April 22, 2022
Opening Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk
at the American Innovation Center (AIC) Annual Innovation Forum on
Earth Day 2022
April 22, 2022
(As Prepared for Delivery)
President Tsai, Vice President Tsai of the Legislative Yuan, Minister Tang, Minister Kung, Minister Wang, Chairman Chien and distinguished guests — good morning!
As you know, today is Earth Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of our environmental challenges, and also come together to discuss strategies to make meaningful change. “Innovation Drives the Sustainable Economy” – this is the theme of this year’s Forum, and it highlights that creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration are the driving forces that overcome global challenges.
At this point, with your permission, I will transition to English, since there are a lot of details I’d like to cover!
On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans rallied together to demand action to allow all of us to live free from environmental hazard and harm. Their dedication sparked a national movement that endures today in the bedrock laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the places in nature we visit, and the wildlife we see.
That first Earth Day helped transform the ways we interact with the world around us, and it changed how we view our impact on the natural world — inspiring the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act.
This year, on Earth Day, we resolve to build on the progress made over the past half-century by reaffirming our commitment to action that will ensure a clean and healthy earth for our children and grandchildren.
In August 2021, I signed the Greening Diplomacy Initiative Pledge, demonstrating AIT’s support for the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to deploy sustainability-related practices that enhance energy security and amplify resilience.
This aligns with the Biden Administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis by achieving a carbon-free power sector by 2035, putting the United States on a path to a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.
At the State Department, we take this charge seriously. Around the world we have reduced our environmental footprint by transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles, powering our facilities with renewable energy, continuously improving our energy, water, and waste management strategies, and building resilience against the impacts of climate change. These collective efforts send strong messages about the U.S. commitment to tackling climate change. Improving our operations platform also uses our purchasing power to signal to the private sector, ensures stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars, and showcases the very best of U.S. sustainability innovations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how interconnected our world is. We are global citizens of a planet facing multiple stressors. The United States alone cannot save the ocean or stop more than one million of our planet’s plants and animals from vanishing forever. We alone cannot reach the essential goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We have to work together.
Whether it is developments in wind and geothermal power technologies, creative waste management initiatives, or the recently released 2050 carbon net zero policy road map, Taiwan is recognized as a global environmental leader. Many of Taiwan’s environmental and circular economy experts are with us throughout this forum, including Microsoft Taiwan, UPS, Fubon Financial Holding, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Thank you for your support. And a special thanks to Songshan Cultural and Creative Park for providing this wonderful venue.
Since 2015, the American Innovation Center has been hosting this annual Innovation Forum, highlighting how U.S. and Taiwan innovation drives technological development worldwide. I invite you to visit our AIC, hosted here in Songshan, to see the range of resources and programming that we offer to students, designers, professionals, and entrepreneurs.
Finally, all of us can play a role in ensuring we do not pass on a world beyond repair to our children and grandchildren. As long as we stay united and focused on protecting the one planet we have, we can leave it in better shape for future generations. This Earth Day, let us all accept our individual responsibility to care for the world we live in, and let us marshal our best efforts toward building a safer, more stable, and more sustainable world.