Indigenous peoples’ right of consult and consent. In-depth academic and practical conversation with academia, government and private sector, civil society and relevant stakeholders were conducted during the event.

1st Session: Assessing the Carbon Reduction Benefit of Solar Panels from Ecosystem Carbon Sequestration

Following the national goal of long-term overall energy transition and nuclear-free by 2025, renewable energy is definitely imperative. However, factors such as location and type of renewable energy need to be taken into consideration. For example, it is not a satisfactory reason to cut down trees and build solar panels just because carbon reduction capacity of solar panels is higher than that of forest carbon sequestration. The impact of solar panels on the land, environment and ecological resources and even the landscape of the intended site must be considered. In addition, solar panel facilities are considered as carbon reduction measures, but other factors must be thought thoroughly as well. Factors such as site selection, carbon depletion to the soil or vegetation from the site and carbon emission produced from the equipment transportation. Therefore, when we evaluate the benefits of solar panel in different regions, a better quantitative assessment should be conducted in the aspect of time and space with the planning conducted by ecology and engineering experts.

2nd Session: The importance of long-term ecological research in biodiversity and species conservation

Aside from long-term monitoring of specific species and areas, comprehensive species distribution data can be extremely helpful in defining vulnerable areas. Since the ecosystem is a complex adaptive system, the uncertainty of ecological survey results can be detected by collecting necessary data through modeling and simulation. Long-term ecological research should make beneficial use of these tools as a basis for decision-making. Importantly, the more data are collected, the more opportunities to assist in revising established policies in the future.

3rd Session: Discussion on the socio-economic impact of land use from the perspective of renewable energy development

Socio-environment information acquirement, understanding and assessment are time consuming in the socio-environmental assessment mechanism. Socio-environmental information about one piece of land is never enough to review its importance. Therefore, in order to obtain more information with limited knowledge, it is still necessary to rely on interviews. To understand the characteristics and importance of land, we need to rely on the knowledge and experience of local people. So, we can select a land with the least conflict to meet the needs of policies and local people. The problem encountered by the current socio-environmental assessment mechanism is that renewable energy industry expects a quick approval process. Usually, the assessment will only be conducted after the site has been planned. Therefore, it is easy to cause conflicts if issues are found later with countermeasures that are difficult to change due to cost matters. Following the 2050 net-zero carbon emissions goals, if the discussion only focuses on land matters and ignore the intertwined issues of environment, social and economic considerations, these problems will resurface after 3 to 5 years. Overall improvement and market adjustment of electrical power planning is what urgently needed now as a economic driving force to address the environmental and social conflicts.

4th Session: Renewable Energy Development and Exercise of Indigenous People's Right of Consult and Consent

The principle of the Consult and Consent mechanism is that it is up to the Indigenous Peoples to decide whether to agree or not, with free will, prior and full notice. It is not challenging for a development project to legally exercise the right of consult and consent with the current mechanism. However, it is necessary to emphasize consultation and empowerment to be justified.

What is proper and legal counseling? Government or industry operators should understand the relationship between the tribe and the land before developing the plan. Each tribe has a different connection with the land due to its historical background. This can be done with the help of academia to acquire the information the tribe wants to know about the planning. Additionally, before the project planning, communication with respect rather than any self-imposed goodwill should be done. This may create new possibilities and build partnership with the tribe.

The link to the complete live video of the forum is as follows:

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