`Rio+20’ preparatory meeting opens today
By Kim Tae-jong
Korea has aggressively carried out projects to boost “low-carbon green growth” over the past years and now seeks to share its experience with other nations for sustainable development, Environment Minister Yoo Young-sook said Tuesday.
Her remark was made prior to the Asian and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which will be held at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul starting today for a two-day run.
“The hosting of this preparatory meeting here implies that the international community recognizes Korea as an initiative country for green growth,” Yoo said in an interview. “We will share our experience with the international community by presenting examples of environment-friendly policies such as the four major rivers restoration project during this meeting.”
The four rivers project, designed to restore water ecosystems and prevent droughts and floods, was a good example of green growth and is in line with U.N. environment-friendly programs, the minister said.
Yoo said the four river restoration project was acclaimed in a recent UN report as a successful example of green growth. The project was included in “Toward a GREEN ECONOMY: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication” by the UN Environment Program.
The ministry co-hosts the meeting with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), ahead of the UNCSD, also known as “Rio+20,” which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012.
Rio+20 is a 20-year follow-up to the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) with its three main objectives — securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in meeting already agreed commitments and addressing new and emerging challenges.
Seoul plans to reflect its stance in preparing the Asian and Pacific Regional Statement on Sustainable Development through discussions with other member countries in the region during the preparatory meeting and then submitting it to Rio+20.
Yoo said green growth will provide a big leverage for nations to resolve current economic and environmental crises.
“We seek to contribute to global efforts directed toward accomplishing sustainable development by playing a bridging role between the developed and developing countries,” she said.
Vice Environment Minister Yoon Jong-soo will serve as chairman in the plenary and informal working group on a draft statement at the meeting.
The minister attended the Global Green Growth Forum held in Copenhagen, Denmark, last week as part of a “Korea-Denmark Green Growth Partnership” which was signed when President Lee Myung-bak made a state visit to Denmark last May.
At the forum, there were more than 200 dignitaries including representatives of international organizations including the U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon, UNEP secretary general Angel Gurria and government ministers from various countries.
During the two-day forum, participants discussed such green growth issues as energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric car and water management.
“I introduced accomplishments and our political will for green growth by establishing ’Global Green Growth Institute’ in order to spread the green growth worldwide and carrying on the four rivers restoration project,” she said.
“By participating in this forum, I have clearly reaffirmed that the green growth is the global alternative and ‘green economy’ is the best means to implement sustainable development,” she said.
To expand its influence, she also expressed her hope and strong will to host the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP18 in 2012, believing it is crucial for the establishment of international framework to counter climate change.
“The year 2012 bears historic importance in that it marks the 20th anniversary since the adoption of the Climate Change Convention as well as the expiration of the 1st commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore it is a turning point before the inauguration of a post-2012 framework which will be applied from 2013,” she said.
The host country of the COP18 will preside over official and unofficial pre-meetings, she said.