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Enlarged Environment Problem Into Various Problems

Korea suffered great damage from typhoon Rusa. Other countries including China and Germany also suffered from drought or floods. Natural disasters are getting worse because of environmental pollution. So, we must be concerned about the environmental problems. An international conference on the environment, World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Post met with Yu Sung, the leader of Domestic & International Cooperation Team under the control of Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development and heard about the WSSD...................................................................................Ed.

◎ Post: I understand that the WSSD was related to the international environmental conference. What is the WSSD?
◎ Yu: The WSSD was first held from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4 of this year, ten years after the Rio Declaration was announced. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the international community adopted Agenda 21, an unprecedented global plan of action for sustainable development. At the WSSD, representatives of each country tried to understand and estimate Agenda 21 and agreed to some realizable documents in the future. There were side events and parallel events as well as the official meeting. Side events were organized for the purpose of sharing experiences and increasing opportunities for dialogue among participants of the official meeting. Parallel events included an additional forum, conference, exhibition, etc. They were convened and managed by organizations or groups that are independent of the United Nations.

◎ Post: I heard that people from various levels of society took part in the WSSD. Who were the participants?
◎ Yu: Broad participation and inclusiveness were features of the summit. In addition to governments, there was active participation by representatives from business and industry, children and youth, farmers, indigenous people, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, scientific and technological communities, women, and workers and trade unions.

◎ Post: What are the differences between the WSSD and other environmental conferences?
◎ Yu: Environmental problems used to conflict with economic problems in many past conferences. But this summit regarded harmony between the environment and the economy as an important thing. Namely, the participants agreed on the concept of sustainable development so that economic growth will not destroy the environment. Most environmental conferences had a formal debate on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change every year. However, they failed to realize the anticipated result. The WSSD had a serious discussion about the convention.
The summit dealt with Governance as an important notion. Governance means that various groups have their governing system, like domestic, local and NGO's governance.

◎ Post: What kinds of problems were discussed and resolved at the summit?
◎ Yu: The summit selected five cores of agendas. They were energy, water, food stability, bio-diversity and sanitation. The summit precisely considered issues under the agendas. The main issues were extirpation of poverty, changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, sustainable development in a globalizing world and means of implementation. Most of the main issues remained unsolved; however, the World Solidarity Fund was established to extirpate poverty. Developed countries were disillusioned and agreed to increasing the Official Development Assistance (ODA). The ODA means that developed countries assist developing countries with money for their sustainable development.

◎ Post: Was there any dispute among the participants?
◎ Yu: The developed countries disagreed with developing countries on many problems. For example, developing countries insisted that developed countries should assist them for sustainable development. On the other hand, America had an opinion that individual government need to assume the responsibility for sustainable development. In conclusion, apposing opinions actually existed in almost all issues during the summit.

◎ Post: What do you think about the summit's result? And by the result, how do you think the WSSD will  influence Korea in the future?
◎ Yu: The participants drew different conclusions from each other. The NGOs and most European countries thought that the summit ended in failure. But the UN and other countries, except Europe, thought that the summit achieved success. I think that the summit didn't get an obvious outcome in such a short-period; however, it did cause a paradigm change. The paradigm includes economic development and social equality as well as the environment. It will affect various kinds of policies and the society at large. Especially, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that became powerful at this summit is going to directly affect Korea.
Thus, all nations are required to understand the importance of the change and submit, even if it is to their inconvenience and disadvantage. It is the time to introduce governance into various groups, and the existing governance must strengthen their role. All systems need to help multi-stakeholder participation in sustainable development positively through the change.

Jeong Jae-yun  dongguel@dongguk.edu

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