The second annual Basic Income Asia Pacific conference will be held in Taipei, Taiwan on March 17 and 18. This year’s theme is “Asia Pacific’s Economic Future.” Keynote speeches will be delivered by Enno Schmidt, the Swiss referendum leader, and Dr. Sarath Davala, the lead researcher for the UNICEF basic income trials in India.
“The focus on Asia is necessary to understand how we are going to interpret the idea regionally – given Asia’s own specificities and peculiarities. This conference is going to open this much needed conversation. This event is yet another milestone achieved by the UBI Taiwan, one of the most dynamic national groups,” Davala said.
Leading thinkers in academia, government and NGOs from Taiwan, mainland China, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States will join the conference to discuss the challenges facing the Asia Pacific and potential solutions, such as basic income.
Dr. Hermann Aubie is a lecturer at Aston University in the United Kingdom. His research specializes on comparing basic income movements in East Asia and Europe.
“This conference offers a rare and precious opportunity in the Asia Pacific region to build upon the wave of renewed attention that Universal Basic Income gained in recent years to discuss actively how we can create a wider consensus and concrete initiatives that build upon existing basic income designs and pilot implementations across the world,” Aubie said.
The entire conference will be live-streamed on UBI Taiwan’s Facebook account, including both English and Chinese audio simultaneous translations.
Taiwan has recently lowered the threshold for referendums, which has opened the possibility for a UBI referendum in Taiwan. This will be a topic of particular focus for two of the presentations at the conference, including Schmidt who will present on how Taiwan can lead Asia with a UBI referendum.
“With the introduction of Direct Democracy this year in Taiwan, the UBI Taiwan proponents have the same chance and political tool to turn UBI into a nationwide discussion and to push it to a people’s vote like the Swiss have done,” Schmidt said.
The conference coincides with increased discussion of basic income in the Asia Pacific, with the UN Development Program holding roundtable discussions on basic income in Beijing, China last October and December, as well as Korea discussing designs for a a pilot program.
“With the second annual UBI Asia Pacific regional conference approaching, we have expanded into two days, allowing us to share our ideas of how to improve society through implementation of Universal Basic Income,” said Ping Xu, co-founder of UBI Taiwan and UBI Asia Pacific.
The conference will examine the economic and social challenges facing the Asia Pacifc region, and will assess what a basic income policy can do to address these issues, such as inequality, automation, globalization, demographics, and environmental issues.
Last year’s conference attracted 100 participants and thousands of online viewers. The conference helped bring attention to basic income in Taiwan, with the formation of a UBI summer fellowship program and discussions with the Taichung Social Affairs Bureau about a potential pilot program.
The event is organized by National Chengchi University’s (NCCU) College of Social Sciences, and NCCU’s International Master’s Program in Asia Pacific Studies (IMAS). It will be held at NCCU on March 17 and NTU on March 18. The event’s volunteers and coordinating team are part of UBI Taiwan.
“At this juncture of history where poverty and inequality are rising rapidly, I think we urgently need a “new universalism” of the kind UBI promises. There’s a long road and a lot of work ahead of us to make it a reality, but as more and more people place their hope in UBI’s emancipatory potential to protect their livelihood, human rights and dignity, we just can’t afford to disappoint such expectations,” Aubie said.
Writing Assistance from: James Grant