Sharing seen as the key to substantial green growth

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Sharing seen as the key to substantial green growth


Lars Rasmussen, chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute.

Green growth is all about sharing resources in a fair and efficient way, said Lars Rasmussen, chairman of the Global Green Growth Institute.

The GGGI, an international organization that has its headquarters in Seoul, will help provide a new paradigm where resources are spent in a more productive, reasonable and sustainable way, he added.

“There will be an enormous demand for growth in the future,” Rasmussen said in an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily last week. “But we have limited resources, and what we need to do is combine these two by sharing resources in a fair way.”

Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister, was elected as the new chairman of the GGGI’s board of directors in May, succeeding former Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo.

The GGGI was founded in June 2010 under President Lee Myung-bak’s green growth initiative to share experiences of environmentally-friendly development. It currently has overseas offices in Copenhagen, Abu Dhabi and London.

Q. How should we define green growth?

A. From my perspective, it’s about well-being. The global population is increasing and, at the same time, the world is becoming smaller due to modern communications technology. So you have very easy access to information about how people in other countries live, and what kind of living conditions they have. And for that reason, everybody wants to copy each other. Why shouldn’t a family in Africa crave the same access to education as people have in Korea? There will be enormous demand for growth in the future, but we have limited resources. The idea of green growth is simply an attempt to answer this challenge. We need to introduce some kind of new paradigm where we spend our resources in a more productive and reasonable, sustainable way.

With the GGGI’s shift from being a local institution to an international organization, what changes in activities will be there?

There will not be any significant changes. The content will be the same, but the scale will be enlarged. We have tripled the funding and we have increased the number of staff [over the past two years] and it is in our strategy that we’ll do the same thing in the next year or two. We are just 66 people working in GGGI, most of them in Korea, and this number will be doubled in two years. That will give us more capacity, of course, so we can outreach to even more countries in the world. [The status of GGGI will be upgraded in October, after 16 countries signed a convention at the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil in June.]

What factors have contributed to such rapid growth?

In this environment, Koreans introduced the idea of creating something totally new, bringing countries together in an organization which is linked or created on a bottom-up approach. That’s what the world actually demanded at the time when the GGGI was founded. What we can offer is assistance and real partnership in countries. It’s also a very important step in the history of this institute to convert into an international organization and to become even more mature. I would say it’s due to Korean efficiency, which enabled us to mature so quickly. It’s important because there is increasing demand for assistance from our institute worldwide, and in order to be competitive with other actors on the global scene, we need to take this move and truly show the world that we’re now a fully-fledged international organization.

How did the euro zone crisis affect the GGGI?

It affected the appetite, if you could say so, in many European Union countries because it goes without saying that when you’re facing unemployment, when you’re in recession, there could be a tendency to be not so idealistic. But still, problems will not disappear, so you still have to face climate change problems. And I’m pleased to say that many European Union countries have remained committed to this during the crisis.

Norway, one of our important partners, for example, supports huge projects in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Germany is also an example of a country which, during the economic crisis, has invested more in renewable solar energy. Perhaps the crisis has emphasized the need to link the ideas of sustainable job creation and growth. That’s perhaps the lesson learned from the crisis. Another aspect linked to the crisis is that it has created a shortage of taxpayers’ money that can be spent. And that has led to a situation where many ministers of finance around the world must make sure that taxpayers’ money is spent in the most efficient way possible. When there is a shortage of money, this is even more important. What we can offer, as a new international organization, is that kind of framework where you can be sure that your money is being spent in an efficient way.

By Lee Eun-joo []

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