SEOUL, KOREA ― Environment Minister Yoo Young-sook acted as the chair of the 10th OECD Meeting of the Environment Policy Committee at Ministerial Levels in Paris on March 29-30. Thirty-four OECD member countries, key non-member countries including Russia, China, Brazil, Republic of South Africa, etc. Representatives from international organizations and NGOs such as UNSCD, WTO, World Bank, GGGI, etc. also attended the meeting.
According to the ministry(www.me.go.kr), she presided over conferences on how to attain sustainable growth with a green economy at the ministerial-level talks of OECD member nations. International environmental issues were discussed under the theme “Making Green Growth Deliver.” A ministry official said “The OECD asked Yoo to take the chair position for the meeting, highly evaluating Korea’s leadership in green growth.” “It is the first time for a Korean environment minister to chair the OECD meeting.”
As the chair, she presided over the opening and closing sessions. As a representative of Korea, she also introduced the Korean government’s environment protection policy and the role of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth.
Simon Upton, environment director of OECD explained the 'OECD Environmental Outlook 2050 (OECD Environment Outlook to 2050)' which was recently published. The report found four key areas that are of utmost concern. They include climate change, loss of biodiversity, water and the health impacts of pollution. Based on these findings, Mr. Upton predicted future environment conditions and presented the measures to improve the economy and environmental welfare to 2050.
Minister Yoo said “In the climate regime, it is the last year of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol in the opening. It is our responsibility to achieve sustainable development by taking ambitious policies before reaching the 'tipping point' as identified in the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050. We can examine what policies are planned or could be implemented to address the remaining global environmental challenges, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, water scarcity and other health and environment issues. You are also encouraged to look for ways to make current environmental policies more efficient and cost-effective, given the current tight fiscal conditions.”
The topic question for Session 1 was “what progress have we made on the environment and what does the Future hold” Yoo explained Korea’s green growth policies in this discussion. She added “Korea announced a "low-carbon green growth" as a proclamation of the new national vision in 2008. Since the Presidential Committee on Green Growth was also established to serve as a control tower to coordinate green growth policies among ministries, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) was launched to disseminate green growth around the world.”
Yoo presented Korea’s environment-friendly policies at session 3, including “Green Card,” a program that provides cardholders who buy green products or use public transportation with points that can be used in lieu of cash at designated public facilities.
There have been about 1.6 million Green Cards issued. In fact, President Lee became the first Green Card holder according to last month’s report. The Green card contributes to addressing environmental challenges by promoting emission cut in the non-industrial sector by spreading a green lifestyle. It is comforting to know that when 3 million green card holders achieve over 10% of green consumption, it can reduce 2.8 million tons of CO2 emission, equivalent to planting 7.49 million pine trees.
The minister signed a memorandum of understanding with Sandor Fazekas, Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for environmental cooperation. She also held bilateral talks with her counterparts from the United States, European Union and United Kingdom.
The OECD Environment Ministerial will discuss the environmental policy among OECD members which has played a driving role in establishing global order, since its first meeting in 1974. The Participants will review current policies for sustainable development and share their experiences and knowhow. In the latest meeting, participants adopted the Message for the Council on the Implementation of the Environment Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century. They also pointed out that no action on major environmental issues will result in dire circumstances.