Fostering Innovation through Community Development

Taiwan is currently facing issues such as shrinking population, aging society, low birth rates, and an imbalance in urban and rural development. In order to address these issues, the Taiwanese government has launched the Regional Revitalization Program.

Every year, AmCham Taipei’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee hosts a forum to enhance members’ understanding of topics relating to social programs and environmental concerns. To raise awareness about the Regional Revitalization Program, the committee held a forum entitled “Fostering Innovation through Community Development” at the Grand Hyatt Taipei on October 2. The event was sponsored by JTI Taiwan.

This year experts from the Lovely Taiwan Foundation, Taichung Township Long-term Care Foundation, and Wu Wei Wu, a learning center for socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers in remote villages in Hualien County, were invited to discuss current trends regarding corporate social responsibility and how the private sector can help promote regional revitalization.

Li Ying-ping of the Lovely Taiwan Foundation recalled that following the 2009 typhoon that devastated mountainous areas of Taitung County, villagers originally were hesitant to accept assistance from the foundation, viewing it solely as an organization that hosts music festivals and other events. After talking with residents, the foundation came up with the idea of creating a platform to promote local culture, music, and arts and crafts. Together with the community, the foundation worked to raise funds to convert a dormitory facility for Taiwan Railway employees into what became the “Tiehua Music Village.”

Over the years, Tiehua Music Village has attracted international attention, especially after a number of famous artists and musicians performed at the park. In its approach to regional regeneration, Tiehua Music Village sets an excellent example for other communities.

Other speakers at the forum were Gu Yu-jun, professor of environmental studies at National Dong Hwa University and a volunteer worker and promoter of the Wu Wei Wu, and Lin Yi-ying, program leader of Taichung Township Long-term Care, who serves as an advocate for improving long-term care issues for the indigenous population in Taiwan.

Lin shared her experience working to improve long-term care issues for elderly members of the Atayal ethnic group. Besides serving as a volunteer caregiver, Lin also provides training courses for local residents interested in becoming a caregiver. She stressed the psychological rewards of seeing patients recover and helping improve the living conditions of indigenous families.

In a panel moderated by AmCham’s CSR Committee Co-chair Fupei Wang, the speakers discussed some of the challenges non-profits face due to the relatively small size of the Taiwan market – from obtaining funding to choosing the right partners – as well as difficulties posed by various laws and regulations. They urged the authorities and the private sector to work closely together to integrate resources to promote social innovation and economic development.

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