Students at Heping Island Park for the 2nd International Environmental Education Workshop in Taiwan
Students at Heping Island Park for the 2nd International Environmental Education Workshop in Taiwan

2021 International Environmental Issues and Education Workshop: Exploring Marine Debris Issues for a Sustainable Future

The 2nd International Environmental Education Workshop for foreign students studying in Taiwan was held by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (Taiwan EPA) in September 2021. The topic “marine waste issues” was the main focus of this year’s courses because of its transboundary nature, and the concept of circular economy was also introduced. The purpose was to let students understand Taiwan’s actions and experiences, strategies, and feasible solutions to deal with marine waste, which may serve as references for other countries when facing similar environmental issues.

Students in discussion at the International Environmental Education Workshop in Taiwan.

The two-day event led students to Keelung’s Heping Island Park for on-site inspections. While they enjoyed the uniquely formed coastline of northern Taiwan, the students found a lot of marine debris strewn on the shore under the influence of the northeast monsoon.

The sight inspired students to reflect on the fact that the ocean allows people to cross barriers and national boundaries connecting people and cultures, but it also transports marine wastes and pollution to all parts of the world.

At the coast, students carried out beach cleanup and classified and recorded the quantity and sources of marine debris according to the International Coastal Cleanup system. In the classroom, students learned about the various approaches that Taiwan has adopted—from the government, enterprises to non-governmental organizations—to reduce plastics at the source and promote a circular economy, as well as how environmental protection could be applied in daily life.

Students gathering and cataloging marine waste at Heping Island Park.

Under the guidance of the course instructors and after brainstorming in groups, the 26 young people from different countries learned about the current state of the environment in different countries, diverse ways of thinking and perspectives, and shared possible solutions to environmental issues. Marine wastes know no national boundaries.

It is hoped that the students can apply their experience in Taiwan when facing their own country’s local environmental issues in the future so that the seeds of environmental sustainability can be spread all over the world.