President Lee Myung-bak, center, smiles with other world leaders during a signing ceremony held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday local time, for turning the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) into an official international organization. The ceremony took place following the opening ceremony of the Rio+20 Summit. / Yonhap
By Kim Young-jin
President Lee Myung-bak championed his “green growth” strategy as a way to address a host of global issues including the economy and environment during a major speech in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
During a busy schedule at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, Lee also signed a treaty to transform Seoul’s green-growth think tank into an international organization and pledged $5 billion by 2020 to assist developing countries to achieving economic growth via clean technologies.
"We need green growth in order to realize sustainable development in response to global challenges, including the economic crisis, the widening gap between the rich and poor and climate change," he said before an audience of tens of thousands.
Green growth is a signature initiative of Lee’s administration that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop clean energy technology as growth engines.
He touted the drive as a way to promote sustainable development worldwide but said it was up to the international community to seize the opportunity. "The best way to predict the future is to make the future we want. The future we want lies in our hands.”
The speech came after Lee attended the G20 Summit in Mexico. Dozens of heads of state attended the sustainable development conference.
Representatives from 15 countries including Lee signed a treaty to upgrade the local Global Green Growth Institute, which aims to develop ways to promote clean energy, into an international project. It was the first time the nation led a drive to create an international organization.
Korea has invested some 2 percent of its gross domestic product in green growth. The policy aims to drive down dependence on fossil fuels and improve alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Lee’s speech came after the National Assembly recently passed legislation to establish an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) a key part of the strategy _ putting the country on track to become the first developing country to do so, though observers note that many details regarding the structure of the scheme remain to be worked out.
Lee will wrap up his Latin America trip after visits to Chile and Colombia later this week.