Capping years of efforts by the government of President Lee Myung-bak to fight climate change and develop more energy-efficient products, South Korea was chosen last Saturday to host the U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF) that envisions to channel US$100 billion a year to help poor countries fight global warming by 2020.
Also this month, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a South Korea-established think tank on green growth, was launched as a full-fledged international organization and its inaugural plenary session is being held in Seoul this week with delegates from its 18 signatory countries in attendance.
The 18 signatory countries are: South Korea, Australia, Denmark, Qatar, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Britain, Papua New Guinea, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Paraguay, Guyana, Kiribati, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico.
Since he took office in 2008, President Lee has actively pursued a policy of creating an environmentally friendly growth policy, implementing various measures, including the establishment of a state-run research institute, called the Green Technology Center (GTC) to develop low-carbon products.
"For green growth to truly take root as a global development paradigm and for there to be real changes on the ground, we must establish a clear strategy for green growth, and that needs to be supported by the requisite technology and funding," South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in a recent speech.
Kim called the GGGI, GCF and GTC a "Green Triangle" that will allow global governments to "effectively coordinate policy, technology and funding in green growth, thereby creating positive synergy effects."
The minister noted South Korea's role in making efforts for green growth to truly take root as a global development paradigm and the need to fight climate change.
With the "three pillars" of green growth, Kim said South Korea aims to become a "driving force in promoting cooperation between developing countries, and in realizing the idea of green growth in every corner of the globe."
Citing his recent visit to Greenland, where much of its thick glaciers have melted away, Kim urged the international community to "come together on this grave challenge to humankind."
In a May report this year, the World Bank warned that global governments, not just rich nations but also developing economies, must pay attention to the environment.
"Rapid growth is necessary to meet the urgent development needs of the world's poor. But growth will be unsustainable in the long run unless it is both socially inclusive and green," the report said.
There is no single green growth model and green growth strategies will vary across countries, reflecting local preferences and contexts.
"Any single set of the 'best practices' should be imported with care," the report said. "Nonetheless, all countries, rich and poor, have opportunities to make their growth green more inclusive without slowing it."