Environmental Industry Emerges as New Growth Engine
Environmental Industry Emerges as New Growth Engine
  • Ahn Jeong-kyun
  • 승인 2013.06.27 02:21
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SEOUL, KOREA - With the growing importance of the environment, the global environmental industry is also experiencing a boom, which is not a surprise due to the excellent technology and experience of domestic companies. Although, however successful a company is, it is impossible to succeed all alone without the government’s aid in the global market. Korea IT Times recently had an interview with Minister of Environment, Yoon Seong Kyu, to find out the current policies will bring a brighter future to the Korean environment.

Yoon Seongkyu, Minister of Environment

What is the Creative Economy paradigm and how can the environmental industry contribute to it

The Creative Economy is a new economic paradigm designed to generate new jobs and markets and increase national happiness. It is founded upon merging technology, industry, and policy while developing human resources based on a creative shift in thinking. For a long time, regulation was considered a cost, but the Ministry of Environment plans to use environmental conservation technologies and well-preserved natural resources, and incorporate them into the virtuous cycle of the economy, with which the paradigm will be able to prove its potential capacity. For example, by advancing the drain facilities permit system, environmental improvement and job creation will become synonymous, allowing well preserved natural ecosystems will be developed into tourist contents, and thus invigorating ecotourism everywhere. Finally, by providing professional ecology services to the various needs of the public, they will develop businesses and polices that will increase the state of environmental welfare.

What is the duty of industrial circles to develop the environmental industry into a nationwide key industry

The Ministry of Environment is currently working to develop the environmental industry to increase their competitiveness in exports, and is providing systematical support such as construction of infrastructure, offering financial support, pioneering foreign markets, and supporting project order activities in order to achieve these goals. But more importantly, companies must respond to the government’s policies and develop superior technology, train human resources, and create an intimate cooperative system between related organizations and companies in order to witness their potential growth. Continuous effort for the development of new environmental technology such as technological convergence with already competitive technologies such as IT and BT should also take place. Also, in order to advance into the global market, combined forces of large company’s accumulated marketing, infrastructure, networks and small and middle company’s professionalism and technology are a must. In addition, industrial circles should work to train specialists in the environmental field who can properly apply ideas and technology to the site conditions. The environmental industry is moving away from its traditional role as contamination disposal into larger markets, and environmental industries should try to pioneer promising environmental markets preemptively.

How competitive are Korea’s environmental small and middle sized companies

Korea’s level of scientific competitiveness has improved greatly with intense R & D investment and continuous investment expansion. The result is that 9 out of the 48 core environmental technologies now rank within 5th place worldwide. In 2011, a technology development business titled Eco-Innovation was started to secure future technologies that would lead the environmental market. It is currently speculated that by 2020, environmental technology would be advanced 80% from its current state in terms of developed countries standard. Using technology competitiveness as the foundation, Korea’s exports in the environmental industry have increased at an incredible rate of an annual 30% over the last 5 years. Due to basic facilities being set in place, the Korean market has become saturated; many domestic environmental companies have had to look overseas to increase their revenue. Korean companies had gone through a compressed period of growth and through it, obtained effective methods to control environmental issues and also competiveness in traditional environmental technology, and as a result they are very apt at solving environmental problems in developing countries.

What is the background and purpose of Green Export 100

Many environmental specialists and entrepreneurs from developing countries consider Korea as a role model for the development of their country. Korea is acknowledged as a country that had successfully overcome poor economic growth and environmental pollution. The environmental market for developing countries is growing 8~9% annually, but Korean companies, despite possessing world-class technology, did not have much interest in the global market before. Through Green Export 100, the Ministry of Environment plans to support top-grade Korean companies to advance into the global environment market. Aiding includes analysis of technology demand, appropriate target countries for companies, building test-beds overseas, marketing support, and legal and accounting consultation. The policy plans to develop 100 small and middle sized export based businesses during the period of 2014 to 2017.

What are other potential environmental themes that could be industrialized in Korea

The traditional contamination handling industry has reached its limitations with the saturation of the domestic market. The future of the environment industry lies in climate control, biological resources, environmental safety, and health and knowledge service. Biological resources are considered a core component of the solution to mankind’s current conundrums such as energy, food, and diseases. The development of environmental consulting businesses is also a must to find potential growth in domestic markets, as well as invigoration of global markets. Although environmental consulting is itself a higher value added business, the real importance of the business is that it accelerates the growth of environmental companies. Also, harmful chemical substances and environmental diseases have gained national interest, and for the sake of safety and health, new substitute materials must be developed. Another theme could be reducing greenhouse gases and developing technologies that quickly respond to climate change.

What is Global Green Hub Korea 2013

Global Green Hub Korea 2013 was held in Songdo, Incheon to commemorate the establishment of the headquarters of Green Climate Fund. The event provided an opportunity for Korean companies to increase their opportunity of receiving overseas project orders. Also Korea’s excellent environmental technology was promoted throughout various activities, and many developing country specialists displayed interest in the advanced wastewater treatment technology and operation of metropolitan landfills. 227 ordering organization directors from 213 companies over 56 countries were invited, and through custom 1-on-1 business conferences, 530 projects worth $107 billion in terms of consulting were established. Compared to last year, the projects and consulting scale have grown 2.5 times and 3.5 times respectively. The Ministry speculates that the Global Green Hub Korea would open doors of opportunities to domestic companies when advancing into the blue-ocean global environmental market.

What are the current policies the Ministry is enforcing to reduce greenhouse gases

The current government is planning a specified roadmap to deliver the promised quota of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. With the recent increase of greenhouse gases and the conditions of greenhouse emitting coal-fired power plants being reconsidered, the Ministry of the Environment has established a joint working party with the Greenhouse Gas Inventory & Research Center of Korea to implement an effective plan. Furthermore, the greenhouse gases objective management system has been put into place, which is targeted towards large-scale businesses responsible for 60% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015, this system will be transitioned to a tradable permit system, and is speculated to reduce emission costs by 44~68% compared to the previous policy.

What upcoming international environmental events is the Ministry planning to participate in

The Ministry of Environment plans to hold the 8th Seoul Initiative policy forum from 7.3 ~ 7.5 in Kyungju. Seoul Initiative is an official program run by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP), and the topic for the this year’s forum is Biodiversity for Sustainable Development, and environmental policy makers, from Asian and Pacific developing countries, international organization participants, and also Korean academia and industrial circles.

We will also participate at UN General Assembly in September, where the first high level forum for environmentally sound and sustainable development will be held. This forum was founded by agreeing upon sustainably development goals at the 2012 Rio+20 summits. The Ministry will also collect opinions from domestic companies, academia, and NGO and contribute to the sustainable goals of the UN.

The 19th conference of parties of the Climatic Change Convention will be held in Warsaw, Poland in November. Based upon Korea’s industry structure and current emissions, a response strategy to the new climate system that will be implemented after 2020 is to be established. The Ministry of the Environment will plan negotiation strategies with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade to effectively manage this new system.

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