Korea's Green Growth Attracting Attention from the World


In February 2010, Korean people watched the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games with great excitement, a games in which Korea surpassed even Russia, historically a strong nation in winter sports and the next host of the winter games. The world was astonished when Korean athletes won an unexpected number of medals. Now the global community is paying attention to Korean athletes who have made remarkable strides in just over 20 years.
Korea's environmental performance has also greatly improved over the same period, also attracting much attention from the world. In the past, Korea used to suffer from severe pollution caused by rapid industrialization. In response to that, the Korean government came up with environmental policies and laws and made a huge investment in sewage treatment facilities, clean water supply, municipal waste incineration, waste recycling, energy recovery and bio-diversity conservation. These efforts at the governmental level led the private sector to invest a lot of resources into environmental technologies and industries.
Now, Korea has the environmental capacity commensurate to the level of advanced countries. On top of that, the Korean government started to apply environmental polices to 'green growth,' a national agenda of pursuing environmental protection and economic growth simultaneously. Since President Lee Myung-bak announced the Green Growth Vision on Independence Day in 2008, green growth policies have been implemented for the purposes of simultaneously overcoming the global economic crisis and addressing global environmental issues such as climate change. Currently, the world is paying keen attention to the green growth initiative, which has greatly contributed to the economic recovery of Korea.
Earth Day 2010 on April 22 will provide another boost of momentum for Korea to develop further with green growth. On the upcoming Earth Day, the biggest environmental event in the business sector will be held in Seoul, Korea, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP has been holding the Business for Environment Global Summit (B4E) annually with participants from governments, international organizations and businesses. These events are designed to encourage the business community to take a leading role in environmental issues, as cooperation with the corporate sector is critical to solving global environmental issues. UNEP also recognized Korea's green growth policy as the best available practice for its global green-economy initiative.
Recognizing the positive outcomes of Korea's green growth initiative, UNEP has decided to hold the fourth B4E in Korea in order to disseminate the successful example of the green growth initiative all over the world. In this B4E event, UNEP is pursuing cooperation among global businesses to address climate change together with many other urgent environmental issues and to turn crises into opportunities through green leadership and innovation. Now, companies are transforming the way they operate by developing new products and services to solve the world's environmental challenges and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there's still much to be done to power a global green economy.
The B4E summit is the leading international conference for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment. In the coming B4E global summit in Seoul, CEOs and senior executives from the world's largest multinationals will join leaders from governments, international agencies and NGOs to discuss resource and energy efficiency, renewable energy development, sustainable consumption and production, green growth strategies, clean tech innovation and partnerships. During the three-day conference, consisting of presentations, seminars and debates, the B4E 2010 will galvanize the international business community toward further action, highlighting the vital role that companies can play and inspiring them to become low-carbon leaders.
The B4E 2010 is going to be held under the theme of "Powering growth for the global green economy." It consists of an opening session, eight presentations including speeches, four panel discussion sessions, a parallel discussions session, a workshop, a dialogue and a closing session. On the evening of April 22, the opening day, there will be an important event during which UNEP will present "Champions of the Earth" awards to the persons who have contributed to solving global environmental problems.
The speakers for the B4E global summit will be Al Gore, former vice president of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, speaking on "Our Choice A plan to solve climate change" via hologram communication; James Cameron, Academy Award-winning film director; Nam Yong, vice chairman of LG Electronics; Environment Minister; Knowledge Economy Minister; Pavan Sukhdev, head of the Green Economy Initiative, UNEP; Pan Gang, chairman of Yili Group; and Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Group.
The panel discussion sessions are as follows: 1st session on "Green business a new growth engine for the planet?"; 2nd session on "Protecting biodiversity and leading the world towards a low carbon future"; 3rd session on "Green entrepreneurship and innovation in emerging countries"; 4th session on "The role of businesses in protecting biodiversity and conserving nature."
The parallel discussion sessions are scheduled to cover six topics 1) Breakthrough consumer change: in search of the tipping point, 2) Food and agriculture: the impact of climate change on food stability and poverty, 3) Sustainable tourism, 4) Climate-positive solutions to deliver transformative change, 5) Sustainable procurement and expanding the green supply chain and 6) Building the next-generation smart grid.
The working group session will have six group talks on 1) Business innovation, 2) ICT and the green revolution, 3) Sustainable urban development: low carbon smart cities, 4) Finance and investment, 5) Energy: speeding up the global transition to renewable energy and 6) Water: innovation and partnership for sustainable water management.
There will be a dialogue between UNEP Champions of the Earth and young students organized by CNN.
The Korean government sincerely welcomes the UNEP B4E event to be held at COEX in southern Seoul on the occasion of Earth Day.
At the event Korean corporations will introduce their cutting-edge technologies to the world, such as hybrid and fuel-cell automobile technology, information and communication technology, Smart Grid electronic technology, renewable energy technology, etc.
The 2010 B4E Global Summit will be a good opportunity to further spur green growth all over the world. By holding this important event, Korea will be recognized as a green nation and the know-how and experiences that Korea has accumulated in green growth will be shared by many countries. nw

By Kim Yong-jin Director of
the International Cooperation Office
Ministry of Environment

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