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[2012] Mayor’s Speech

  • A Seismic Shift in Seoul toward a Sustainable Future

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    Special Speech at the Luncheon Meeting of the WBCSD Seoul 2012

    Date: October 31, 2012
    Venue: Sapphire Room, Lotte Hotel

    Hello ladies and gentlemen,

    Thank you so much for coming to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Seoul 2012. I am Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul.

    I am very pleased to be hosting in Seoul the world’s most authoritative annual business summit, where nearly 200 CEOs from all around the world seek business solutions for sustainable development. I wholeheartedly welcome all of you, as key partners in global social innovation.

    Last June, the Rio+20 Summit finally selected the draft agreement titled, “The Future We Want.” This represents an opportunity has been given to all of us once again. In fact, the environment, which had been discussed actively in the 1990s, was not discussed further in the 21st century due to an array of political and economic agendas. As such, for the past 20 years, the condition of the global environment has deteriorated significantly in almost every area, posing a threat to not only the lives of human beings but also the lives of all living creatures on Earth.

    For this reason, Stephane Hessel, author of “Time for Outrage,” suggested a new concept in his book titled, “Get Involved”. According to Hessel, a “sustainable tomorrow” is centered on human perspectives, and advises that we establish political and economic policies based on the issue of “whether the earth is sustainable,” before it is too late, and that we design our own lives accordingly.

    Of course, whether we agree with him fully is not important. What we seriously need to consider is the fact that the environment now poses a great threat to our sustainable development and the foundation of the livelihood of all humans.

    Last summer, climate change, which is threatening the Earth’s sustainability, hit Seoul hard. Many areas in downtown Seoul were flooded by torrential rain that came down at up to 113 millimeters per hour, causing landslides that claimed the lives of several citizens. The truth is, the root cause of climate change and such resulting tragedies is, disappointingly, human beings.

    The energy consumption of the 10 million citizens of Seoul amounts to 17 million TOE, but Seoul’s electricity self-sufficiency rate is only 2.8 percent. The city’s production of renewable energy is minimal, accounting for merely 1.5 percent of all energy resources. This goes against everything that energy democracy stands for.

    Under these circumstances, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has initiated a great shift with the goal of becoming an “energy-conscious city”. Seoul aspires to become a sustainable, energy self-reliant city, rather than an energy-consuming city.

    To achieve this goal, the Seoul Metropolitan Government launched a campaign last April under the slogan, “One Less Nuclear Power Plant”. This campaign aims to reduce energy consumption by 2 million TOE, which is equivalent to the energy produced by Korea’s largest nuclear power plant. By conserving energy and increasing energy efficiency and Seoul’s production of renewable energy, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to increase Seoul’s electricity self-sufficiency rate to 8 percent by 2014 and 20 percent by 2020.

    However, the goal of this project cannot be achieved through only the efforts of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. First, all of you here today should put your knowledge and wisdom together in support of the success of this new initiative. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will make every effort to secure “sustainable development” for everyone, as well as the “sustainable development of tomorrow”.

    It is my hope that the citizens of Seoul will also join forces to realize these goals. Actually, the citizens, as well as civic groups, NGOs, and several companies have already begun to participate in this initiative with a variety of creative ideas.

    In particular, companies are playing a pivotal role in this movement. Numerous companies have promised to invest in the renewable energy sector, the costs of which are considerably high, while also increasing the energy efficiency of their large-scale facilities. I hope that a series of such initiatives and promises gives birth to energy governance in Seoul.

    Since the adoption of the “Corporate Social Responsibility” concept in 1992, a growing number of companies have been practicing environment management in the workplace. However, today, many companies consider this concept to be one of the prerequisites for strategic management.

    It is a global phenomenon. Issues, such as environmental protection and resource development, which used to be addressed only by governments and the public sector, are now being handled by multinational corporations. Corporate interests, the environment, and countermeasures for climate change are no longer separate. Through creative ideas, companies can raise their competitiveness, improve their images, and contribute to society and the environment.

    I know many corporations that have improved the conditions of a city by actively responding to environmental issues and securing unique competitiveness. The London Array Wind Farm is a good example of power generating facilities built based on corporate technology, and it is expected to provide renewable energy to 480,000 households in the U.K. There has also been a case where a smart city was created by integrating sustainability with IT services, thereby improving the water management system and reducing energy consumption and costs.

    Furthermore, one company has improved energy accessibility through a project that provides affordable solar cell-powered products to underdeveloped countries, and another company has created insurance products and developed services to address climate change risks. As these examples show, there are many companies that have secured cost efficiency while generating social, economic, and environmental value.

    As corporate social responsibility and environmental responsibility are being developed in line with companies’ interests, a new business model is being created. This indicates that a new kind of industrial revolution is taking place.

    Thus, this summit will become a platform for the sharing of leading cases, and I hope many of these cases expand to include companies in Seoul.

    On October 19, ICLEI East Asia, the world’s leading network—with over 84 countries and 1,200 members—committed to building a sustainable future, was officially launched here in Seoul. In addition, the ICLEI Global Executive Committee and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC), on which I serve as chairman, have announced the “2012 Seoul Declaration of Local Governments on Energy and Climate Mitigation,” which specifically focuses on the reduction of fossil fuel and nuclear energy use, which are essential urban administrative policies.

    The declaration will further reinforce the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s networks with other countries, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s sustainable development policies will be designed and executed in partnership with corporations and citizens. As such, we are now bracing for a seismic shift toward a sustainable future.

    I hope new and innovative cooperative models are formulated between cities and companies for sustainable development are created through the WBCSD Seoul 2012. I also hope this meeting leads to greater company participation. Let’s put our wisdom together to create a better future.

    I would like to once again express my deepest gratitude to those who participated in today’s conference.

    Thank you.