‘Making future we want together’ (39)
The following is an edited version of remarks by President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday morning KST. – ED.
Since the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development was held 20 years ago, we are now witnessing the successful opening of the summit here in Rio de Janeiro. So I would like to offer my congratulations.
In the 20 years since, the world has experienced many changes.
The accelerated pace of the global economy has greatly increased the size of the global economy. On the other hand, as we can see from the recurring crisis and polarization, we are experiencing not just opportunities for growth but also vulnerabilities.
However, a greater change is taking place. And that is global warming.
The rapid pace of climate change is shaking the very nexus of life, from water to energy to food resources. Desertification is spreading rapidly while biodiversity is rapidly decreasing. Surely, this is not the future we dreamt of at Rio+20 years ago. Surely, this is not the legacy we intended to bequeath to our future generations.
We need a new way of thinking and acting, and a new concentration of our efforts.
It is for this reason that the Republic of Korea chose a new path for itself. In 2008, the first year that I took office as President, I declared low carbon, green growth the new development paradigm for Korea.
Thinking outside the box
Green growth is thinking outside the box to respond climate change and to solve energy and environmental issues in a way that the solution itself becomes a new growth engine and a new way of life. To this end, the Presidential Commission on Green Growth was established and a green growth five-year plan that comprises all administrative agencies was formulated, and in which we have invested 2 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) annually.
We launched a policy council encompassing industry, finance, science and technology and NGOs (non-government organizations) to expand public-private partnership. As a result, although we still have some way to go, many changes as well as innovation are taking root in Korea.
Surpassing party lines
The Basic Act on Green Growth and the act on greenhouse gas emission trading were both passed through cooperation surpassing party lines in the National Assembly.
Green industries and technologies, including new and renewable energy, are going through rapid development.
Korea's project to improve the water infrastructure helps us overcome floods and droughts successfully and prepares us against extreme weather whose probability of occurrence is once in two centuries.
Also a new 1,800-kilometer-long riverside bicycle track has been laid so that cyclists can ride across the nation, which is a new turning point for green life.
The shift from highways to high-speed railways is taking place, and the era of electric automobiles has begun. The popularity of green buildings is spreading throughout local communities, and some local governments are taking one step further to build a clean development mechanism for their cities working with UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme).
Even in the midst of the global economic crisis, this “green new deal” policy has led to job creation for 750,000 people during the past three years. Many of the newly created jobs helped the lower income class.
From this perspective, green growth is an inclusive action strategy that implements the three goals of sustainable development, namely, economic development, social cohesion and environmental conservation.
The challenges that confront us are global in nature and that requires our response to be global in scale. It is against this backdrop that we share the common destiny that the global green growth institute was launched two years ago.
With the support of the international society and thanks to passionate participation of many, the GGGI (Global Green Growth Institute) which was launched to mobilize international cooperation for green growth and to support developing countries has evolved into what it is today, and we will have an official signing ceremony tonight (Wednesday local time) here in Rio de Janeiro to convert it into an international body.
On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest appreciation to all the like-minded people for their warm support.
Energy efficient power generation
I pledge to you that GGGI, as a strategic cooperative body for prompting collective actions, will make the utmost efforts to become an enduring asset of the international society. GGGI, through green growth knowledge platform launched together with the World Bank, UNEP and the OECD, will strive strenuously to systematically disseminate green growth.
Starting next year in particular, the Korean government plans to expand the total size of green ODA (official development assistance) to $5 billion by 2020 and use this as a basis to deploy global green growth partnerships following the East Asia Climate Partnership, scheduled to end this year.
Through this, we will provide focused and targeted support for areas such as energy efficient power generation, power grid development, renewable energy and energy storage system, green transport and buildings as well as water and agricultural infrastructure development.
In addition, the Green Technology Center which was established this spring in Seoul will be fostered as a bridge for technology cooperation while a platform for training and education will be strengthened to nurture global talent.
Green climate fund
To achieve sustainable development through green growth and to achieve a transition to green economy, we need a strategy, technology and, most of all, the resources that are supportive.
In this regard, I highly evaluate the agreement reached at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Durban, South Africa, at the end of last year on the establishment of green climate fund.
What remains to be done now is to successfully launch the green climate fund so that a green triangle that links strategy, technology and resources works organically.
The Republic of Korea, for its part, will stay fully dedicated to ensure that this triangle reaches beyond advanced and developing countries alike to become the architecture for all.
We will pull energy and wisdom of the international community together so that new jobs and opportunities for growth can spread evenly and continuously across the world.
There is a saying that the best way to predict the future is to make the future in a way we want.
That is correct. The future we want is in our hands.
Let us not forget. It is us that is stopping us, and it is us that is moving us to the future we want.