To establish a sustainable green country based on the spirit of respect for life, the Ministry of Environment has been facilitating infrastructure innovation.
It has also been going all-out to create a healthy and sound environment, enhance international cooperation, and encourage people's participation in environmental issues.
At the same time, the Ministry is exerting best efforts to meet people's expectations and desire for the government, objectively assess the performance and limitations of environmental policies of the past, and establish a new framework for environmental policies based on that assessment.
Related to this, Minister of Environment Yoo Young-sook has decided to make a strong push for attaining three targets this year for 2011.
"First of all, the ministry will breath life back into the four rivers - the Han River, Geum River, Yeongsan River and Nakdong River - as part of our vision for the environment and tomorrow's economy. Reviving the four rivers is an important part of economic growth while preserving the environment," she said.
"Secondly, we will deal with the claims of Agent Orange being buried at an ex-U.S. military base called Camp Carroll with wisdom to lessen people's concern about environmental pollution," said the Minister.
"Thirdly, we will actively push ahead with various policies to improve environment and welfare in such a way as to win people's sympathy," she said.
Minister Yoo also said that the ministry will make various efforts to expand the green growth engine of economic growth.
"For instance, we will actively foster the domestic water industry to commercialize advanced water-related technology in order to preoccupy the world's water market, estimated to reach $865 billion in 2025 showing an annual average growth of 6.5 percent," Yoo explained.
"In preparation for heated competition among countries to secure biological resources after the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources in October 2010, the ministry is going all-out to secure the nation's biological sovereignty and strengthen competitiveness of the domestic biological resource industry," said the Minister.
"Along with this, the ministry is making doubled efforts to prevent and cure environmental diseases, reduce bad smell and noises generated in living, and impove air quality in indoors," she added.
Blueprint to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
To become a low carbon green country in 2020, Korea has set a concrete blueprint to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in 2020 compared with 2009.
"Under the target, Korea will become the first newly-emerging country to shift its greenhouse gas emission to a declining trend in 2015, cementing its image as a model green growth country in the global society," she said.
Asked about the Seoul initiative on green growth, Minister Yoo said, "At the fifth Asia-Pacific environmental ministers' meeting organized by UN ESCAP, participants adopted the Asia-Pacific regional implementation program for green growth during the 2006-2010 period at the proposal of Korea.
"Seoul's initiative consisting of annual policy forum, manpower fostering project and construction of networks is designed to spread the concept of green growth and Korea's environmental policy experiences and cases to countries in the region," she explained.
Achievements of the Eco-Star Project
As part of its efforts to develop next-generation core environmental technology, the ministry has been operating Eco-Star business teams since 2004.
"The emission-free vehicle business team, established in December 2004, invested a total of 115.3 billion won for the development of LPG liquid injection-style technology satisfying the emission standards of ultra-low emission vehicles [ULEV] and applied it to mass production of the cars for the first time in the world," Minister Yoo said.
"Meanwhile, the advanced water treatment business team, established in 2007, poured a total of 122.8 billion won into a study project and succeeded in developing membrane filtration advanced water purification system with pure domestic technology," she noted.
To upgrade the technology base secured in the water treatment and environmentally-friendly automobile sectors, the ministry plans to launch top technology development business teams, which will focus on the development of eco-smart waterworks, advanced waste water treatment technology, and environmentally-friendly automobiles, the Minister said.
Introduction of Green Card System
The ministry will issue green cards to settle down a green consumption culture and provide subscribers to the carbon point system with more benefits.
Noting that the ministry plans to issue green cards to subscribers to the carbon point system, Yoo said, "At present, 1.93 million households participate in the carbon point system and the figure is expected to increase to 3 million households in 2011."
Green card holders can use accumulated points they got by engaging in a green life in cash. The points consist of general points offered by the card company, carbon points provided by state or provincial governments, and green life points given by manufacturers and distribution companies.
In line with this, BC Card and Kookmin Card were selected as the issuer of a green card in April 2011. Almost all provincial governments and 27 companies, including Hyundai Motor, are to participate in the carbon point system.
"In the green card project, the three large marts - E-mart, Home Plus and Lotte Mart - and some small and medium-sized retailers including Hani Food and Olga Whole Food are participating. In the latter half, about 5,000 smaller shops are to participate in the project," she added.