Hosting of the IUCN World Conservation Congress

The IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC) is the world's largest conference on natural environment involving 180 countries, 1,100 member organizations and experts and is held every four years. The WCC presents results of research on various issues related to the conservation of the earth's natural environment and discusses direction of conservation policy and its implementation methods.

Also, governments, NGOs, and experts get together and share information in search of practicable solutions related to conservation and development, and the discussions at the Congress exercise huge influence on various areas of international environment conventions, regulations, laws and etc.

Korea expressed its intention to host the WCC at Ramsar Convention Meeting 2008 held in Changwon, Korea, and the IUCN Board of Directors meeting of November 2009 selected Jeju Island as the venue of the WCC 2012. The Congress had some 11,000 participants, and consisted of World Leaders' Dialogue as the first panel debate with leaders in environmental area, World Conservation Forum, intersession programs, and Members’ Assembly where the selection of resolution and recommendation, budget endorsement, and the election of executives took place. The WCC 2012 held in Jeju Island had its opening ceremony on September 6th and lasted 10 days through September 15th; World Conservation Forum and World Leaders' Dialogue proceeded between September7th and 11th, while the IUCN assembly was held between September 8th and 15th. Holding out 'Nature+' as its slogan and 'Resilience of Nature' as its theme, the WCC 2012 discussed five topics including evaluation and conservation of biodiversity, fair and equitable sharing of natural benefits, nature-based response to climate change, and ecosystem management for improving food security.

At the WCC, Korea submitted the largest number of proposals among all member nations, out of which total twenty items including green growth and reducing damage from yellow dust storm were included in the IUCN Resolution. As the first session for the congress with global leaders on the panel, the World Leaders Dialogue attracted huge attention and participation. Highlighting incumbent and former presidents, ministers, secretary generals of international bodies, and corporate CEOs, who could lead the environmental issues of the international community, the panel presented various discussions on climate change, food security, green growth, conservation and poverty, and natural values and conservation. The 'Jeju Declaration' adopted at the end of the Congress stated to continue the forum as a regular event where environmental issues and policy are discussed.

Establishment of National Institute of Ecology

In recent years, global warming in the wake of climate change has emerged as a major environmental issue of the 21st century. In responding to global warming, the Ministry of Environment is pushing for the construction of National Institute of Ecology (Ecoplex) that performs research on changes in ecosystems, ecological education, and public relations and exhibition. Ecoplex includes Ecoplex Main Building, Restoration Ecology Building, Ecological Education Building, a large-scale green house (Ecorium), a field ecosystem exhibition, and Visitor's Center. Korean Peninsula Forest Learning Area, Wetland Learning Area, Marshlands Hands-on, Ecological Deer Park, Plant  Nursery, etc. will be created on the outdoor space. Especially, Ecorium will allow visitors to experience  hard-to-access ecosystems by reproducing major ecosystems of the planet including tropical forest, subtropical regions, the Mediterranean, temperate climate zone and the polar regions.

Ecorium inside Ecoplex
▲ Ecorium inside Ecoplex

Expansion of Natural Parks

While the Ministry of Environment continues its efforts to increase nature conservation areas, expansion of national parks stopped in 1988 when the 20th national park was designated. Recently, the Ministry of Environment and the Korea National Park Service work together with responsive local governments, for designating a couple of new national parks.

As the first outcome of such efforts, Mt. Mudeung in Gwangju and Jeonnam area has become the 21st national park in December, 2012. Previously, Mt. Mudeung had been a provincial park since 1972, and with its upgrade as a national park, the area has become 2.5 times larger(75.425km2). Mt. Mudeung National Park has total 2,296 species including 8 endangered wildlife species, and is dotted with scenic resources in 61 locations featuring mountain peaks as well as oddly formed rocks and strangely shaped stones. Being adjacent to the City of Gwangju and highly accessible, Mt. Mudeung attracted 6.79 million visitors in 2010. The positive effect will not be limited to ecosystem protection and restoration of damaged areas, but  include regional development with financial and human support from the state.

In 2010, Jeju Island was certified as UNESCO Global Geopark by UNESCO Geoparks Network. As it shows, Korea has abundant geological heritage, but the country did not have an institutional framework for its effective management in the past. In that light, the Ministry of Environment amended 「National Park Act」 and introduced 'Geopark Certification Program', wherewith not only natural ecosystems but also geological heritage would be managed in accordance with the Act. Moreover, for the efficient implementation of Geopark Certification Program, Basic Guideline on Geopark Management was prepared while detailed standards for Geopark certification were established. Later in December 2012, the program certified Ulleungdo/Dokdo and Jeju Island as National Geopark.

Natural Scenes of Jeju Island Geopark
▲ Natural Scenes of Jeju Island Geopark

Enactment of Act on Conservation and Use of Biodiversity

In the past, wildlife, agriculture, forest, marine, and bioinformation were separately handled by different ministries, therefore Korea's legal system related to biodiversity lacked a systematic management. A comprehensive response on a national level was required by the changes in the world situation including Nagoya Protocol selected at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In a nutshell, state-led efforts were necessitated to protect biodiversity and secure biological resources for their utilization.

From this perspective, the Ministry of Environment enacted 「the Act on Conservation and Use of Biodiversity」 in February, 2012. The Act is designed to i) contribute to the enhancement of biodiversity by creating a national management system, ii) build a basis for the development of biological industry, and iii) cooperate with the international mechanisms including Convention on Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol. The Act implements the following: (1) establishment of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan every five years, (2) creation of a system for sharing information with National Biodiversity Center with a view to an integrated management of information on biodiversity, (3) creation of National Index of Species, (4) cooperation with North Korea for conservation of biodiversity and endemic species on the Korean Peninsula, (5) fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of biological resources, and (6) required pretest of alien species for any hazards to the local ecosystem.


Last modified : 2013-10-28 20:07

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