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The Republic of Korea and UNEP Pledge Green Growth Partnership

Seoul/Nairobi, 20 August 2009 - A ground-breaking partnership between the Republic of Korea and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was announced today and is aimed at supporting the country's strategy towards a sustainable 'green' economic future.

Under the plan, UNEP has produced an interim report entitled, "Overview of the South Korean Green Growth National Vision". This is an independent review of the country's "Green Growth National Vision" and five-year Green Growth Plan and is the first in a series of national and regional initiatives planned by UNEP as part of its Green Economy Initiative.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "While many countries have factored some level of environmental investment in their economic stimulus packages, it is in Asia where the green economy has seen the biggest green light. Indeed, two thirds of the global green stimulus packages have been in countries such as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia."

"Moreover, the Republic of Korea's strategy cuts across a wide swathe of sustainability challenges from renewable energy and waste to transport, freshwaters and forestry - fostering a green recovery and transforming it into a vision of green economic growth and underlining a new and dynamic strategic direction and journey that we are delighted and excited to share," he added.

The Republic of Korea launched its more than US$38 billion economic stimulus package in January this year with over 80 percent allocated to green investment and further expanded this "Green New Deal" into a full five-year US$83.6 billion Green Growth Plan.

In a "Global Green New Deal Policy Brief" published in March 2009, UNEP encouraged governments to seize the historic opportunity presented by the massive response to the financial and economic crisis to refocus public spending and private investment in so-called green economic sectors.

The report called for an investment of one percent of global GDP (i.e. approximately US$750 billion) over the next two years to catalyze a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient 'green' economy able to better address the environmental, developmental and social challenges of the new century. The Republic of Korea's ambitious package amounts to around two percent of GDP.

In particular, the Four Major River Restoration Project, which is one of the key components of the Five-Year Green Growth Plan with a total budget of US$13 billion, is expected to contribute to securing water resources, improving water quality, preventing floods, and enhancing regional development. The restoration project will also help the country adapt to climate change.

Meanwhile, the country is among several economies demonstrating international leadership on the climate change challenge. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the existing UN emission reduction treaty, the Republic of Korea has no legal obligations to cut its greenhouse gases.

Nevertheless, the country, along with others such as Mexico, has announced voluntary emission reduction targets, in the run-up to the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

The UNEP report launched today notes that regulatory and fiscal reforms will be key accelerators, providing the creative market mechanisms and incentives able to engage the private sector and the public on the transition to a green economy.

Notes to Editors:

The formulation of the Republic of Korea's green growth strategy and its five-year plan has given rise to an inter-agency process bringing together many of the country's ministries in the planning and formulation of the green growth strategy, along with a Presidential Committee on Green Growth.

This policy and institutional process is believed to have contributed to streamlining government action. This multi-layered engagement process is described in the report launched today and it is hoped it will inspire other countries towards a similar green economy transition.

Engaging the private sector and civil society as stakeholders and partners is fundamental to the success of the green economy. The process of dialogue and consultations that have taken place, with a view to ensuring that stakeholders in the private sector and civil society are able to participate in effective ways in promoting the green growth strategy deserves to be pursued and strengthened, says the UNEP report.

UNEP and the Republic of Korea have already worked together at the May 2009 East Asia Climate Forum, resulting in a "Seoul Initiative for Low Carbon Growth in East Asia". Further commitment to the region will be provided by a Low Carbon Green Growth regional report due in October 2010.

For More Information Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media: Tel. +254-20 7623084/+254 733 632 755 or while traveling: +41 79 596 57 37, Email: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Jay Dowle, Communications Officer, UNEP Green Economy Initiative: Tel. +41 22 917 8691; +41 76 586 3628. Email: jay.dowle@unep.ch




Further Resources

UNEP: Green Economy Initiative

Towards a Green Economy (Flyer)

Global Green New Deal Policy Brief

Japan and the Republic of Korea Launch Green New Deals - UNEP Press Release

UNEP: Labour Environment Unit


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