The I-Tower, which will house the headquarters of the Green Climate Fund, is seen across from Songdo Central Park, Sunday. Yonhap
By Kim Rahn, Kim Tae-jong
The selection of Songdo, Incheon, as the location for the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is expected to have a sweeping impact on the city’s profile, not to mention bringing economic benefits.
Officials of Incheon, which governs Songdo International Business District, said Sunday that the size, influence and status of the GCF is much larger and higher than other international organizations which have been located in Korea so far.
“With the GCF secretariat, Incheon and Songdo will emerge as the center for international environment activities and environmentally-friendly technology,” a city official said.
He said by beating strong competitors Geneva and Bonn, the world has acknowledged Songdo’s competitiveness as an international business zone.
Songdo was designed to offer high-tech facilities and a good living environment for businesspeople from all around the world, dubbed as “a compact and smart city.”
But it has not received the boost it needed for a long time due to lack of global interest and was in danger of becoming just another Korean city.
“During the board meeting on Oct. 18-20, the directors highly evaluated Songdo’s environment for business, residence and education as well as location — smart buildings with ubiquitous systems, foreign schools for expatriates’ children, top-class hotels, and large parks. The district is also only 20 minutes away from Incheon International Airport,” the official said.
More international agencies to move in
Besides the GCF, some 10 international organizations have already settled in Songdo, including the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) sub-regional office for East and Northeast Asia.
The central government and Incheon City are making efforts to invite more international bodies, first aiming to set up the World Bank’s Korean office, which will open next year.
So far, Korea has not been active in hosting such organizations. The country has hosted or has been selected to host about 30 bodies, but most of them are regional offices with less than 10 foreign staffers each.
“International bodies are symbols of national power and can also boost the services industry and domestic consumption. We need more systems to help invite such organizations,” the Incheon official said.
“In a simple sense, its economic impact is like a major giant global corporation entering the country,” the nation’s Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan said in a statement. He also expected that the hosting of the $800 billion fund will bring the nation numerous advantages.
“Due to various international events hosted by the GCF, the nation will see a growing demand in businesses such as hotels, tourism, transportation and finance. The GCF’s growing role will additionally create more jobs for young people here,” he said.
The nation is expected to house hundreds of U.N. workers and hold about 120 international meetings every year.
Korean companies will be able to acquire information about new projects concerning climate change and take part in them, he said.
But more importantly, experts said it will allow Korea to have more say in the discussion about green growth with other global players as well as a growing role to tackle climate change.
Many believe that the GCF is often regarded as the “World Bank” of the green growth and climate change fronts.
According to a report by the Korea Development Institute, a state-run think tank, the hosting of the GCF office will bring about 380 billion won worth of economic effects annually.
Established in 2010, the GCF plans to raise 100-billion in funds annually until 2020 to slow down or reverse climate change, especially in developing countries.