Thursday, May 13, 2010

Korea's Green Growth Strategy: Interview with Minister of Environment Mr. Lee Man-ee

President Lee Myung-bak has put low carbon and green growth as the core of a new vision for Korea. Since his inauguration in February 2008, Korea has been preparing to become a leading country in developing green technology and achieving sustainable growth, with the growing public awareness of the importance of green energy and green technology.
The country is also concentrating on supporting research and development in alternative energy and renewable energy areas, which is to transform the entire country. Now a big change is taking place around the entire country, with a strong will to make Korea into a greener, future-leading nation.
The progress on this front has been really good, and even the UN Environment Program has praised the government for these efforts. In a recent report, UNEP has noted that Korea is not only carrying out national eco-friendly policies but also leading global efforts for green growth.
It is in this context that I met with Minister of Environment Mr. Lee Man-ee, to seek his view on the environment policies. Excerpts:

-Korea will improve the quality of environmental services with which citizens can be satisfied. To this end, the country will control hazardous materials for the public health, enhance water welfare of the economically vulnerable, create high added values of natural resources including eco-tourism, advance the weather forecast service, reduce food waste and so on.
Second, Korea will advance environmental policies, contributing to enhancing Koreas profile on the global stage. In order to meet the goal, the country will provide necessary support for a successful holding of the 2010 World Conservation Congress (WCC) so that Korea becomes an environmentally-advanced nation. On top of that, Korea will advance the environmental regulation, while at the same time expanding its support for developing nations to build their environmental capacities.
Third, Korea will put its utmost policy efforts to achieve a low-carbon society. So, it will actively promote a firstcampaign for green lifestyle among the Korean citizens. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the country will strengthen its mechanism to adapt to climate change and develop renewable energy including Waste to Energy.
Last, Korea will try to remove the misunderstanding of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, which is a core green growth project of the government. By successfully implementing the Project, the country will restore the river-basin ecosystems and clean water.
-Green technologies are a prerequisite for sustainable growth. Therefore, the Korean government will create green growth engines with a view to improving the global competitiveness of Korean companies to become a global green leader. In addition, in order to meet the mid-term target of cutting GHG emissions and to commercialize the green technologies in a short time, the country will focus on the ten core green technologies including the next generation rechargeable battery, LED light/display, and high-efficient solar cell. For the purpose of creating new jobs, the country will support creating 1,000 venture companies based on green technologies by 2013.
-The Copenhagen Accord provides a direction to the key issues of the post-Kyoto negotiations, which were rather difficult for the state heads to agree upon. For the following negotiations regarding climate change, the Accord is expected to serve as a foundation which suggests political guidelines.
As a follow-up of the Copenhagen Accord, the global community will have to make concrete and practical outcome on climate change-related issues such as the mid-to long-term reduction targets, financial issues and MRV (Measurement, Reporting and Verification).
-The symbolic implications which COP 18 entails is significant as the conference will bridge the Kyoto protocol covering 2008 through 2012 and the post-Kyoto regime starting from 2013.
By holing COP18 in 2012, Korea will be able to advance its climate change adaptation policies and at the same time to alert Korean citizens to the urgency of climate change issues.
More importantly, Korea痴 profile will be enhanced as a green nation, which befits its national vision of Low Carbon, Green Growth. So the country will contribute to the going green of the world with its improved profile and influence on global environmental issues.
-The 5th World Conservation Congress will be held in Jeju, Korea for a 10-day period in 2012 with about 900 events containing the plenary session, regional meetings, workshop sessions, exhibitions, etc.
The participants of the 2012 WCC will have comprehensive discussions on a wide range of topics including conservation of the ecosystems, improvement of bio-diversity and climate change adaptation.
As a host of the 2012 WCC, Korea will lead the global dialogues on global environmental issues. In addition, Korea is expected to be recognized by the global community as an environmentally-advanced nation.
As more than 10 thousand participants from throughout the world will visit Korea to attend the 2012 WCC, Korea is expecting over 90 billion Korean won worth of direct economic effects.