As we celebrate the 44th Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, AIT Kaohsiung would like to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to finding solutions for today’s global environmental concerns, particularly climate change, wildlife trafficking, and the health of our oceans. This year’s Earth Day theme of “Greening Cities” seems especially appropriate for those of us who live in southern Taiwan. Over the past decade and a half, cities in southern Taiwan have made remarkable progress in becoming “greener” cities. For example, Kaohsiung’s Love River, once an eyesore filled with industrial wastewater, has become the symbol of the green transformation of the city with the development of green spaces, restored wetlands, and extensive bike trails. Tainan is adding to its legacy as Taiwan’s original capital city by becoming a leader in the promotion of energy saving smart grids and solar energy. Pingtung, too, has promoted innovative solar energy and bio-gas projects, earning distinction as one a limited number of places worldwide selected to participate in IBM’s “Smart City Challenge.” And Penghu has begun making use of one of its most abundant natural resources: wind power.
The United States and Taiwan have collaborated on environmental protection for over two decades. On April 14, we welcomed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy for the first visit by a U.S. Cabinet-level official in nearly 14 years. During her visit, Administrator McCarthy helped launch the International Environmental Partnership, which will seek to expand Taiwan’s environmental leadership and share the expertise that Taiwan has developed over recent decades. Administrator McCarthy also emphasized the importance of environmental education, pointing out that better understanding our environmental problems empowers us to address them. Illustrative of our long history of collaboration on environmental protection, in December 2012, AIT joined with Kaohsiung City’s Environmental Protection Bureau, USEPA and Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in hosting the “2012 U.S.-Taiwan Sustainability Symposium: Creating Sustainable Cities and Promoting Sustainable Ports in the Asia Pacific Region.”
AIT has had an office in Kaohsiung since 1979 and we are currently completing work on our new office location at the China Steel building. We selected this modern, environmentally certified high-rise in part because of the earth-friendly features of the building. Noting the City of Kaohsiung’s efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles through biking, we built our office with shower facilities to encourage employees to bike to work. We recently joined other occupants of the building in celebrating Earth Hour by extinguishing all lights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM on March 29. Reaffirming the US commitment to southern Taiwan, AIT has made a considerable investment in constructing a new office at the CSC building, and we look forward to moving into this “green” building in a few months.
On Earth Day 2014, AIT/K employees will participate in two special activities: 1) we will pick up litter at the Chai Shan Hiking Trail; and 2) we’ll join volunteers at the Tzu Chi Foundation in sorting recyclable materials. Later, on Saturday, April 26, AIT/K will participate in a 5-kilometer fun run organized by National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Tainan to promote healthy lifestyles and mark the opening of a special exhibit on “American College Sports” at NCKU’s Art Center. If you would like to join us in these activities, please check our Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/ILoveAITK. On this Earth Day, we at AIT/Kaohsiung encourage everyone to consider what they can do to help our environment by living in a healthy and sustainable manner.