GGGI to bridge global green divide

Korea wants to make real contributions to the welfare of the world and is adopting green growth as its theme. Songdo has just been selected to host the secretariat of the United Nations-operated Green Climate Fund (GCF), often compared with the World Bank in the area of sustainable development.

Now, the two-day meeting for the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the first international environmental organization to be launched by Korea, will add to the country’s green credentials by reaffirming its commitment to this policy, Shin Boo-nam, GGGIambassador for green growth, said in a recent interview.

The organization will kick off inaugural meetings of its assembly and council at the Hotel Shilla in Seoul, today.

“The meeting is important as the GGGI will be officially recognized as an international organization,” he said.

Some 300 officials from its 18 member countries will select its director general, and the meeting will be crucial for Korea to promote its green growth policy.

“Each G20 member needs to champion at least one issue of global significance, and the GGGI will help us consolidate our credentials as an environmentally conscious state in the eyes of the international community,” he said.

In June 2010, the country set up the secretariat of the GGGI in Seoul with the goal of helping developing countries pursue green growth policies that will simultaneously achieve both economic development and environmental protection.

“Our short-term goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and also focus on defining a new energy paradigm based on fossil fuel substitutes,” Shin said.

Eight members, including Korea, Denmark, Australia, and Norway, have contributed $5 million to the institute each year since they joined the organization.

The mechanism of the GGGI is to transfer money from developed nations to developing ones to address climate change, and it is similar to that of the GCF operated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

On Saturday, the UNFCCC selected Songdo, an international business district in Incheon, as the host city of the GCF’s secretariat.

“GGGI is initiated by Korea, and this has drawn wide support from both advanced and developing nations since its establishment,” he said.

Since President Lee Myung-bak announced the plan to set up the GGGI at the 15th Conference of the Parties (of the U.N. Climate Change Conference) in Copenhagen in 2009, Denmark has shown a great interest and has been our good partner, he said.

“In terms of financial contribution, Korea paid $10 million to secure this year’s $40 million-budget, while the rest of the funds came from other countries.”

He said the GGGI has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment Program, the World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to share strategies of green growth with developing nations.

The developing countries also favored the GGGI because Korea is a model example of development.

“At UN and other international environmental conferences, the world is usually divided into two groups of developed and developing states, and Korea serves as a ‘bridge’ to connect them,” he said.

The think-tank has four offices worldwide, including the ones in Seoul and Copenhagen, with about 70 employees overall. The institute will form a permanent council at the Seoul meeting, and the number of workers will rise two-fold by December 2013, Shin said.