“No work of art is purer and more touching than the natural world created by God. This should be what we all feel if we come to know it (the beauty of nature).”
Claire Meng-lan Shu, a familiar name in the annual Golden Bell Awards ceremonies, has received seven nominations and won the trophy three times. As a matter of fact, her latest work, Vanishing Kings, was just named best nature and science documentary in 2020’s award ceremony. Being a TV host for more than a decade, she has set foot in more than fifty countries located in seven continents and five oceans. Her long-standing concerns have been about issues such as global warming, climate change, nature conservation and sustainable development.
In the summer of 2014, when producing the show, “Focus on the Arctic—A Frozen Planet Now Melting Away,” Claire and her team travelled to Norway and did an interview with Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, 2014 Tang Prize laureate in Sustainable Development and considered by many as the godmother of sustainable development.
“She didn’t give herself airs and graces, but at the same time, you can feel that she still had the gravitas you’d expect from a former prime minister. She was decisive, precise about her answers, and showed great depth when elaborating her ideas.” Even though Claire had talked with many influential figures, she could not help but feel nervous, knowing the person she was about to interview was once known as Norway’s Iron Lady. But, as Claire recalled, the moment she met Dr. Brundtland, she “became her fan right away.” “She was incredible!” “Everything she said can become a memorable quote.”
“Down to earth and approachable” was the impression Dr. Brundtalnd left Claire with, an impression that, quite frankly, surprised her.
Dr. Brundtland held office as Norway’s prime minister three times, and then took up an important post in the United Nation. In 1987, the commission she chaired published the report, “Our Common Future,” in which the concept of sustainable development was given a definition for the first time, therefore earning her the sobriquet “the godmother of sustainable development.” She is not only an equivalent for a retired president in Taiwan but also an international leader. “That such a great, highly accomplished person who has enormous influence not only in Norway but also in the world should live in a two-story house, next to other people, in a little alley is beyond imagination!”
“The geography of a country decides the character and ideals of the people living in it,” Claire observes. Norway is ahead of other countries when it comes to taking swift actions to tackle global warming and climate change, and it has much to do with the fact that the part of its territory lies within the Arctic Circle. In addition, the belief of sharing resources, held dear by Vikings, the ancestors of the Norwegian people, is deeply ingrained in their consciousness. When people in Norway were drilling for extremely lucrative oil, as its prime minister, Dr. Brundtland made a progressive thinker’s decision and formulated comprehensive social, economic, and environmental policies as a response. Moreover, her successor, inheriting her vision for a sustainable future, established an oil fund to ensure that all the citizens can benefit from the oil production.
“International affairs,” “environmental protection” and “social welfare” were once seen by Taiwan’s TV producers as three “toxic” topics that would guarantee their shows flop completely. As a finance news presenter, Claire was undoubtedly under tremendous pressure when working on her “Focus on” series. A decade has passed, not only does the show still exist, but it has also become a teaching material and frequently gets the nod from the Golden Bell Awards. Even some of the episodes that had received poor ratings before became quite popular when being replayed many years later. The long comments sections on YouTube full of heart-warming messages from the audience made Claire realize that Taiwan has become more eco-friendly. People care more about nature, reflect more on energy consumption, and strive ever harder for sustainable development.
By Daisy Lee/ English translation by Wei-Hsin Lin