The UNFCCC will hold the 21st instance of its Conference of Parties (commonly known as "the climate conference") this year in Paris from November 30 through December 11, where the much-anticipated objective is a legally binding agreement among the world’s leaders. Already, we are seeing many nations offering their support on issues like renewables, emissions reduction, fossil fuel subsidies, and, most pertinent—climate change. The agreements reached in Paris will take effect in 2020, and are hoped, like the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, to be a mile marker on the road to sustainability.
The Tang Prize Foundation, which awards a prize in sustainable development and three other categories every two years, will be among this year’s participants, as both observer and civil society member. Tang Prize Foundation CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern will attend the discussions as a non-governmental observer along with Eugene Chien, Board Chairman of the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy. Simultaneously, team members of the Tang Prize Foundation will be raising awareness of sustainable ideas and Tang Prize values at the Climate Generations Area, a civil society space dedicated to the exchange of ideas among NGOs, NPOs, and the general public.
Sustainable Development was added to the Tang Prize’s quartet of categories by its founder Dr. Samuel Yin to reward and showcase outstanding contributions to the practice of sustainability, especially those effected by innovation and development in science and technology. In 2014 the first such contributor to win the prize in Sustainable Development was Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female Prime Minister of Norway. For it was under her leadership as Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development that the Commission published its history-making report “Our Common Future” in 1987 as a culmination of an international effort involving hundreds of experts and stakeholders. While the report was ground-breaking for its breadth and foresight, it also carried the seminal definition of the term ‘sustainable development’…
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Brundtland and the four other inaugural laureates were chosen for their preeminence in their field and the positive impact their work has had on humanity. Now, as the Tang Prize prepares to select the 2016 laureates, nomination numbers are on the rise from the previous award year, a trend that shows that the world welcomes the gravity, the authority, and the impartiality of the prize, says CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern. Another good sign, he adds, is that many of these nominees are from developing countries.
Aside from the NT$40 million (approx. US$1.3 million) in prize money, laureates also receive NT$10 million (US$300,000) in grant money per category for a plan of their choice or making. The grant is meant to improve the research, education, and scholarship of the field in which the laureate has been awarded, and may be divided among any institutions or individuals. Brundtland apportioned half of her grant to the Milgis Trust, a wildlife conservation organization operating in the Milgis Lugga area of Northern Kenya, while she allocated the other half to a project at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to help train female scientists and research fellows from developing countries.
COP21, the most significant climate meeting of recent memory, is already being seen as the successor to the goals of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Joining the global call for agreement and action, the Tang Prize will be holding a display at the Climate Generations Area (stand number A5), where the team will engage with other members of civil society on the topic of sustainability.