Stephen Shu-hung Shen
Environmental Protection Administration Minister
Date of Birth: 19/06/1949
While the cosy ties between Beijing and Taipei make headlines, Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency has become a surreptitious agent of foreign policy. More surprisingly, the Agency is led by a bureaucrat with a single-minded devotion to environmental issues.
Born in 1949, Stephen Shu-hung Shen holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University. He joined the Department of Health in 1975, working in its Environmental Protection Bureau. In 1987, the Bureau was upgraded and renamed the Environmental Protection Administration. Over the next decade, Shen gained wide exposure to the ministry’s workings, from air and water monitoring to sustainable technology.
From 1996 to 1998, Shen worked in the National Science Council, including a stint as Director-General of International Cooperation. He was then appointed Commissioner of Taipei’s Department of Environmental Protection by then-Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. When Ma was elected President in 2008, he brought Shen on board as EPA Minister.
Shen has thus far managed to tread the diplomatic minefield. An environmental summit he hosted in March was attended by Taiwan’s four African allies – Swaziland, São Tomé, Gambia and Burkina Faso – and, unusually, Chinese allies Kenya, Libya and Nigeria. Yet there was none of the expected squawking from Beijing. Shen plans to sponsor green energy projects for Taiwan’s African allies, who in return would pass their carbon credits from the UN Clean Development Mechanism to Taipei. This would give the island access to the world’s carbon credit market.