On 20 May 2016, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen took office as the President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). On the same day, legislator Dr. Ying-Yuan Lee took office as the new EPA Minister, while lawyer Thomas S. K. Chan was named the new Deputy Minister. On accepting his new post, Minister Lee said “This is an important responsibility and mission.” He also stressed the importance of preventing environmental pollution and using resources sustainably, and said that both issues would require enormous efforts to solve. The EPA will put prevention first, while communications and negotiations will be strengthened to achieve consensus over environmental issues to better protect public health and Taiwan’s beautiful natural environment. The EPA will also actively reach out to the world to seek international cooperation on climate change mitigation and pollution prevention so as to improve environmental quality and ensure generational justice.
Professionally Trained with Much Public Sector Experience
Prior to being invited by Premier Chuan Lin to take the post of EPA Minister, Dr. Lee was a legislator in the Legislative Yuan. Minister Lee holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from National Taiwan University’s Department of Public Health. He went on the US to earn a master’s degree in Health Care Management from Harvard University, followed by a doctorate degree in Health Economics from the University of North Carolina. Minister Lee also brings many years of experience working in government agencies. He has previously served in the positions of Deputy Representative to the US, Secretary-General of the Executive Yuan, Minister of the Council of Labor Affairs, and Deputy Magistrate of Yunlin County. In addition to these executive experiences, he has been an elected legislator for more than 12 years.
Tasked to Establish the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources
The new government is keen to press ahead with ministerial reorganizations that will also affect the EPA. Reorganization on such a scale, however, is always a tricky matter, particularly for the EPA as its operations are wide in scope and often sensitive in nature. Minister Lee specializes in public health and is well known for his communication and coordination capabilities. He is also one of very few professionals who have ample administrative experience both in central and local governments and is familiar with multiple fields including foreign affairs, public health and labor affairs as well as environmental protection. Minister Lee is expected not only to actively lead in carrying out environmental protection duties but is also tasked with speeding up the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. This will integrate relevant authorities and improve the effectiveness of environmental work.
Prevention First while Tackling Land-, Air- and Water-Originated Pollution Simultaneously
Being an expert in public health, Minister Lee sees prevention as the first priority for environmental protection and says that land-, air- and water-originated pollution have to be addressed at the same time. He points out that solving the two big problems of environmental pollution and the sustainable use of resources will require great effort, and by becoming EPA Minister he takes on an important responsibility and mission. To improve environmental quality and ensure generational justice, the EPA will enhance communications and negotiations to achieve consensus on environmental issues, so as to better protect public health and safeguard Taiwan’s beautiful natural environment.
Seeking International Support to Work Together on Climate Change and Environmental Pollution
On Earth Day 2016, representatives of 171 nations gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York City and signed the Paris Agreement to mitigate climate change and global warming. Minister Lee considers this a major achievement for humankind. However, he regrets that Taiwan was not invited to sign the agreement and believes this omission was a loss for the planet. Minister Lee pointed out that climate change and atmospheric pollution are problems that cross international boundaries. We all breathe the same air and the least we can do is keep the atmosphere clean for future generations. Climate change mitigation and pollution control, he said, is like communicable diseases control in that it requires cooperation from all nations, hence there is no good reason for sidelining Taiwan. Taiwan will continue to make its voice heard and achieve greater participation in global environmental affairs in order to jointly protect the global environment and pursue sustainable development for humankind.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)