Songdo given a green slateThe Songdo International Business District in Incheon has been chosen as the home of the secretariat office of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Considering the growing concern and focus on climate control, the UN body, which was only established last year, could rise in prominence to match that of the International Monetary Fund or World Bank.
Korea beat Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Mexico and Namibia in a bid to secure the fund’s headquarters, and the country’s success should be celebrated in the same vein as its hosting of the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and Group of 20 summit. Moreover, the secretariat office will be permanently stationed in Korea, managing hundreds of billions of dollars in international funds to finance programs combating the risk of climate change and environment hazards.
The GCF office is expected to help stimulate Incheon’s regional economy and ease the financial woes of the debt-ridden local government. The Korea Development Bank estimates the headquarters of the 190-member GCF could generate revenue of 380 billion won ($344 million) a year as the organization will host a range of international seminars and events in Incheon and nearby Seoul. Its staff will also help spur the local services sector as the office is expected to create over 1,900 jobs. Its presence could also stimulate the program to develop Songdo’s free economic zone.
The presence of the global environmental fund will also enhance the country’s reputation. Incheon beat Bonn, the former West German capital that now ranks as an administrative center, despite Bonn’s leading role on climate issues and its experience of managing international organizations. As the climate fund’s new home, Korea will take center stage for talks and projects to promote green growth and address climate change. This comes as welcome news and another cause for celebration after Korea recently won a two-year term on the UN Security Council.
Some 32 international bodies have offices in Korea, but none of them is as important as the GCF. The government should now feel confident to pitch Korea’s case to other high-profile international organizations and improve its education, medical and cultural infrastructure to further compel them to come.