For the past 5 years, the Ministry of Environment has taken the lead in building international environmental cooperation partnership by strengthening sustainable development capability domestically and passing on our accumulated experience or know-how to the international community, and has promoted regional environmental cooperation projects with countries in North East Asia, South East Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa.

In North East Asia, in which Korea, China and Japan are located, drastic changes for attaining dynamic economic growth and improving the quality of life take place and require joint efforts of countries in this region. Since the 1992 UNCSD (UN Commission on Sustainable Development), the three North East Asian countries have been promoting exploring ways for environmental cooperation  through founding multilateral environmental cooperation mechanism  such as the North-East Asian Sub-regional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) and signing bilateral agreements.  Especially notable is the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting among Korea, China and Japan (TEMM) which was established in 1999. Since then, TEMM has contributed to strengthening environmental cooperation in this region. At the 14th meeting held in Beijing, China, in May, 2012, ministers of the three countries reviewed the  progress in  the Ten Priority Cooperation Areas for Future Tripartite Environment Cooperation adopted at the 12th meeting in 2010. They expressed satisfaction for the smooth progress of joint cooperation projects Recognizing the importance of  participation of private sector as well as government organizations coping with environmental problems effectively, 'The Forum for Students and The Industrial Community' was held at the 2012 meeting and the outcomes were reported the Ministerial Meeting. In addition, ministers of the three countries adopted  "Joint Communique" concerning common cooperation for solving environmental issues in North East Asia and the world including climate change, green growth, biological diversity, contamination control, environmental industry, yellow dust, electronic waste, etc. This includes the establishment of Policy Dialogue on Biodiversity among the three countries, promotion of green growth, evaluation of Korean government's effort for attracting Green Climate Fund (GCF), promotion for turning Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) into an international body, strengthening cooperation for controlling long range air pollution and coping with dust and sandstorms (yellow dust), cooperation in respect to Korea's hosting of World Conservation Congress (WCC) to Korea, the 12th Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties,  Climate Change Ministerial Meeting, etc.

At bilateral meetings with China and Japan, Korea also suggested strengthening cooperation regarding trans-boundary air pollution including fine dust to China and agreed to conduct joint research. Korea suggested strengthening cooperation with regard to asbestos safety including slate disposal to Japan, reached a consensus on joint cooperation including information sharing, asked for Japan's cooperation relating hosting Climate Change Ministerial Meeting, the 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC), etc. and Japan promised to cooperate actively. Korea also demanded that summit talks, Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting among Korea, China and Japan (TEMM), Environmental Cooperation Channel in North East Asia, etc. should deal with yellow dust as one of important environmental cooperation tasks at a regional level of North East Asia in order to prepare countermeasures since damage caused by yellow dust is increasing every year.

In South East Asia, where rapid industrialization and urbanization are taking place, the scale of environmental market is growing, and as a result, the importance of environmental diplomacy and environmental industry is also growing. Thus, the Ministry of Environment is reinforcing cooperation with countries in this region. The basic direction of this environmental cooperation can be divided into three categories: the first is about contribution to environmental conservation in countries of this region; the second is about supporting or promoting activities of Korean environmental companies in South East Asia; and the third is about seeking pragmatic environmental diplomacy by establishing Korea’s broad base of support on the international stage.

Thus, the government is giving institutional support to environmental cooperation in the region of South East Asia by regularly hosting or participating at Environment Ministers Meeting between Korea and Vietnam (since 2000), ASEAN + 3 Environment Ministers Meeting (since 2002) and Environment Ministers Meeting affiliated with East Asia Summit (since 2008). At the 11th meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, in September, 2012, our delegation introduced  “Project for Restoring Destroyed Tropical Forests in South East Asia” as one of major cooperation projects between Korea and ASEAN, suggested “Project for Building Korea-ASEAN Biological Diversity Research Capability” as a new project, explained current status of cooperation projects in progress including “Korea-ASEAN River Restoration Forum”, “ASEAN Civil Servants Training Project” and “Seoul Initiative for Green Growth”, and promised to push ahead these projects continuously. “Project for Restoring Destroyed Tropical Forests in South East Asia” is a one of the representative Korea-ASEAN cooperation projects in progress at the moment. With regard to this project, which started in 2000, the 1st year program of stage 4 from July, 2012 to June, 2013 was successfully completed with 300,000$ of Korea-ASEAN Special Cooperation Fund and the 2nd year program of stage 4 from July, 2011 to June, 2012 is also expected to be completed successfully with 300,000$ of Korea-ASEAN Special Cooperation Fund. Based on successful outcomes over the years, the government is pushing ahead with research commissioned by this region, educational program, the participation at World Conservation Congress (WCC), Workshop for Strengthening Research Capability of 4 Countries including Cambodia as important cooperation projects. Besides, the government is annually operating invitation training programs to share our experience and know-how concerning environment with ASEAN member countries. The government invited 16 people from ASEAN member countries to Korea from June 10 to June 27, 2012, to educate them about「How To Cope With ASEAN Climate Change (focusing on new renewable energy and environmental health).

After adopting "Singapore Declaration Concerning Climate Change, Energy and Environment" for environmental cooperation in the region of East Asia,  Korea participated at East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting held in Vietnam in November, 2008, for follow-up action and implementation, adopted "Environmentally Sustainable City" as an agenda and discussed environmental cooperation areas for adapting to climate change in East Asia. At the 3rd meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, in September, 2012, Korea supported the efforts of the international community for coping with climate change including Singapore Declaration, introduced various activities including "Partnership for Coping with Korea-ASEAN Climate Change" in progress to play a bridge role between developing countries and advanced countries, and promised to make efforts so that East Asia Summit (EAS) Environment Ministers Meeting can evolve into an environmental cooperation body discussing many different pending issues seeking effective solutions.

Vietnam, which signed a joint declaration of "21st Century Comprehensive Partnership" in 2001 and that of "Strategic Partnership" in 2009, is the largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) country of Korea establishing close cooperation relations with Korea based on complementary industrial structure.  Korea signed Environmental Cooperation MOU in 2000 for the first time among the countries in South East Asia and agreed to hold regular high level conferences. Environment Ministers Meeting Between Korea and Vietnam was held every other year from 2000 to 2003, but this Meeting is held every year since 2004. The 9th Meeting was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May, 2012. At the 9th Environment Ministers Meeting, the two countries signed "Implementation Agreement concerning Vietnam's Soil & Underground Water Purification and Relevant Legal System Improvement" to establish mutual cooperation framework for strengthening Vietnam's capability concerning soil and underground water laws, assessed the outcomes of three projects including "Green Growth and Cooperation for Coping Climate Change". "Cooperation for Environmental Industry & Technology and Basic Environmental Facilities Construction" and "Expanding Cooperation for Training Environmental Human Resources" agreed at the 8th meeting and discussed continuous cooperation in the future. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment of Korea held "The 2nd Korea-Vietnam Green Business Conference", at which some 200 business persons in the environmental field from the two countries participated, to help Korean companies advance into the environmental market of Vietnam and find cooperation projects.   

The Ministry of Environment is assisting and promoting activities of Korean  environmental companies in the Middle East and Central Asia countries and contributing to environmental conservation of these countries. The Ministry of Environment, which signed Environmental Cooperation MOU with Iran for the first time among these countries in March, 2005, laid the foundation for the cooperation with these countries by signing MOU with Azerbaijan, one of Central Asian countries rich in resources, in May, 2008, MOU with Kuwait in July, MOU with Israel in November, MOU with United Arab Emirates in May, 2009, MOU with Kazakhstan in September, 2010. The ministry is also not sparing any diplomatic effort for the cooperation between Korean environmental companies and nearby countries including Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan.

Africa has immense potential for developing resources in the future. However, this region, requires large scale investments in basic environmental facilities. In Africa, environmental destruction is a critical factor limiting economic development and it is absolutely necessary to cope with environmental problems. Therefore, the basic direction of environmental cooperation with the region of Africa can be classified into two categories: the first is about contributing to environmental conservation in African cooperation countries; and the second is about solving poverty problems in this region through environmental conservation, which is linked to the attainment of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Through cooperation concerning basic water management and waste management infrastructure in Africa, Korea should contribute to achieving. The Ministry of Environment held "Korea-Africa Environmental Cooperation Forum" in Seoul in November, 2010, and in November, 2011 for strengthening environmental cooperation groundwork between Korea and Africa and promoting the entry of Korean environmental companies into Africa, and concentrated its efforts on checking the demand for environmental policy and management in African countries including Cote d'lvoire, Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, etc. The Ministry of Environment has a plan to further or expand bilateral and regional cooperation with African countries.

To improve domestic environment through the introduction of advanced environmental policy, system and technology, the Ministry of Environment is also steadily promoting environmental cooperation with developed countries in North America and Europe. With regard to countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Norway in particular, the ministry signed Environmental Cooperation MOU and is carrying on joint cooperation projects like joint seminar and experts exchange. Since Korea signed Environmental Cooperation MOU with the United States in March, 1987, the ministry has been conducting varied forms of cooperation activities like 9 environmental technology cooperation tasks including Research on Causes of the Poor Visibility in Large Cities in association of the United States-Asia Environmental Partnership. As Korea-US Environmental Cooperation Agreement came into effect on March 15, 2012 (signed on January 23, 2012), the two countries established a framework for promoting environmental cooperation including environmental protection, sustainable management of natural resources, conservation and protection biological diversity, reinforcement of environmental laws enforcement and cooperation for assistance and development of clean energy. According to this agreement, the two countries held the 1st Environmental Cooperation Commission on February 14, 2013, and agreed to promote work program between 2013 and 2015. This work program stipulates 8 categories including environmental laws enforcement, multilateral environmental cooperation agreement, conservation of ecology and natural resources, improvement of public perception and sustainable city as priority cooperation areas, and the two countries agreed to exchange contact points in each of the above areas for promoting detailed cooperation tasks.

Last modified : 2013-10-24 19:52

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