TAIPEI, TAIWAN – Media_OutReach – 10 June 2019 – A total of 64 projects and business leaders across 16 countries in Asia were selected as recipients of Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards (AREA) 2019, an increase of 19% from last year. Regarded as the top corporate social responsibility awards in Asia, this year’s ceremony was organized in Taipei, after being held in Macau, Singapore, Bangkok, and Manila previously.
Organized by Enterprise Asia, the leading non-governmental organization for responsible entrepreneurship in Asia, the AREA aims to recognize and honor Asian businesses and leaders for championing sustainable and socially responsible business practices. The award categories are social empowerment, investment in people, health promotion, green leadership, corporate governance, and responsible business leadership. Some of the dignitaries who graced the event include Mr. Chang San-cheng, former premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Mr. Hou Yu-Ih, mayor of New Taipei City.
Leading the list of winners under the social empowerment category was Far Eastern Big City Shopping Malls with their project “Co-hosting 8th Vocal Asia Festival with Kehua Foundation to Realize Big City’s Vision of Promoting with Profound Impact the Preservation of Taiwan’s Native Culture and Hakka Folk Songs”.
Big City is the largest of its kind in Northern Taiwan, hosting an array of more than 260 retailing brands that offer an abundant selection of fashion, entertainment, sports and dining. It is also known as the largest indoor F&B Kingdom of Taiwan, featuring a venue of more than 60 local and international dining brands with seating capacity in excess of 3,800. Big City aims to provide one-stop shopping with the finest service experience amidst a most inviting environment.
Language diversity is essential to human heritage. Many different native languages embody the unique cultural wisdom of the people of Taiwan. However, UNESCO has listed Taiwan as one country with significant risk of native language extinction.
To raise awareness of this risk, Big City strives to promote language diversity and provide ongoing support of the expression, creation and dissemination of Taiwan’s native languages through education and musical performances. One concrete and effective means of achieving this is to encourage and facilitate folk song singing across all age groups. Big City is mindful of its intrinsic value as Northern Taiwan’s largest shopping mall that daily draws large crowds. The public open spaces throughout the mall can provide an optimal learning and performing venue for fostering and promoting the preservation and dissemination of native languages for all generations.
Since 2016, Big City has implemented a series of initiatives involving global cooperation and local networking of resources to promote music curriculums and performances, including co-sponsorship with the Vox Nativa Taiwan Association of a visit to Taiwan by the Poland Poznan Boys’ Choir.
It has also devoted intense effort to actively assimilate and boost intergenerational native language dissemination and cultural diversity via A- Cappella education, including co- organizing parent-child lessons and A- Cappella children summer camps.
The “2018 Hsin-Chu Vocal Asia Festival” was one of the successful events of this initiative by combining A-Cappella with Taiwan’s Hakka culture. The 8th Vocal Asia Festival, co- hosted by Big City and the Kehua Foundation, comprised a series of A-Cappella master classes, an Asia Cup A-Cappella competition, the Hakkappella Concert, the A-Cappella Gala Concert, the A-Ca-Day festival and numerous simultaneous performances on Big City open stages between August 16 and 19 of 2018. This profoundly realized Big City’s mission of fostering public awareness regarding the importance of native culture and promoting Taiwan’s rich linguistic inheritance.
Big City realizes the importance of maintaining a long-term effort toward promoting language diversity if there is to be an enduring impact. Accordingly, it has continuously provided resources for A-Cappella education programs not only in the form of classes for all ages, but also master classes for music teachers.
Achievement and Impact Through a combination of the Big City’s online and offline marketing and media resources, it was able to attract more than 20,000 live audience members and 4.8 million online viewers in their related music events.
Big City values the preservation of native culture and practices as one of the sustainable development goals set forth by the United Nations. While fostering an ongoing constructive contribution to society during this event, Big City was also able to provide its customers with the moving experience of encountering beautiful native songs performed in the mall, while earning the respect and trust from those who share the same vision of protecting endangered languages.
Future Direction Big City will continue to devote its efforts to music education on behalf of preserving native culture. A series of Native Music Promotion Projects has been planned and is being implemented for teachers and students of different ages. It will involve various initiatives to bridge and connect resources from different industries, government agencies and universities, as well as provide performing stages to assist in promoting events that maximize audience size and participation.
Big City aims to be one of the most respected and influential platforms for the collaborative effort to promote native music and cultural education in Taiwan. It gladly shares in shouldering the responsibility of ensuring that no native languages disappear, and is dedicated to the goal of fortifying, maintaining and perpetuating native culture for many generations to come.
*** About Enterprise Asia *** Enterprise Asia is a non-governmental organization in pursuit of creating an Asia that is rich in entrepreneurship as an engine towards sustainable and progressive economic and social development within a world of economic equality. Its two pillars of existence are investment in people and responsible entrepreneurship. Enterprise Asia works with governments, NGOs and other organizations to promote competitiveness and entrepreneurial development, in uplifting the economic status of people across Asia and in ensuring a legacy of hope, innovation and courage for the future generation. For more information, visit: https://www.enterpriseasia.org/. *** About Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards *** The Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards recognizes and honors Asian businesses for championing sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship in the categories of Green Leadership, Investment in People, Health Promotion, Social Empowerment, Corporate Governance and Responsible Business Leadership. For more information, visit: https://enterpriseasia.org/area/.
Former Bank of England Governor Carney joins board of digital payments company Stripe
By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – Mark Carney, former head of the UK and Canadian central banks, has joined the board of U.S. digital payments company Stripe Inc, days after the company was reported to be planning a primary funding round valuing it at over $100 billion.
“Regulated in multiple jurisdictions and partnering with several dozen financial institutions around the world, Stripe will benefit from Mark Carney’s extensive experience of global financial systems and governance”, the company said on Sunday, confirming a report by the Sunday Times newspaper.
Forbes magazine had reported on Wednesday that investors were valuing Stripe at a $115 billion valuation in secondary-market transactions.
A senior Stripe executive told Reuters in December that the company plans to expand across Asia, including in Southeast Asia, Japan, China and India.
The company offers products that allow merchants to accept digital payments from customers and a range of business banking services.
Stripe raised $600 million in April in an extension of a Series G round and was valued back then at $36 billion.
Consumer-facing fintechs have seen a boost to their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people have been staying at home to avoid catching the virus and have increasingly been managing their finances online.
Carney, who headed the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada, had a 13-year career at Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc in its London, Tokyo, New York and Toronto offices.
He is the United Nations special envoy on climate action and finance.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)
Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) – The head of European planemaker Airbus called on Saturday for a “ceasefire” in a transatlantic trade war over aircraft subsidies, saying tit-for-tat tariffs on planes and other goods had aggravated damage from the COVID-19 crisis.
Washington progressively imposed import duties of 15% on Airbus jets from 2019 after a prolonged dispute at the World Trade Organization, and the EU responded with matching tariffs on Boeing jets a year later. Wine, whisky and other goods are also affected.
“This dispute, which is now an old dispute, has put us in a lose-lose situation,” Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in a radio interview.
“We have ended up in a situation where wisdom would normally dictate that we have a ceasefire and resolve this conflict,” he told France Inter.
Boeing was not immediately available for comment.
Brazil, which has waged separate battles with Canada over subsidies for smaller regional jets, on Thursday dropped its own complaint against Ottawa and called for a global peace deal between producing nations on support for aerospace.
Faury said the dispute with Boeing was particularly damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has badly hit air travel and led to travel restrictions or border closures. He expressed particular concern about widening bans within Europe.
“We are extremely frustrated by the barriers that restrict personal movement and it is almost impossible today to travel in Europe by plane, even domestically,” he said.
“The priority no. 1 for countries in general is to reopen frontiers and allow people to travel on the basis of tests and then eventually vaccinations.”
The comments come as businesses increase pressure on governments to reopen economies as coronavirus vaccine roll-outs gather pace across Europe.
France has defended recently introduced border restrictions, saying they will help the government avoid a new lockdown and stay in force until at least the end of February.
Germany installed border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria last Sunday, drawing protest from Austria and concerns about supply-chain disruptions.
Berlin calls the move a temporary measure of last resort.
Poland said on Saturday it had not ruled out imposing restrictions at the country’s borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to rising COVID-19 cases.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
Why a predictable cold snap crippled the Texas power grid
By Tim McLaughlin and Stephanie Kelly
(Reuters) – As Texans cranked up their heaters early Monday to combat plunging temperatures, a record surge of electricity demand set off a disastrous chain reaction in the state’s power grid.
Wind turbines in the state’s northern Panhandle locked up. Natural gas plants shut down when frozen pipes and components shut off fuel flow. A South Texas nuclear reactor went dark after a five-foot section of uninsulated pipe seized up. Power outages quickly spread statewide – leaving millions shivering in their homes for days, with deadly consequences.
It could have been far worse: Before dawn on Monday, the state’s grid operator was “seconds and minutes” away from an uncontrolled blackout for its 26 million customers, its CEO has said. Such a collapse occurs when operators lose the ability to manage the crisis through rolling blackouts; in such cases, it can take weeks or months to fully restore power to customers.
Monday was one of the state’s coldest days in more than a century – but the unprecedented power crisis was hardly unpredictable after Texas had experienced a similar, though less severe, disruption during a 2011 cold snap. Still, Texas power producers failed to adequately winter-proof their systems. And the state’s grid operator underestimated its need for reserve power capacity before the crisis, then moved too slowly to tell utilities to institute rolling blackouts to protect against a grid meltdown, energy analysts, traders and economists said.
Early signs of trouble came long before the forced outages. Two days earlier, for example, the grid suddenly lost 539 megawatts (MW) of power, or enough electricity for nearly 108,000 homes, according to operational messages disclosed by the state’s primary grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
The crisis stemmed from a unique confluence of weaknesses in the state’s power system.
Texas is the only state in the continental United States with an independent and isolated grid. That allows the state to avoid federal regulation – but also severely limits its ability to draw emergency power from other grids. ERCOT also operates the only major U.S. grid that does not have a capacity market – a system that provides payments to operators to be on standby to supply power during severe weather events.
After more than 3 million ERCOT customers lost power in a February 2011 freeze, federal regulators recommended that ERCOT prepare for winter with the same urgency as it does the peak summer season. They also said that, while ERCOT’s reserve power capacity looked good on paper, it did not take into account that many generation units could get knocked offline by freezing weather.
“There were prior severe cold weather events in the Southwest in 1983, 1989, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2010,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp staff summarized after investigating the state’s 2011 rolling blackouts. “Extensive generator failures overwhelmed ERCOT’s reserves, which eventually dropped below the level of safe operation.”
ERCOT spokeswoman Leslie Sopko did not comment in detail about the causes of the power crisis but said the grid’s leadership plans to re-evaluate the assumptions that go into its forecasts.
The freeze was easy to see coming, said Jay Apt, co-director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center.
“When I read that this was a black-swan event, I just have to wonder whether the folks who are saying that have been in this business long enough that they forgot everything, or just came into it,” Apt said. “People need to recognize that this sort of weather is pretty common.”
This week’s cold snap left 4.5 million ERCOT customers without power. More than 14.5 million Texans endured a related water-supply crisis as pipes froze and burst. About 65,000 customers remained without power as of Saturday afternoon, even as temperatures started to rise, according to website PowerOutage.US.
State health officials have linked more than two dozen deaths to the power crisis. Some died from hypothermia or possible carbon monoxide poisoning caused by portable generators running in basements and garages without enough ventilation. Officials say they suspect the death count will rise as more bodies are discovered.
THIN POWER RESERVE
In the central Texas city of Austin, the state capital, the minimum February temperature usually falls between 42 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 9 degrees Celsius). This past week, temperatures fell as low as 6 degrees Fahrenheit (-14 degrees Celsius).
In November, ERCOT assured that the grid was prepared to handle such a dire scenario.
“We studied a range of potential risks under both normal and extreme conditions, and believe there is sufficient generation to adequately serve our customers,” said ERCOT’s manager of resource adequacy, Pete Warnken, in a report that month.
Warnken could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Under normal winter conditions, ERCOT forecast it would have about 16,200 MW of power reserves. But under extreme conditions, it predicted a reserve cushion of only about 1,350 MW. That assumed only 23,500 MW of generation outages. During the peak of this week’s crisis, more than 30,000 MW was forced off the grid.
Other U.S. grid operators maintain a capacity market to supply extra power in extreme conditions – paying operators on an ongoing basis, whether they produce power or not. Capacity market auctions determine, three years in advance, the price that power generators receive in exchange for being on emergency standby.
Instead, ERCOT relies on a wholesale electricity market, where free market pricing provides incentives for generators to provide daily power and to make investments to ensure reliability in peak periods, according to economists. The system relied on the theory that power plants should make high profits when energy demand and prices soar – providing them ample money to make investments in, for example, winterization. The Texas legislature restructured the state’s electric market in 1999.
Since 2010, ERCOT’s reserve margin – the buffer between generation capacity versus forecasted demand – has dropped to about 10% from about 20%. This has put pressure on generators during demand spikes, making the grid less flexible, according to North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a nonprofit regulator.
That thin margin for error set off alarms early Monday morning among energy traders and analysts as they watched a sudden drop in the electrical frequency of the Texas grid. One analyst compared it to watching the pulse of a hospital patient drop to life-threatening levels.
Too much of a drop is catastrophic because it would trigger automatic relay switches to disconnect power sources from the grid, setting off uncontrolled blackouts statewide. Dan Jones, an energy analyst at Monterey LLC, watched from his home office in Delaware as the grid’s frequency dropped quickly toward the point that would trigger the automatic shutdowns.
“If you’re not in control, and you are letting the equipment do it, that’s just chaos,” Jones said.
By Sunday afternoon about 3:15 p.m. (CST), ERCOT’s control room signaled it had run out of options to boost electric generation to match the soaring demand. Operators issued a warning that there was “no market solution” for the projected shortage, according to control room messages published by ERCOT on its website.
Adam Sinn, president of Houston-based energy trading firm Aspire Commodities, said ERCOT waited far too long to start telling utilities to cut customers’ power to guard against a grid meltdown. The problems, he said, were readily apparent several days before Monday.
“ERCOT was letting the system get weaker and weaker and weaker,” Sinn said in an interview. “I was thinking: Holy shit, what is this grid operator doing? He has to cut load.”
Sinn said he started texting his friends on Sunday night, warning them to expect widespread outages.
‘SECONDS AND MINUTES’
Early Monday morning, one of the largest sources of electricity in the state – the unit 1 reactor at the South Texas Nuclear Generating Station – stopped producing power after the small section of pipe froze in temperatures that averaged 17 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius). The grid lost access to 1,350 MW of nuclear power – enough to power about 270,000 homes – after automatic sensors detected the frozen pipe and protectively shut down the reactor, said Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
About 2:30 a.m. (CST), the South Plains Electric Cooperative in Lubbock said it received a phone call from ERCOT to cut power to its customers. Inside the ERCOT control room, staff members scrambled to call utilities and cooperatives statewide to tell them to do the same, according to operational messages disclosed by the grid operator.
Three days later, ERCOT Chief Executive Bill Magness acknowledged that the grid operator had only narrowly avoided the calamity of uncontrolled blackouts.
“If we hadn’t taken action,” he said on Thursday, “it was seconds and minutes (away), given the amount of generation that was coming off the system at the same time that the demand was still going up.”
(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin and Stephanie Kelly; additional reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot)
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