The EPA-revised National Environmental Protection Plan was approved by the Executive Yuan on 24 February 2020. Since the Plan’s enactment in 2008, there have been major environmental changes in Taiwan and new environmental trends in the world and, accordingly, the Plan has gone through many reviews, revisions and renewals. Throughout these years, the Plan has aligned with the principles of its 2008 version in its efforts to reach the original goals. The latest version came to fruition after numerous discussions among experts, scholars, local governments, and civil organizations. Closely linked to the UN’s Agenda 2030, the revision designates 2030 as the next stage for long-term goals and sets clear and meaningful goals.
The following are the major points of the National Environmental Protection Plan’s origins:
1. Realizing the protection of national environments, ensured by the Constitution, and implementing the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法) to achieve environmental protections and facilitate welfare for all civilians
The Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China (憲法增修條文) mentions that "environmental and ecological protection shall be given equal consideration with economic and technological development." And Article 7 of the Basic Environmental Act states that “the central competent authority shall draft environmental protection laws and regulations, draw up national environmental protection plans, establish sustainable development indicators and promote and implement such laws and regulations, plans and indicators.” Accordingly, the EPA aims to follow the core of the Basic Environmental Act so that the full effects of the Act can be realized. Under the framework of the Basic Environmental Act, the National Environmental Protection Plan is an upper-tier plan in the national environmental governance, serving as the basis for the formation of all regulations regarding environmental protection as well as all relevant plans at the local level.
- Reviewing Taiwan’s key environmental issues, designing national environmental visions setting goals, and planning environmental strategies
Key environmental challenges confronting Taiwan include impacts from climate change, loss of water and soil resources, deterioration of ecological environments, and environmental risks to human health. The EPA has been planning national strategies in environmental protection with an approach that encompasses climate change, ecological environments, natural resources, environmental quality, development of green industries and technologies, and environment-friendly lifestyles. The ultimate goal is to create a healthy, beautiful and prosperous living environment that is full of innovations and coexists harmoniously with nature.
3. Strengthening connection to the international community and pursuing sustainable development
In the international community, the concepts of “sustainable development” and “think globally, act locally” were elaborated in Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, both of which fully display new ways of thinking and new directions for humankind in terms of sustainable development. In 2015, the UN announced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, evaluating the results of global efforts in sustainable development as well as bringing forth goals for the coming 15 years. The 2030 Agenda expanded the previous three aspects of environment, economy, and society to what is called the 5Ps, which are planet, people, prosperity, peace, and partnership. It strives to protect the Earth’s resources, eradicate poverty, facilitate prosperous and co-existing development, build a peaceful society, and establish global partnership. Meanwhile, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were proposed at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Develop, also called Rio+20. The SDGs present a thinking of sustainable economy, advocating collaborations across different countries and ministries and responses adaptive to environmental changes. As a member of the global community, Taiwan endeavors to achieve sustainable development in order to adapt to the global environmental problems and keep up with international environmental strategies in a new era.
In conclusion, the National Environmental Protection Plan has been put in place because of the ideas above and as required by the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China and the Basic Environment Act, and now serves as reference for all local governments in the formulation of their respective local environmental protection plans.
Strategies and goals
The National Environmental Protection Plan, approved by the Executive Yuan on 14 February 2020, centers around environmental resources and aligns with the United Nation's 2030 Agenda. The formulation of the Plan took into consideration of both domestic and international trends and critical issues in environmental protection and then set up short-, mid-, and long-term strategies and goals. It covers 13 key environmental issues and five categories, which are climate actions, environmental quality, nature conservation, green economy, and sustainable partnership.
Each department proposes measures based on the Plan's strategies. There is a total of 374 measures in 2020, 343 in 2021, and 287 for the year 2022.
Compilation of environmental white papers and disclosure of implementation results
- Collection of background baseline information about environmental issues
The implementation of the National Environmental Protection Plan is set from 2020 to 2030. To establish a database on environmental background information before the Plan took off, budget, key performance indices, and other data related to the chosen environmental issues in the previous four years (from 2016 to 2019) were compiled as benchmarks for the future evaluations of result changes and trends.
- Implementation results disclosed in environmental white paper
The EPA conducts annual evaluations and compiles results of the National Environmental Protection Plan in its environmental white papers, which are published regularly to disclose the current status of each environmental indicator. The papers show that, by the end of 2021, the work on the environmental issues had reached the respective short-term goals and is now heading toward the mid-term ones. All current results will be the basis for building momentum to carry out the rest of the Plan.
Future task: Combining diversified forces toward environmental goals
The EPA has been endeavoring to bring government agencies, enterprises, organizations, and citizens together. Local governments are also urged to propose their environmental protection plans for all to jointly realize the vision of carbon and disaster reduction, clean air for easy breathing, public-friendly water environments, waste used as resources, zero forest loss, and coexistence with nature by 2030.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, July 2022
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)