By Yi Whan-woo
Songdo has all the right conditions to host the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) under the wing of the United Nations, according to Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil.
“Songdo can best serve as a bridge to connect advanced and developing nations, an important condition for the host city,” he said in an interview with The Korea Times.
Top decision-making delegates are scheduled to visit the city from Oct. 18 to 20 and will be given a chance to tour Songdo, Incheon’s brand-new international business district.
The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decided to set up the GCF during its meeting at Cancun, Mexico, in December 2010.
The fund plays a role in transferring funds from developed to developing countries to help them limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight climate change.
The GCF is tentatively located in Bonn, Germany, one of three strong candidates along with Songdo and Geneva, Switzerland, to host the secretariat. Mexico, Namibia and Poland are also bidding to host it.
The meeting in Korea will tentatively decide the host before the UNFCCC makes a final decision during its 18th congress in Doha, Qatar, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7. Among the 195 UNFCCC-member countries, 200 directors from 48 countries, including the United States, China, Indonesia and Zambia, will attend the meeting.
“In my opinion, the meeting here will play a key role for the decision in Doha, and this will be a chance to draw support from the UNFCCC members of both advanced and developing countries,” Song said.
“While a number of international organizations are located in Europe and North America, the participants will be able to see that Korea, which went from rags to riches in its modern history, is capable of having such agencies,” he said.
He added that Songdo faithfully carries out green policies coupled with its excellent information technology and financial infrastructure.
“We’re living up to all expectations of UNFCCC in terms of a low-carbon and eco-friendly environment, as the recycling of water will reach 40 percent by 2020 and the recycling of waste, 76.3 percent,” the 49-year-old said.
He pointed out that Songdo has already succeeded in hosting 10 international organizations, including the East Asia and Northeast Asian sub-regional office of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
“One of the reasons that made this possible is because the urban district is close to Incheon International Airport, connecting Korea to 182 cities around the world.”
“And once we host the GCF office, we’ll provide 15 floors of the 33-story I-Tower that will be exclusively used for the U.N. organizations,’’ he said. “We’ll complete building the tower by 2013 and it will be equipped with high-speed Internet and other gadgets to provide business-friendly environment.”
The GCF plans to raise up to $800 billion by 2020, and the possible establishment of its headquarters in Songdo will generate economic benefits worth 400 billion won ($358 million) each year, according to Song.
“I’d say Songdo will then be able to emerge as an influential city such as New York City, where the U.N. is located,” he said. “The financial impact will be comparable to hosting the Olympics, such as the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, and the area will grow into a global financial center.”