Global Environmental News
‘Hiu!’ Rio +20, Mutual Understanding and Establishing An Agenda
‘Rio’ is pronounced [Hiu] in Portuguese. The name of something is the core of its identity, yet we are pronouncing the city the English way. This is partly due to the massive geographical distance and the limited understanding we have of this country.
An international environmental conference is the place where international environmental problems are discussed and new agendas are established. The most important thing in the process of understanding the problems and drawing up of policy agendas is mutual understanding and communication. Still, the various countries and organizations within these countries reveal a huge gap in the degree of recognition and differing viewpoints concerning environmental problems
The topic at the UN Sustainable Development Summit Conference (Rio +20) is ‘Green Growth, the Future We Want’. The goal is to suggest the necessity of Green Growth, as opposed to Grey [Color] Growth, on the international level. But the problem is what Green Growth is. The conference also revealed the obviously different viewpoints that participating nations had on this matter. The Korean government advertised the Four Rivers Restoration Project internationally as a successful case of green growth. But civic organizations had an official event titled “Green Growth, the Future THEY Want!” The Korean Civil Committee held an event pointing out the problems of the Four Rivers Restoration Project and the construction of additional nuclear plants, and demanded alternative plans. There was a social consensus on this matter and this is why many international NGOs, such as the Civil Committee and Won-sun Park (the mayor of Seoul), Green Peace, CVICUS-World Alliance Citizen Participation, and Peace Boat took part in the event.
The delegation from the Korea Green Foundation made efforts to find a new agenda. Ok-sang Lim (a painter) displayed an interesting placard, “Bear Today, Human Tomorrow”. It shows that the consequences of climate change will go beyond the destruction of polar bear habitats and will eventually become the tragedy of ‘we’ human beings.
In addition, the delegation attended a discussion session titled, “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Accident”, which was held by Japan’s Association of Anti-nuclear Civil Organizations, Peace Boat, and so on. A series of testimonies by the survivors of the Fukushima nuclear plant were given at the end of the discussion. It was a moment when proponents of nuclear plants and victims from Fukushima competed with each other. The vivid testimonies of the Fukushima victims were stronger and more powerful than any theory. Yes! It is crucial to set up, discuss, and communicate new environmental agendas in an international setting. But for this to happen, mutual understanding and communication between the government and civic organizations is first in desperate need.
- Chang-Hyun Lee, President of Seoul Development Institute