Taiwan is surrounded by mountains and mountaineering is popular. In the past, mountain lovers had to repeatedly enter almost the same information in four separate systems, including the application for Taiwan National Park Permits by Construction and Planning Agency, the application for entry permit by National Police Agency, and the application for villa and nature reserves by the Forestry Bureau, which is very painstaking for them.
This problem has an opportunity to be changed with the contribution of our young friends. In 2019, under my office’s “Rescue Action by Youth, RAY” project, a group of interns designed a prototype mountain website that reversed the long been criticized user experience. The “Taiwan Mountaineering Application One-stop Service” website subsequently launched by the Executive Yuan is the result of collaboration with various agencies guided by the excellent design of this group of young friends.
This collaboration has made me realize that young people are often the easiest to empathize with existing problems in society and can provide the solutions; however, for those who want to contribute, it is often difficult for them to put ideas into practice due to lack of resources. And the government can make these good ideas more likely to be realized by providing communication channels and linking up community support.
For example, in 2017, a proposal to ban plastic straws appeared on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Participation Network Platform (Join.gov.tw), and it quickly exceeded the signature threshold for petition. Later, people discovered that Wang Hsuan Ju, who proposed the petition, was a 16-year-old high school student. She not only succeeded in gathering strength through the Internet and gradually realizing the initiative to restrict the use of plastic straws, but also became a member of the first committee of the Executive Yuan’s “Open Government National Action Plan Task Force” this year.
In the meantime, thousands of young friends proposed to lower the legal age of majority in the Civil Code, which also received the support of the Executive Yuan. On August 13, 2020, the court passed the amendment to 38 laws, including the Civil Code, to lower the legal age of majority to 18 from 20 (the right to vote in elections is discussed through the constitutional amendment process) - these are all manifestations of the youth’s independent voice.
Nowadays, engaging the government on actual policy has gradually become a daily routine for young people. In 2016, the Executive Yuan established the Youth Advisory Group under the concept of “reverse mentor”, which not only allows young people to collaborate with various ministries of the Executive Yuan, but also to give advice and point out the future direction of the government.
The Youth Advisory Group members come from different sectors of the society and often have first-hand practical experience, which has an immediate effect in linking up various departments of the industry, government, academia and research institutes to solve social problems and participate in local development. For example, member of the first session, Valagas Gadeljeman, advocated the promotion of gender-friendly toilets in tertiary institutions, which won the support of the Ministry of Education and was included in the grant index after the national survey. When Huang Wei Hsiang was a member of the second session of Youth Advisory Committee Group, he proposed to allow WorldSkills Competitions (WSC) athletes to participate in the National Day Parade, which was immediately supported by the Executive Yuan. It enables our internationally renowned athletes to be recognized by our people.
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. To me, the creativity and vitality of young people is the light to solve social problems. I look forward to more young people joining in the collaboration in the future, so that the government’s strength can help realize your thinking and together we can weave a sustainable future.