Korea Green Foundation News
Symposium Marking 30 Years of Environmental Movements in Korea
- 8 Goldman Prize Winners from the Asia-Pacific Region Agree Upon a Green Asia Forum
This year marks the 30th year since the first environmental movement in Korea. After the Korea Pollution Research Institute was founded in 1982, environmental movements have grown along with democracy. Korea in the 1980s was under military rule, and in the 1990s, a number of environmental groups sprouted around the country. The Symposium Marking 30 Years of Environmental Movements in Korea was held at the international conference hall of the KCCI (Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry) to celebrate the birth of organizational environmental movements in Korea.
The symposium was a joint project of the Korea Green Foundation and the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement where over 600 people including environmentalists, experts, corporate and organizational members, citizens and students who share a common cause participated in a two day event.
The first part of the event, held on May 30, was titled “30 Years of Environmental Movement in Korea and What is Next?” Yul Choi, The President of the Korea Green Foundation remarked, “through environmental movements, the Dong River was saved and Taiwanese nuclear waste material was kept from being exported into North Korea.” He also said that he hopes that the symposium will be our compass for the upcoming 30 years ahead of us.
Father Sewoong Ham the first board member of the Korea Pollution Research Institute in 1982 supported the symposium saying, “It all started in a small room in a church. And now it grew into what we all share today.” Wonsoon Park, the Mayor of Seoul, honored the event in his video message, “30 years ago, environmentalism was like a prophet and a pioneer. Very few people realized how important it was. Now, the city of Seoul will join in your efforts to create a great future for the next 30 years.”
On the eve of the first part of the symposium, people gathered at a reception to celebrate 30 Years of Environmental Movement in the courtyard of an old building in Anguk-dong, Seoul. Jangsaik, a Korean musician well known for his music that embodies the true Korean sentiment, performed and created a harmonious gathering for Asian environmentalists.
7 Goldman Prize Winners, the Nobel Prize for Environmentalists Have Enthusiastic Debates -- 2nd Part of the Symposium Marking 30 Years of Environmental Movements in Korea
The second part of the international symposium was held on May 31st with the title, “The Current Status of Environment Problems in Asia and Prospects of Future Cooperation.” All overseas participants were winners of the Goldman Prize in Asia, which is known as the Nobel Prize for environmentalists. The participants are actively working in 7 countries including China, the Republic of Palau, and Indonesia. They brought with them ideas to lay as foundation bricks for solidarity among Asian countries.
Dai Qing from China took part in the debate. Dai Qing is a renowned environmentalist recognized for her outspoken opposition (which has postponed the Chinese government’s plans to build the Three Gorges dam) and for her book, Yangtze! Yangtze! In the debate session, she inspired the audience with a powerful speech saying, “the dam shouldn’t block the river. Just as the Great Wall blocked the lands, the vast Three Gorges dam will block our rivers.”
Prigi Arisandi, an Indonesian who is the head of ECOTON (Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation), noted that “many corporates from Korea and Japan have entered Indonesia. Unfortunately, they do not care about the issues concerning water and the environment,” and called for joint efforts with environmental organizations in Korea
All the environmental activists from Asia who were present voiced the necessity of solidarity in Asia. After the symposium, seven Goldman Prize winners met with Yul Choi, the president of the Korea Green Foundation who is also the 1995 Goldman Prize winner, for several rounds of discussions. The debate served as an opportunity to share the status quo of the environment in each country and draw a consensus on joint prospects. The eight key participants shared their passion and expertise, and agreed to carry on their solidarity to initiate the Green Asia Forum on June 1, 2012. Members will visit each country and publish newsletters. The following is the Statement of the Green Asia Forum. (file attached*)