BY LEE MYUNG-BAK, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
In this exclusive with the Post, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak discusses his country's evolving relations with ASEAN and his vision for a greener future.
Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea.
Twenty years ago, Korea and ASEAN began its dialogue process, which has enabled greater understanding and stronger cooperation.
This year as we look back and celebrate the 20th anniversary of this remarkable friendship when Korea hosts the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in June, I believe we are now ready to enter the next stage: a new era of green partnership.
During Korea's journey towards economic progress, there were many proud achievements, but we also made many mistakes. One good example is our over-reliance on fossil fuels. Korea imports more than 97 percent of its energy needs from abroad and in the past, many thought this was unavoidable.
However, Korea is now making bold investments into developing new sources of clean energy in order to remain globally competitive. More importantly, with climate change accelerating at such an alarming rate, we can no longer be complacent.
A vision for the future
This is why Korea's new vision for the future, which is called the "Low Carbon Green Growth" Initiative, calls for more investment into developing new and renewable sources of energy. It seeks to create high-quality jobs and ensure a better way of life.
It is a comprehensive plan that will help us effectively tackle many of the new challenges that we will inevitably face once we recover from the current economic crisis.
ASEAN has the potential to help reduce global carbon emissions.
Climate change is a daunting challenge that requires concerted global effort.
It can also be a historic opportunity for promoting cooperation between Korea and ASEAN. With the right kind of investment and necessary capital, ASEAN has the potential to help reduce global carbon emissions. I also highly applaud ASEAN's continued investment into developing clean energy and undertaking forestation projects.
In particular, if we bring Korea's green technology, which is a fusion of IT, BT and NT, together with ASEAN's limitless opportunities in green growth, we can move a step closer to realising our common vision of creating "low-carbon smart cities".
For this, Korea is working to put in place so-called "Smart Grids" that will help us drastically reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency and reduce overall consumption.
Korea and ASEAN can also cooperate in research activities to develop various forms of alternative energies. Another area we must explore is forestation projects, which will play a pivotal role in tackling global warming.
Through these and much more, Korea and ASEAN can become the world's pioneering leaders. We can become the world's green research hub that introduces new innovations and turn green ideas into reality.
The East Asia Climate Partnership, which was launched last year by Korea, can help us strengthen such green partnership.
The upcoming East Asian Forum on Climate Change that will take place in Korea can be a venue to discuss concrete measures.
Furthermore, the Korea-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement will facilitate not only trade and investment but it will also promote cultural, tourism and educational exchange.
Having spent a great deal of my time in ASEAN countries as a young businessman, I recall the warm hospitality, thriving entrepreneurship and the magnificent cultural splendor of ASEAN. This is why I know that there is so much Korea can learn from and share with our ASEAN friends. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our friendship, let us bring together our vision and usher in a brand new era of green partnership.