The Korean government has led the establishment of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) as part of its efforts to spread the green growth agenda and to contribute to the international community’s cooperation toward a green economy. Established in 2012 as an international organization, GGGI has expanded its membership to 43 states with the accession of Bahrain in March 2022. GGGI is assisting developing countries in addressing climate change, establishing and implementing green growth strategies and capacity building. GGGI strengthened its recognition as an international organization when it was granted Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligibility status by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) in June 2013 and received United Nations General Assembly observer status in December 2013. Furthermore, GGGI heightened its competitiveness by qualifying as a Public International Organization (PIO) eligible for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financing opportunities and was awarded an A+ rating by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in its Annual Review.
The Korean government has actively engaged in GGGI meetings and consultations with the Secretariat as well as member states to support GGGI’s efforts to improve its project implementation and governance. As Vice-chair of the Assembly and Council of GGGI and Audit Contact Point, Korea has made constructive efforts towards GGGI’s efficient decision-making and transparent organizational management. Meanwhile, the Korean government will continue to support GGGI so that it may become an even more competitive international organization leading global green growth.
Korea is engaged in the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) initiative to promote public-private partnerships in the development of the green economy. P4G focuses on five key areas of the green economy ― namely, food and agriculture, water, energy, cities, and the circular economy ― in which it seeks to strengthen cooperation between the public and private sectors and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement and achievement of the SDGs. P4G was officially launched at the initiative of Denmark in September 2017 on the occasion of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly and as of 2020, 12 country partners ― Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico, Viet Nam, Ethiopia, Chile, Kenya, Colombia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and South Africa ―, international organizations, businesses and civil society such as C40 (Cities Climate Leadership Group), Global Green Growth Institute, World Economic Forum, World Resources Institute, and International Finance Corporation are participating.
President Moon Jae-in attended the inaugural P4G Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in October 2018 and, in his keynote speech, underscored international solidarity and inclusiveness for overcoming the environmental crisis. At the UN Climate Action Summit and “Winning Together: Sustainability in Action,”a P4G side event in New York in September 2019, President Moon announced that Korea would host the second P4G Summit in Seoul in 2020. Although the Seoul Summit had to be postponed due to the global spread of COVID-19, President Moon announced in his keynote speeches at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and the Jeju Forum in late 2020 that Korea was planning to host the second summit in 2021 as part of its firm commitment to contribute to the global climate response and the SDGs through action and implementation. The P4G Seoul Summit took place on May 30-31 under the theme of “Inclusive Green Recovery Towards Carbon Neutrality,” creating momentum in the international community for strengthening global solidarity and climate action to build back better and greener in the post-pandemic era.
The Korean government also launched the P4G National Platform in 2018 as a channel for fostering public-private partnerships and facilitating knowledge sharing and networking. Korea continues to play a key role in the operation of P4G including through regular meetings of the Board of Directors.
The environmental challenge we face encompasses a wide range of issues concerning air, ecosystems, oceans, hazardous waste and chemical substances, forestry and land, among others. To address such diverse and comprehensive issues, more than 160 environment-related international conventions are in effect with the support of the UN and the OECD. Korea has acceded to a number of leading international conventions on environmental protection and has taken part in the discussions on, and response to, global environmental issues such as the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, protection of marine ecosystems, and international management of chemical and toxic substances.
Korea has actively participated in multilateral environmental cooperation such as the G20 Environment Ministerial Meeting in September and the sixth session of the ESCAP Committee on Environment and Development, even though a number of international environmental meetings were postponed or held online amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Korean government promulgated Amendments to the Annexes to the Stockholm Convention in March 2020 and the Minamata Convention on Mercury in March 2020 to strengthen its cooperation with the international community in protecting people and the environment from the risk of mercury and mercuric and persistent organic pollutants.
The global discussion on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity currently revolves around the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, or the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, ends in 2020 and will be replaced by a new framework. Negotiations are underway to develop a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and Korea has submitted its views based on its consultations with diverse stakeholders, organizations, and experts. Korea also participated in the 2nd Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CBD held on November 16-27, 2020 and the Special Virtual Sessions of two subsidiary bodies, the SBSTTA and the SBI, of CBD held on September 15-18, 2020 to take part in the process for developing a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
The Korean government also continued working on reducing marine debris, especially marine plastic waste, which has become an important environmental agenda in the international community. Korea participated in various international meetings such as the 4th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics in November 2020 to introduce Korea’s plans to reduce marine plastic waste. Moreover, in 2022, the 7th International Marine Debris Conference will be held in Busan in collaboration with UNEP to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation to this end.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the “Green Round Table” in November 2016 to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation between international organizations and domestic agencies related to climate change, environment and green economy issues. By 2020, seven rounds of the Green Round Table were held.
When Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark visited Korea, celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties between Korea and Denmark, the fifth Green Round Table held in Seoul on May 21, 2019. Under the title of ‘Korea-Denmark Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) Seminar’, sessions of the fifth Green Round Table focused on facilitating private-public partnerships and sharing best practices. Participants also discussed measures on addressing circular economy, water, sustainable cities and clean energy.
The Sixth Green Round Table, which took place in Seoul later in the year on September 6 2019, was an opportunity to discuss climate change issues with the next generation in preparation for the beginning of a new climate regime in 2020. The round table took the form of a mock climate change negotiation for students in separate sessions on mitigation, finance, and adaptation under the overarching theme of “Implementation of the Paris Agreement by Green Insiders."
Amid the growing interest in green economic recovery policies domestically and internationally, the Seventh Green Round Table was held under the theme ‘Green New Deal and its potential in Post-COVID-19 recovery’ in Seoul on June 24 2020. It provided an opportunity to explore the linkage between the Green New Deal policy and the long-term efforts to address climate change and achieve sustainable development goals, and to share developments in the international discussion in the area.
The Green Round Table meetings have helped to promote cooperation between diverse environment-related international organizations and relevant public and private institutions in achieving the green economy and the SDGs while providing more opportunities for students to take part in the discussions on the environment.