Korea-ESCAP partnership to promote low carbon green growth

Implementing a $200m climate fund discussed during high-level meetings

A partnership to implement a $200 million fund to support Asian developing countries to pursue a low-carbon development path was discussed at high-level meetings in Seoul during a visit by Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo expressed his support for the proposal during his meeting with Dr. Heyzer. Other senior Korean officials, including the Environment Minister, Lee Maanee, the Minister of Trade, Kim Jong-hoon, and the president of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Park Dae-won, also discussed the issue with Dr. Heyzer.

The $200 million fund is a key element of the East Asia Climate Partnership which was launched by Korea at the G-8 summit in July. It aims to support, over a period of five years, policy consultations for low carbon development, technology transfer, resource mobilization and pilot projects for climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies.

The fund reflects the Republic of Korea’s national vision of “Low Carbon, Green Growth,” which was declared by President Lee Myung-bak in August, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. “The world has gone through the stages of the agricultural, industrial and information revolutions,” the President said in his national address. “Now, it is entering the age of an environmental revolution. Leaving behind the era of wood, coal and oil, an age of new energy is now being opened.”

“The new vision and the partnership are very exciting developments,” said Dr. Heyzer. “They indicate a shift in development paradigm. The rapid economic growth in the region, with its heavy dependence on fossil fuel consumption, is ecologically unsustainable. As the fourth largest economy and a major carbon dioxide emitter in the region, the importance of this paradigm shift will not only be felt in Korea but the leadership of Korea will be felt in the whole region.”

Dr. Heyzer noted that ESCAP is well-placed to play a leading role as the implementing agency of this new initiative, thanks to its role as a champion of the Green Growth paradigm in Asia and the Pacific, and as the regional hub promoting cooperation, especially South-South cooperation, among member countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. “I am very encouraged by the support expressed by the Korean government to the proposed collaboration and I look forward to further discussions to finalize the partnership,” she added.

ESCAP’s Green Growth initiative, which was endorsed by a regional ministerial meeting on environment and development in Seoul in 2005, emphasizes that a country does not have to sacrifice economic growth in order to be green. It proposes policy measures such as green fiscal and tax reforms, investment in sustainable infrastructure, promotion of green consumption and clean production, and the use of eco-efficiency indicators.

At its latest annual Commission Session in April 2008, ESCAP’s proposal of a regional energy security framework – with its emphasis on shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and on improving energy efficiency – was embraced by over 50 member countries as a way to reduce carbon emissions as well as enhancing secured long-term access to energy.