Sha Zukang, the U.N. undersecretarygeneral for economic and social affairs
By Kim Tae-jong
A senior U.N. official has praised South Korea for its efforts to boost its low-carbon, anti-pollution “green economy” in the context of sustainable development, asking the country to share its experience with the rest of the world.
“I think South Korea is a real champion,” Sha Zukang, the U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs, said during an interview Wednesday. “You have invested a lot of money (for green economy policies) and you have good policies and good legislation. This is strong evidence showing how determined South Korea and its people are in taking green growth seriously.”
He said there were not many countries which “are doing as good as South Korea” and many of its policies are very successful.
As an example, he noted the country’s success in reforesting bare mountains in a comparatively short period of time.
Sha came here to participate in the Asian and Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) that opened at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul Wednesday for a two-day run.
During the preparatory meeting, member states in the region aim to address key issues and come up with an agreed regional statement to submit to the UNCSD or Rio+20 Conference, which will be held in Brazil next year.
Sha, who also serves as secretary-general of the UNCSD, asked for an active role by South Korea in the Rio+20 Conference as well as the preparatory meeting.
“You have accumulated so much experience and lessons, and you have a good strategy. The experience and lessons are very useful for the rest of the world, particularly for developing countries,” he said.
To effectively disseminate the country’s experience, the U.N. decided to open an office for sustainable development in Incheon where people can have easy access to information, experience-based knowledge and any advice they need, he added.
Sha also noted the Asian and Pacific region is very unique in terms of the green economy and institutional framework.
“The Asian and Pacific region has been very proactive in supporting the concept of this green economy. They’ve increased investment and accumulated a lot of experience and lessons because all of them believe a green economy is the only way to reach our sustainable development goals.”
Since a consensus on this is emerging with agreed principles and plans, he emphasized that it is now time for implementation of necessary measures.
“We have principles and an agenda, and we don’t have another plan. These need to be implemented and details can be worked out later.”
Lastly, he asked for public support for a green economy, noting, “Without public awareness on the importance of sustainable development, green growth, or green economy is impossible.”
“Sustainable development is for the future, for our children and our children’s children because the current way of development, the path we’re taking today cannot last long. Development should be sustainable, otherwise, there will be disaster,” he concluded.