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Organizers think 'biggest, best, greenest' for upcoming environmental symposium on JejuAn interview with World Conservation Congress Korea Organizing Committee Secretary General Kim Chong Chun
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승인 2012.05.03  09:50:31
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With important milestones in Jeju’s preparation to host the world’s largest environmental symposium coming down to the wire, the Korea Organizing Committee (KOC) is finalizing its sponsors, agendas, and plans as thousands of academics, politicians, and activists descend on Jeju for the World Conservation Congress (WCC) from Sept. 6 to 15.

On April 26 KOC Secretary General Kim Chong Chun was on the island to sign a memorandum of understanding with Korean beauty care and health product company AMOREPACIFIC, home of Jeju O’sulloc green tea, as an official sponsor for the upcoming congress. After the signing, Kim sat down with The Weekly at the International Convention Center (ICC) Jeju, the venue for the WCC with a panoramic view of the island’s southern coastline.

▲ WCC Korea Organizing Committee Secretary General Kim Chong Chun. Photo by The Jeju Weekly
At the time of the interview the KOC was working towards meeting the May 9th deadline to submit motions to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the organization that has run the congress since its creation in 1948. These motions are environmental projects or laws that, if selected, will be presented during the congress to be voted on by IUCN members. If deemed acceptable, the IUCN tries to find ways to implement them by leveraging its financial and political influence. Korea submitted 16 such agendas on May 9, including the establishment of a demilitarized zone (DMZ) conservation strategy.

“[The DMZ] is the result of many years of conflict and sufferings between South and North Korea, so for the last 60 years there has been no interference of human beings,” Kim said. “That area is blessed with diverse flora and fauna so we need to conserve that area not only for Korea, but also for the world heritage.”

For an agenda to be voted into action by IUCN members, Kim said that a motion should be an improvement upon, or an analogue of, one that the congress has previously passed, as well as helping to solve an issue that affects more than one country.

“As the host country of the congress, we are making an effort developing a Korean-related agenda which also needs international solidarity and cooperation,” Kim said.

The DMZ conservation strategy proposed by the KOC is not only a peninsula-wide, nor even a Northeast Asia issue, but a global one.

“From the Korean hosting country’s perspective, the DMZ issue, I want to see the delegation from North Korea, as a symbol of peace and reconciliation,” Kim said.

The theme of the upcoming congress is Nature+, which highlights the interconnectedness between all of humanity and nature, and notes that our actions influence nature and our survival in it. The conservation of the DMZ serves as a dual reminder about the importance of protecting nature and also the need for peace between North and South Korea.

“Also, I think the IUCN has a long history dealing with those issues — those transboundary initiatives — they have a lot of experience dealing with these issues. We want the IUCN’s experience with dealing with those issues,” Kim said.

As another example of international support behind motions to be passed, Kim pointed to their yellow dust agenda the KOC submitted to the IUCN on May 9. This phenomena affects China, Mongolia, North and South Korea, and the US. By tackling this issue, the IUCN would be helping more people than just taking on an environmental concern of a single nation.

On top of forging agendas for the congress, Kim said the KOC’s ultimate job is to ensure that the congress will be a resounding success. Their yardstick? If the Jeju congress is the biggest, most efficient and influential, and greenest WCC yet.

“In regards to the scale, I expect this congress will be the world’s largest ever. If you look at the Barcelona congress [in 2008], 6,700 people were registered,” he said. For the Jeju 2012 WCC, more than 10,000 people are expected to attend.

“Secondly, we want to make the Jeju congress the world’s best in terms of quality. So what I’m trying to do is [ensure that it is] the most well organized event and the most efficient operation,” he said, adding that the result of the congress should be “meaningful, significant, and substantial.”

To accomplish their third goal of being “an exemplary model for ‘green’ congresses,” Kim said the KOC is retrofitting the main venue for the WCC, the ICC, with energy-saving film on all the windows, as well as installing solar panels on the roof, and making 50 to 60 electric vehicles available during the event.

Kim emphasized that for this conference they will try to make it as carbon-neutral as possible through the use of tablets, monitors, and smartphone apps to convey news and information.

“Those three goals: the world’s largest, the world’s best in terms of quality related to logistical matters and content, and the greenest. Those three we are now what we are trying to achieve,” he said.

According to the KOC they should know if their motions will be presented during the WCC by the end of July.
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