Environment Cooperation in Northeast Asia Region

▶ Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting among Korea, China and Japan

Since 1999, the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting (TEMM) among Korea, China and Japan has been held annually to come up with cooperative measures to tackle environmental issues of the Northeast Asia region, including yellow dust, acid rain, air pollution and hazardous wastes management. As the only minister-level conference in the region, it has served as the highest-level coordination mechanism on environmental cooperation among the three nations. A total of 16 meetings have been held until April 2014.

At the 11th meeting(TEMM-11) held in Beijing in June 2009, ministers of the three countries agreed on Ten Priority Cooperation Areas2) for Future Tripartite Environment Cooperation between 2010 and 2014, and have been implementing cooperation projects. At the 16th meeting held in Daegu, Korea, in April 2014, ministers of the three countries adopted nine future priority areas3) and agreed to make a concerted effort to prevent and reduce air pollution including fine dust in order to resolve cross-border air pollution in Northeast Asia. They also agreed to annually hold the Tripartite Policy Dialogue on Air Pollution, which was held for the first time in China, in March 2014.
2) Climate change; environmental education, environmental awareness and public participation; conservation of biodiversity; dust and sandstorms; pollution control; environment-friendly society/3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)/ sound resource recycle society; transboundary movement of e-wastes; sound management of chemicals; environmental governance in the Northeast Asia; and environmental industries and technology.
3) Air quality improvement; biodiversity; chemical management and environmental emergency response; circulative management of resources/3R/transboundary movement of e-waste; climate change response; conservation of water and marine environment; environmental education, public awareness and corporate social responsibility; rural environmental management; and transition to green economy.

▶ International Cooperation in Northeast Asia in Response to Yellow Dust

Korea demanded that summit talks, the Tripartite Environment Ministers Meeting (TEMM) among Korea, China and Japan, the Environmental Cooperation Channel in Northeast Asia, etc. should address yellow dust(Dust and Sandstorms) as one of the important environmental cooperation tasks at a regional level in Northeast Asia and take joint actions. At the Tripartite Director General Meeting on Dust and Sandstorms, held twice in 2007, the three countries agreed to form a Tripartite Joint Research Team on Dust and Sandstorms and launched joint research. Since 2008, the Joint Research Team Working-level Meeting has been held annually. The three countries have conducted joint research in Hulunbeier in Inner Mongolia, China between 2013 and 2014 and plan to use this area as a forward base for ecosystem restoration of desertification areas.

▶ Cooperation with China

Korea and China began to have full-fledged environmental cooperation as the Korea-China Environmental Cooperation Agreement was concluded in October 1993. Based on the agreement, the Joint Committee of Korea-China Environmental Cooperation was launched in 1994, and the relevant meeting has been held 18 times in turn until the recent meeting held in Qingdao, China, in October 2013.

With the accelerated environmental industrial exchanges between the two countries since 2001, the Korea-China Environmental Industry Investment Forum was held in China in July 2002. Bilateral environmental technology circuit meetings have been held since 2008 to serve as a bridge between the two countries to stimulate private investment in the environmental industry sector.

On the occasion of the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in July 2014 in Korea, the two countries agreed to conduct a Korea-China Cooperative Project4) in the area of air pollution by
4) Sharing of observation data on air pollutions, joint research on an air pollution forecast model and air pollution source identification, and human resources exchanges, etc. (the Korea National Institute of Environmental Research, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science and Chinese National Environmental Monitoring Center revising the Korea-China Environmental Cooperation MOU which was concluded in 2003, in order to reduce trans-boundary air pollution and improve forecast accuracy.

▶ Cooperation with Japan

With the conclusion of the Korea-Japan Environmental Cooperation Agreement in June 1993, environmental cooperation with Japan was kicked into high gear. Since 1994, the Joint Committee of Korea-Japan Environmental Cooperation has been held in turn annually. At the 16th joint committee meeting held in Seoul in December 2013, the two countries discussed cooperation through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), bilateral policy exchanges on fine dust, radioactive contamination response and the Northeast Asian Peace and Cooperation Initiative.

▶ Cooperation with Mongolia

At the Environment Ministers Meeting between Korea-Mongolia, which was held twice in Seoul and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2007, the ministers of both nations agreed to join efforts to cope with the dust and sandstorm issue in Northeast Asia and signed the “Arrangement on cooperation in management, research and protection of natural protected areas.” In March 2012, the two countries held a bilateral meeting to reach an agreement on cooperative projects on water supply and sewerage and collaboration on international environmental education.

Environmental Cooperation in Southeast Asia Region

▶ ASEAN+3 Environment Ministers Meeting

Since its inception in 2002, the ASEAN+3 Environment Ministers Meeting has been regularly held. At the 12th meeting held in Indonesia in September 2013, our delegation introduced the “Project for Restoring Destroyed Tropical Forests in Southeast Asia” as one of the major cooperation projects between Korea and ASEAN which has been continued for the past 13 years, and explained the current status of cooperation projects in progress, including the “CLMV5) Resource-recycling Low-Carbon Green City Master Plan Project.” In addition, Korea requested ASEAN countries to cooperate for the “Project for Building Korea-ASEAN Biodiversity Survey Capability” and “Korea-ASEAN School Education Cooperative Project for Sustainable Development” as its new projects. The 13th meeting is expected to be held in Laos in October 31, 2014.
5) Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

▶ East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting

After adopting the “Singapore Declaration Concerning Climate Change, Energy and Environment” at the East Asia Summit held in 2007, the 1st East Asia Summit (EAS) Environment Ministers Meeting was held for follow-up action and implementation in Vietnam in November 2008. At the third meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, in September 2012, Korea introduced various activities, including the “Korea-ASEAN Climate Change Adaptation Partnership” project that Korea is conducting to bridge between developing and advanced countries. A high-level environmental meeting to prepare the fourth meeting was held in Laos on August 29, 2014, and the Environment Ministers Meeting will be held in Laos, on October 31, 2014.

▶ Environmental Cooperation with Vietnam

Korea has been actively engaging in Official Development Assistance (ODA) and investment in Vietnam, and the two countries have maintained a close cooperative relationship based on their complementary industrial structure. The bilateral relationship between Korea and Vietnam was upgraded to a Strategic Partnership in 2009.

Korea signed an MOU on environmental cooperation in 2000 for the first time among the countries in Southeast Asia, and an Environment Ministers Meeting between Korea and Vietnam has been held regularly since 2000. At the 10th Environment Ministers Meeting held in Seoul in June 2013, the two countries discussed mutual cooperation measures, including the “Project for Supporting the Revision of the Law on Environment Protection of Vietnam” which has been in progress to share Korea’s experiences and know-how concerning environmental laws and policies with Vietnam, and the “Vietnam Green Growth Master Plan Establishment Project” and “Expansion of Meteorologists Exchange and Cooperation.” The 11th meeting will be held in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in late October 2014.

▶ Environmental Cooperation with Cambodia

Korea signed an MOU on environmental cooperation with Cambodia in 2009, and the environment ministries of the two countries jointly conducted the “Cambodia Environment Improvement Master Plan Establishment Project” in 2009. At a bilateral meeting held in 2010, the two countries reviewed progress of the follow-up projects such as the construction of a sanitary landfill in Siem Reap and a wastewater treatment system in Phnom Penh, and agreed to maintain their contacts over water quality improvement in the Great Lake and three cities in Cambodia. As the number of mutual cooperative projects has increased, Korea has dispatched environmental consultants to the country in 2013 and invited 10 Cambodian public officials to offer an “Environment Law Training Program” consisting of lectures on the environmental law system and individual regulations and site visits, etc.

▶ Environmental Cooperation with Indonesia

Korea is strengthening environmental cooperation with Indonesia, as it signed an Environmental Cooperation MOU with the country in 2007 and established an environment department in the Korea-Indonesia Economic Cooperation Committee held in 2011. Korea hosted the 1st Environment Ministers Meeting between Korea and Indonesia in Seoul, in November 2013, and agreed to regularly hold the environment ministerial meetings. During the first meeting, the two countries agreed to expand cooperation for water environment improvement, biodiversity conservation and training of environmental experts. As a follow-up action, Korea invited 15 Indonesian public officials and environmental experts in March 2014 to offer an education program concerning improving river water quality management and establishing a monitoring system in Incheon. The government plans to hold a workshop on Korea-Indonesia water environment improvement and waste policy sharing, and conclude an MOU on biodiversity conservation in the second half of 2014. The 2nd Korea-Indonesia Environment Ministers Meeting will be held in Indonesia around January to February, 2015.

Environmental Cooperation with Middle East and Central Asia countries

The Ministry of Environment signed an Environmental Cooperation MOU with Iran in March 2005 for the first time among Middle East and Central Asia countries, followed by MOUs with Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Kazakhstan. With Kazakhstan, in particular, Korea held the “Cooperation Seminar between Seoul Initiative on Green Growth and Astana Green Bridge Initiative” in December 2011 to discuss cooperation between the local initiatives that were in progress in Korea and Kazakhstan. Also, the two countries held an environment ministers meeting in December 2013 and discussed bilateral cooperation measures, including green economy strategy.

On the occasion of a state visit in June 2014 by President Park Geun-hye to the three Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, Korea agreed to strengthen cooperation on environmental industry and technology development in the region.

Environmental Cooperation with Africa Region

The Ministry of Environment has held the “Korea-Africa Environmental Cooperation Forum” each year since November 2010. At the fourth forum held in November 2013, 10 African countries participated to discuss waste management and resource circulation improvement, etc.

Korea is gradually expanding bilateral cooperation with individual countries in the African region. As of April, 2014, Korea has signed Environmental Cooperation MOUs with 10 African countries. Based on the agreements, Korea has held bilateral environment ministers meetings with those countries and is conducting environment improvement assistance programs in the waste, water supply and sewage fields.

In particular, the government hosted the Korea-Tunisia Joint Workshop and Korea-Africa Forum, attended by experts in the field of environmental technology, in Tunisia in May 2014, to explain the environmental technology of Korea and share environmental policy experiences.

Environmental Cooperation with Countries in Europe and America

The Ministry of Environment has signed Environmental Cooperation MOUs with countries in North America and Europe including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Norway, and is carrying on joint seminars, expert exchanges, and joint cooperation projects.

Since Korea signed an Environmental Cooperation MOU with the United States in 1987, the ministry has conducted nine environmental technology cooperation tasks, including the research on causes of poor visibility in large cities in association with the United States-Asia Environmental Partnership(US-AEP). At the 1st Korea-US Environmental Cooperation Commission, held in February 2013, the two countries agreed on environmental cooperation in eight fields, including the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and initiatives, wildlife protection, sustainable management of ecosystem and natural resources, environmentally sustainable cities, environment-friendly energy sources and climate change, and are regularly discussing detailed directions for their implementation.

Also, the Ministry has signed Environmental Cooperation MOUs with Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Costa Rica, Columbia and Mexico, and is promoting various environmental cooperation measures focusing on biodiversity, water quality and waste.

The Korea-EU Framework Agreement went effect in 2001, and Korea has consistently dispatched environmental public officials to the Korean Delegation to the EU since then. Also, the Korea-EU Joint Committee has been held in turn in Seoul and Brussels annually to discuss environmental cooperation measures.

Bilateral cooperation with individual European countries has also been active. In September 2012, the Korea-Denmark Environment Ministers Meeting was held to revise and sign an Environmental Cooperation MOU that was concluded in 1998 between the two countries. Korea is also making efforts to expand environmental cooperation with European countries, as it signed an Environmental Cooperation MOU with Hungary for the first time among Eastern European nations in March 2012, and it signed an Environmental Cooperation MOU with the Czech Republic on the occasion of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP12), held in Pyeongchang, Korea, in October 2014.

With regard to Russia, Korea has been maintaining cooperative relationships with the country since it hosted the Korea-Russia Joint Committee on Environment Cooperation in January 1995 after signing a bilateral environmental cooperation agreement in June 1994. The director of the Federal Supervisory Natural Resources of Russia visited Korea in June 2009 to attend a Korea-Russia bilateral meeting, and Korea’s Minister of Environment visited Russia in May 2010 to hold a meeting with his Russian counterpart and agreed to reinforce efforts for material and human resource cooperation in the environmental field. At the 8th Joint Committee meeting held in Seoul 2013, the two countries discussed wildlife conservation, waste management and environmental industrial cooperation. The ninth meeting is expected to be held in Russia in December 2014.

For more information, please contact us :
Public Relations Team  (mepr@korea.kr)   
Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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