GGGI a first step toward new economic paradigm: chairman

The launch of the Seoul-led international organization on green growth will serve as “an important first step” for the world toward changing its economic paradigm for sustainable growth, the group’s chairman said Tuesday.

“We must act now and quickly shifting to a new economic paradigm. We can and must view economic growth and care for the environment as complementary. This is why the Global Green Growth Institute is so important,” said Lars Rasmussen, the chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

He made the remarks during his speech at the inaugural conference in Seoul of the GGGI, a Seoul-established think tank that took effect as an official international organization last week with 18 countries as founding members.

It marks the first time that Seoul has led the establishment of a global organization.

“The longer we wait to change the current economic development model, the more difficult and costly it will be to mitigate the negative effects of climate change,” he said. “Not only is green growth possible but is better than business as usual.”

He also congratulated South Korea’s Songdo, west of Seoul, for being selected last week as host of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a massive international pool of money aimed at fighting climate change, a feat seen as an international recognition of Seoul’s efforts toward green growth.

“This is a major achievement for Korea and a landmark decision for the GCF. I think the decision to locate the GCF in Korea will benefit everybody but also the GGGI. I also hope the GGGI can contribute to the success of the GCF in coming years,” said the former Danish Prime Minister.

“At this time of transition, the world needs sustainable solutions. Green growth can help people meet their aspirations while protecting the planet, our only home,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his video message to congratulate the GGGI on its official launch.

“I think this institution will serve as a think tank and a laboratory for developing countries pursuing green growth. I have high hopes for your success,” Ban said, vowing the U.N.’s commitment to “strengthening cooperation” with the GGGI.

The GGGI should be a “pioneering institute that not only outlines a vision for a better future, but also delivers on its vision,” President Lee Myung-bak said in his speech at the inaugural conference.

“As a bridge between the developed and developing countries, Korea will spare no effort in helping the international community to overcome the grave challenge of climate change wisely and in creating new opportunities for growth,” Lee said.

Under Lee’s “low carbon, green growth” drive, South Korea founded GGGI in 2010 as a think tank charged with developing strategies for the new growth paradigm that calls for fostering “green” technologies fighting global warming as a fresh engine of economic growth.

Seoul has since worked to upgrade GGGI into an official international organization. So far, 18 countries have signed onto the GGGI establishment agreement, including Denmark, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, Japan, Norway and Qatar.

During the two-day meeting through Wednesday, some 300 officials from its 18 member countries will select the secretary general and permanent council members of the GGGI, and will confirm action plans for its operations from 2012-2014 during the Seoul meeting based upon the mechanism of transferring funds from developed nations to developing ones to address climate change, the Secretariat said.

With aims to spread green growth models as alternative development strategies and to support emerging countries’ eco-friendly growth, the GGGI said it plans to devise “tailor-made” plans for each country and region, adding it is now working on 24 such projects in 17 countries, including Indonesia, Cambodia and Brazil. (Yonhap)