[Outlook]Keeping Expo 2012 on track

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[Outlook]Keeping Expo 2012 on track

Early on the morning of Nov. 27, 2007, Yeosu was chosen to host the 2012 Expo during the general meeting of the Bureau of International Exposition in Paris.
Many wonder how preparations have been going since then.
The regulations of the BIE say that Yeosu will lose its right to hold the event if it does not submit a letter requesting permission to host the Expo four years before the scheduled date of the event, which means by May this year.
The plan to reorganize the government is being made before the new administration enters office. People hope the resulting controversy will not hinder the process of preparing for the Yeosu Expo.
Yeosu spent as long as seven years trying to win the bid to hold the Expo, including the years taken in preparation for the city’s unsuccessful 2010 Expo bid.
The government has repeatedly announced that the area will be economically developed and the country will become one of the world’s five top marine powers, using the Yeosu Expo as a stepping stone.
The slogan for the Yeosu Expo is “The Living Ocean and Coast ― Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities.”
But the task of preparing to hold the Expo successfully seems easier said than done.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is on the list of government offices that will be streamlined.
Four years is not a long period to prepare for an international event of this scale, but the work of preparing has met continuous delays since it began.
The first thing to do after Yeosu was selected as the host city was to create an independent organizing committee for the event. But a temporary group under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is still in charge.
A bill that would allow the creation of the organizing committee is pending at the National Assembly, and according to earlier plans, it must be passed in the special session this month.
But if negotiations over the bill on the government reorganization do not go smoothly, the bill for the Yeosu organizing committee will probably not pass as planned.
This will then give rise to problems in submitting a letter for permission in May.
Even after the special law is passed in the legislature, there is another step.
The organizing committee must become a juridical foundation, and permission is needed from the authorities to be registered as one.
The proposed new ministry of land and maritime affairs will likely take charge of organizing the Yeosu Expo, if we follow the plans that are being discussed now.
If so, a special department for the Expo must be created within the ministry and the organizing committee must be formed.
After that, the letter asking for permission to host the Expo must be submitted before May, so time is running out.
The Yeosu Declaration and the Yeosu Project will also face obstacles.
We aim to adopt the Yeosu Declaration, which states that coasts and oceans must be managed together, during the Yeosu Expo.
The duties and functions of the current Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will likely be allocated to the ministry of land and fisheries, the environmental ministry, the new ministry of agricultural products and seafood, local governments and research institutes sponsored by the government.
When responsibility is split among so many agencies, how can we find a unified voice to call for integrated management of oceans and costs in international society?
The Yeosu Project will also face similar problems.
The Yeosu Project is an ambitious plan through which we will support developing countries that are interested in the integrated administration of maritime affairs, such as the oceanic environment, technology, fisheries, ports and marine transportation.
In fact, many developing countries supported the Korean city when it bid to host the Expo because they were interested in the Yeosu Project.
But if the ministry’s functions are allocated to multiple offices, it is possible that the project will focus on only some issues due to the divergent interests of the different government offices.
Our domestic problems must not hinder the Yeosu Expo’s success.
The secretary-general of the BIE recently asked the Korean government to make sure that there would be no problems for the Yeosu Expo due to the launch of the new administration.
Whatever happens with the pending reorganization of the government, we must work together and think seriously about what we can do to make the Yeosu Expo an unforgettable global feast.

*The writer is a professor of international relations at Korea University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Chung Suh-yong
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