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2020 Taipei City VLR Demonstrates Achievements in the Fight of COVID-19 Impacting on Global Sustainable Development

As the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) goes beyond borders, one-third of the world population in more than 187 countries and regions have been affected. Approximately 15 million cases worldwide have been confirmed as of July 24. The report, released in March by the UN, pointed out that the COVID-19 outbreak has destructed societies in an unprecedented way, and had a devastating impact on the progress of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, it also created a transformative opportunity for the realization of SDGs. Since local governments are on the frontline of responding to this pandemic, the UN urged countries to form partnership between central and local governments, with central government allocates the resources and creates responsive mechanism, leading the way in showing local governments what effective measures to adopt that facilitate top-down preventive approach.                                                               
Taipei City’s Department of Environmental Protection (Taipei DEP) said that to combat the pandemic, the city has implemented various measures that comply with central government’s policies and meet the SDGs of Good Health and Well-being (Goal 3), Education Quality (Goal 4), Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9), Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11), Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12), and Partnerships for the Goals (Goal 17).
 The measures which correspond to the SDGs adopted by the city are as follows:
·     Goal 3: Quarantine and Isolation Management for the Health of Citizens
Prioritizing the health of citizens, the city government manages persons under home quarantine or isolation through smart tracking systems and collaborates with 35 hotels to provide accommodation of the abovementioned persons who have no suitable place for the two purposes. This measure allows reduction in COVID-19 treatment cost, sustainable capacity and utilization of healthcare resources. For individuals suspected of having COVID-19 and for those who need transport service from home quarantine to hospitals for routine medical treatments, rides will be arranged using the city’s “Disease Prevention Taxis” for the purpose of reducing the risk of transmission.
·     Goal 4: A Set of E-learning Platforms Provide Equal Access to Education Promotion of “Taipei CooC-Cloud”, an online platform provides students under class suspension or home isolation with online learning services, is based on the principles of “Non-stop Learning”. In addition, free SIM cards are provided to relatively economically underprivileged students, giving universal access to education for all.
·     Goal 8: Nine Short-term Distress Economic Relief Measures Meet Economic Needs of Citizens
The city’s implemented nine short-term distress economic relief measures to ensure economic needs of citizens. “A Thousand People in Taipei Participating in the Pandemic Prevention Employment Program” provides approximately 2,000 job opportunities related to pandemic prevention from government departments. The other eight measures including deferring and reducing local tax payment, subsidizing unpaid individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises were conducted. Approximately 370 million NT dollars are put for economic rescue and future development.
·     Goal 9: Stay Safe from COVID-19 in Public Spaces and Conduct Environmental Disinfection
To ensure normal functioning of infrastructure in the city, mask-wearing has been made mandatory at all times when taking mass rapid transit (MRT) and infrared thermal imaging cameras have been set up in major MRT stations for distance measurement of body temperature.
MRT stations and carriages that passengers frequently come into contact are disinfected regularly. In addition, disinfection is implemented on a weekly basis in nine types of areas such as Taipei Main Station, Taipei City Hall Bus Station and exits of MRT stations to reduce the risk of transmission associated with visitor flow so that citizens could live their lives in a possibly most unaffected way.
·     Goal 11: Provide a Safe and Livable Living Environment and Implement Community-based Prevention Mechanism
To strengthen community-based prevention and control, combined with the disaster preparedness programs, 1,500 trained and disaster management certificated “disaster relief volunteers” undertake health promotion focuses on COVID-19 prevention at the community level. “Guidance for Communities to Prevent the Transmission of Coronavirus Disease” spelled out the rules to be imposed for providing citizens a good and safety place to live.
·     Goal 12: Ensure Safe Environment with Zero Transmission Risk by Improving Hazardous Waste Management during Pandemic
To properly manage waste of people under mandatory quarantine or isolation, the waste will be treated as “infectious waste” and thus be managed accordingly. Waste management operators that possess either a waste clearance or disposal permit will travel to their households and perform waste collection to ensure a community with zero transmission risk.
·     Goal 17: Share Our Best Practices
Taipei City has provided an English version of Epidemic Prevention SOP and set up a website portal dedicated to Taipei City Government’s COVID-19 Resources (https://english.gov.taipei/covid19/) to share with its sister cities and other cities as a reference. Thus far, 26 cities have responded, and some have even requested to have video conferences, or have invited Taipei to join their pandemic prevention platforms to share the experiences.
Taipei DEP indicated that the city has published its first Voluntary Local Review (VLR) under the livable and sustainable vision, which reviews the progress toward 7 prioritized SDGs in 2019. This year, the city will release a 2020 VLR, including its measures and results during the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time to present and share with the global society. Furthermore, the 2020 Taipei City VLR will implement periodic reviews and updates with 4 added SDGs- Education Quality (Goal 4), Gender Equality (Goal 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9), to refine the content of VLR.
Currently, 2020 Taipei City VLR is in the process of being finalized through interdepartmental coordination, experts’ consultation, and stakeholder meeting in the aim of reinforcing the spirit of partnership. The first draft will be published on the city’s digital platform for civic engagement in July and feedbacks from citizens will be then incorporated into the report. In addition, the final report is scheduled for release later this year on the VLR Lab, an online platform launched by The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and, to allow Taipei to be align with the global trends of SDGs.
For more information about Taipei City Government’s COVID-19 Epidemic Prevention SOPs.