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ASEAN Forum on Sustainable Soil and Groundwater Creates Collaboration among Industry

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On 6 January 2023, the EPA held the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Forum on Sustainable Soil and Groundwater with talks on Taiwan and ASEAN nations’ environmental policies concerning soil and groundwater as well as experiences of environmental governance in order to generate innovative ideas. Foreign invitees included officials from the Ministry of Environment, Pollution Control and Environmental Degradation in East Java Province, Indonesia, as well as Indonesian and Vietnamese scholars. Attendees from Taiwan included representatives from local environmental authorities, soil and groundwater industries, and academia, as well as foreign and local graduate students studying in Taiwan. Furthermore, the Forum served as an award ceremony, honoring those who have successfully conducted research on sustainable and innovative soil and groundwater remediation.

In his opening speech, the then EPA Deputy Minister Hung-Te Tsai noted that Taiwan’s well-rounded Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act (土壤及地下水汙染整治法) has allowed itself to collect pollution remediation fund, just like how the Superfund was founded and is operated in the US, in order to effectively carry out remediation and prevention work for soil and groundwater pollutions. With climate and environments similar to those in Southeast Asian countries, Taiwan has under its belt 20 years of experiences in investigations, remediation technologies, and experiences on soil and groundwater pollutions, which can be shared with ASEAN countries. Every year there are continuous efforts to keep up with the latest global trends, exchange experiences, and enhance technological capacities through seminars and forums to interact with experts in relevant fields from the USEPA and Asian-Pacific nations. It not only helps lessen pollutions’ impacts and enhance environmental quality but also lays a solid foundation to expand Taiwan-led bilateral or multilateral collaborations.

The forum mainly discussed soil and groundwater issues in Indonesia and Vietnam. Taiwan’s legislation of the Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act, management strategies, technological development, and aligning with the world have all helped tremendously in its understanding of the ASEAN partners. And the industries, government, and academia have joined forces to assist Taiwan’s relevant industries to expand their foothold in ASEAN nations. Furthermore, a competition for research on sustainable and innovative soil and groundwater remediation was organized, with ASEAN students studying in Taiwan, to foster ASEAN talents in this field. Among the 22 competing teams, a total of ten passed the preliminary and secondary evaluation, and at the end five of them came out winning and were awarded NT$90,000. The goal to stimulate new ideas via competition so that these students can tackle environmental issues in their home countries with action will eventually lead to sustainable soil and groundwater development.

At the end, the EPA emphasized that, as sustainable soil and groundwater is a global environmental concern, it hopes to establish a partnership of soil and groundwater protection with ASEAN nations to jointly improve the environments and living quality for all people.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, January 2023

Ministry of Environment