Climate change is a progressive phenomenon that affects all areas of society. Accordingly, Korea has been seeking climate change adaptation measures based on an integrated, systematic approach that covers all parts of society. With a growing awareness of the necessity and urgency of such measures, specific political efforts are being made, such as by formulating national plans and establishing support organizations.

Korea formulated four versions of the “Comprehensive Plan on Climate Change Adaptation” starting in 1999. The first (1999-2001) and second (2002-2005) comprehensive plans only covered climate change mitigation, but the third (2005-2007) comprehensive plan began to include climate change adaptation.

In December 2008, the “National Comprehensive Plan on Climate Change Adaptation (2009-2030)” was formulated through joint efforts by 13 government ministries, resulting in an integrated climate change adaptation plan for the whole country. The “National Strategy for Green Growth and Five-year Plan,” through which the Presidential Committee on Green Growth was announced in July 2009, included “reinforced climate change adaptation capacity” as one of the 10 major national policy tasks, and the Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change (KACCC) was founded in the same month (July 2009) for the purpose of carrying out strategic research and providing policy support regarding national climate change adaptation. The KACCC helps to formulate government adaptation responses to reinforce national adaptation capacity. It analyzes impacts of extreme meteorological phenomena, performs vulnerability assessments, and analyzes the extent of damages to provide policy decision makers with the necessary climate change information. It makes efforts to establish partnerships among the various sectors and ministries associated with climate change adaptation. In terms of international cooperation, it held an international symposium to help countries share outstanding adaptation policies and tools and provided climate change adaptation training for developing ASEAN countries.

Formulation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2011-2015)

Enforced in April 2010, the “Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth” prescribed government responsibilities to formulate a national adaptation plan, and accordingly, the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2011-2015) was established as Korea’s first legally prescribed adaptation policy in October 2010 through joint efforts by 13 associated government ministries under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment.

This plan takes on the characteristics of a master plan; a detailed implementation plan will be formulated for each government ministry based on this plan and wide-area local governments will formulate their own detailed implementation plans that account for regional characteristics. The plan will also be formulated in a five-year rolling plan format in order to ensure flexible response to variations in climate change phenomena and to reflect advancements in climate change monitoring and prediction technologies.

The plan contains 87 tasks across the 10 sectors of health, disasters, agriculture, forestry, marine and fishing industries, water management, ecosystems, climate change monitoring and prediction, adaptation industries and energy, education and promotion, and international cooperation. It involves monitoring the climate environment on a yearly basis, carrying out implementation evaluations, and reflecting the results in the plan for the following year.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2011 adopted “representative concentration pathways” (RCP) as a new climate change scenario to be used for the Fifth Climate Change Assessment Report. The new scenario predicted climate change to occur at a faster rate than previously expected and anticipated that temperature and precipitation variation in Korea will be above the international average. Compared to the previous scenario, the increase in average temperature forecast for the Korean Peninsula in 2050 was 1.4°C higher at 3.2°C, and the increase in average precipitation was also 4.1% higher at 15.6%. The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan was revised according to this new scenario and announced in December 2012.

The basic direction of this adaptation plan is to carry out impact analyses and vulnerability assessments in each sector according to the new scenario, formulate measures to give priority to vulnerable populations and regions that will be most directly damaged by climate change, and focus on identifying cooperative projects among sectors instead of measures for each sector.

First, customized measures for vulnerable populations were formulated to prevent health hazards in vulnerable classes such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and chronically ill patients who are most directly affected by climate change. An integrated information system on climate change adaptation is being built to formulate integrated policies and help private businesses to make use of climate change information. Accordingly, government ministries and institutions will mutually leverage each other’s expertise, and there are plans to carry out long-term climatechange adaptation R&D to help formulate highly effective adaptation measures. In addition to enhancing the adaptive capacity of the public sector, measures will also be implemented to do the same for industries and other parts of the private sector such as by developing a climate change risk assessment system and preparing methods to introduce a public institution (public enterprise) adaptive capacity reporting system.

The Ministry of Environment is developing a geostationary environment monitoring satellite to be launched in 2018 to reinforce climate change monitoring and prediction. This satellite will constantly monitor climate change in East Asia and the emission and monitoring of air pollutants (nitrates, sulfates, ozone, aldehydes, aerosols, etc.). To develop the satellite, the Geostationary Environment Monitoring Satellite Team has been in operation in the National Institute of Environmental Research since June 2009, and the feasibility of the project was confirmed through a preliminary feasibility study in 2010.

In consideration of the fact that climate change adaptation requires extensive consensus and participation, the Ministry of Environment has formulated and is implementing strategies to promote climate change adaptation that experts, NGOs, university students, and various other groups can identify with. It is also building a “climate change adaptation information delivery hub” to provide experts and the public with information in an efficient manner. In order to achieve this, metadata is being created on climate change adaptation information dispersed throughout Korean government ministries, research institutions, international organizations (UNDP, OECD, UNEP, etc.), and other countries, and an information provision system is being constructed for the public and expert groups.

The Ministry of Environment will continue to maximize the effectiveness of climate change adaptation policies by extending them from the central government to regional and private organizations and giving priority to looking after regions and populations that are vulnerable to climate change.

Climate Change Adaptation Policies of Local Governments

Each local government is required to formulate and enforce a detailed implementation plan on climate change adaptation measures based on the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan, and the Minister of Environment reviews the performance each year. The Ministry of Environment and Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change (KACCC) helps local governments to enhance their adaptive capacity to ensure they become the actual main entities of climate change adaptation.

In 2010, the Ministry of Environment and KACCC selected Seoul and Incheon as targets of a pilot project to formulate detailed implementation plans on local government adaptation measures. They predicted climate change in these regions, carried out climate change impact assessments in the pilot fields (health and disasters in Seoul, marine ecosystems and marine disasters in Incheon), and formulated detailed implementation plans based on this information. They went further to complete detailed implementation plans on adaptation measures for all wide-area local governments by 2012. From 2012 to 2013, they provided 35 selected basic local governments with assistance regarding the pilot project, as basic local governments will also be required to formulate detailed implementation plans on climate change adaptation starting in 2015.

Detailed implementation plans on local government adaptation measures assess current and future impacts of climate change, analyze the adaptive ability of each region to identify key vulnerabilities, and thereby establish annual implementation strategies to reduce damage caused by climate change. Adaptation measures require extensive experience and many professionals, as they must predict the impact of climate change on health, agriculture, ecosystems, and various other areas and prepare appropriate measures. Korea’s local governments often have low levels of financial independence, which limits active pursuits for climate change adaptation measures.

In this light, the Ministry of Environment distributes adaptation policy formulation manuals, operates an expert consultation team, has an adaptation policy inventory, creates regional vulnerability maps, develops vulnerability analysis tools, and offers a variety of other support programs in order to help local governments to formulate adaptation policies. Since 2008, it has also been selecting themed and joint projects for each local government to develop climate change response models that suit regional characteristics and to spread and promote outstanding examples, providing technical, financial, and administrative support.

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Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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