How GGGI can contribute to successful Inter-Korea Environmental Cooperation
The 3rd Climate Scouts
With the heated atmosphere of Peace around the Korean peninsula, lots of discourse have been raised on the way of Inter-Korea cooperation. Environment and Renewable energy are one of the main agendas for the cooperation. Although these are non-politics and non-economic part, environmental cooperation between South and North Korea is highly considered as one of the top priorities since it is related to the policy of nuclear and energy issues in North Korea and where power shortage is one of the major problems.
North Korea is a country with extremely vulnerable environment infrastructure as well as devasted forest across the country. In addition, its heavy reliance on coal energy became main cause for generating fine dust as well. Inter-Korea environmental cooperation is not only containing South Korea’s technical support to the North, but also focusing on mutual cooperation and sustainability. With various existing issues and common goal to achieve, the significance of Inter-Korea environmental cooperation is gradually drawing attention from both domestic and international community.
Although it is often considered as less important subject than other conventional security agendas, conserving and restoring natural ecosystem is very critical to sustain our life in long-term perspective. According to the research conducted by Korea Forest Services 2018, over six million tons of greenhouse gas emission can be reduced if devasted forestland in North Korea is restored. Not only the greenhouse gas reductions, but fine dust issues in the Korean Peninsula can also be reduced through this process. That is, why I believe Inter-Korea environmental cooperation can be a significant step forward to sustainable development in the region.
The first proposal for Inter-Korea environmental cooperation was under discussion back in 2002, but rapid changes of the relationship between the two Koreas made it impossible to make further progresses that can lead actual implementation. It contains the ways of providing renewable energy to North Korea, conserving demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Mountain Baek-du area, and conducting research on environmental circumstances and infrastructures around major rivers.
At the end of disconnection for 15 years, the agenda of Inter-Korea Environmental Cooperation has been highlighted again. According to the one survey conducted by Gyeongji Research Institute in 2018, ‘energy’ was selected as a top priority field that need to be cooperated between the two Koreas (52%). Therefore, it can be said Sustainable cooperation model in this context was largely chosen as a principle for Inter-Korea Environmental Cooperation.
Basically, Inter-Korea cooperation seems as decision-making process toward environmental issues in governmental level, but it does not mean that only each government can work as a significant agent. International organization, Non-Governmental Organization, civil society and else can plays an important role for sincere cooperation between South and North Korea. In this context, GGGI has a peculiar significance since it is the first international organization led by South Korean government as well as an organization which has specialized in environmental sector.
Especially GGGI as an international organization strongly aims to support and promote strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries, has years of experiences and deepened knowledge to design the programs and services in environmental sector. GGGI, indeed, is currently working on the research project about forest ‘greenification’, carbon dioxide emission from North Korea, and is exploring a plan to collaboration with The Export-Import Korea Bank which is managing the fund of Inter-Korea economic cooperation.
I believe that those efforts can work effectively in developing the infrastructures in North Korea and sharing expertise of South Korean. Through such non- conventional approaches between the two Korea, mutual cooperation toward sustainability can be gradually formed by bridging the gap between South and North Korea.