Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
4th February 2013, Seoul, Republic of Korea
(As prepared for delivery)
Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be back in Korea and join you for the meeting of the Green Growth National Committee.
Let me first congratulate Korea on its leadership on green growth, not just within Korea and in Asia, but also globally.
Korea has been one of the fastest growing OECD countries, with real GDP rising by more than 4% per annum during the past decade. Korea’s National Green Growth Strategy, the “Low Carbon, Green Growth” vision for the next 50 years will be critical to help sustain its growth potential.
Putting “Green” at the core of a country’s “Growth” strategy is intelligent public policy at its best! Korea understands that there is no trade-off between green and growth. Much to the contrary: there are strong synergies that can be exploited between pro-growth and pro-green policies.
Korea’s commitment to spending 2% of GDP per year to promote green growth will stimulate local economies, create employment opportunities and foster innovation in new technologies. It will mitigate environmental damage, aiming at a 30% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2020 relative to a business-as-usual scenario, implying a 4% cut from the 2005 level. This, coupled with the launch of an emissions trading system in 2015, will help to reduce the social and economic costs of achieving Korea’s Greenhouse Gas emission target.
These are all promising steps to ensure Green Growth becomes an engine that does not sputter and start, but runs smoothly and efficiently into the longer term.
Korea has become the third country to issue a report using the proposed OECD green growth indicators. This is crucial! Green Growth Indicators enable effective monitoring and inform policymaking to ensure Korea’s plan bears fruit. Korea is using these indicators to support its evidence-based decision making and to gain people’s trust in related policy efforts.
More than ever, governments need cutting edge, objective and comparative data to explain and promote the transition to green growth and also to measure our progress. The OECD provides these tools, and Korea is making best use of them.
These indicators show that Korea is moving towards a greener economy. Economic opportunities and policy responses, including spending on R&D and innovation related to green growth, and the share of green official development assistance, are improving rapidly.
However, indicators from the natural asset base demonstrate that water resources are insufficient, and the area of forest and wooded land has decreased consistently. This should not discourage policymakers, but rather serve as a signal of areas for more concentrated efforts.
Korea’s pioneering use of the indicators has inspired other countries as well. Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands and Peru are all now applying nationally the OECD green growth indicators to help benchmark their progress in moving towards greener growth. This widespread enthusiasm demonstrates the global interest in going green.
Together, we are deepening our understanding of green growth in Asian emerging and developing countries. This new work stream will identify the main policy challenges for Asia. It will review issues linked to managing natural resources, integrating green growth strategies into national plans, and addressing rapid urbanisation, a major cause of many environmental pressures.
With Korea’s support, we have joined forces with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the World Bank, and the United Nations Environmental Program to launch a Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP). Its goal is to identify knowledge gaps, and promote and diffuse research on green growth issues. The forthcoming conference in Paris this April will focus on the private sector implementation aspects of green growth.
The discussions will be framed around two headline themes: (i) greening global value chains, and (ii) measurement and reporting for green growth. Within this platform, our organisations are also preparing a Joint Indicators’ Report to converge toward a set of common green growth indicators.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Green growth is not an option, it is not a luxury. It is the only way forward. The countries that recognize this truth and act accordingly will lead the world by example. That is why Korea’s achievements and drive in this field are so important. And this is why we want to keep working closely with Korea, and use its experience to improve our policy advice to member and partner countries and to increase the number of emerging economies with whom we work on these topics.
This is one of the objectives of our forthcoming “Green Growth and Developing Countries Report,’’ due out in April. The report looks at how to tailor green growth strategies to the specific concerns and circumstances of developing countries.
We look forward to working with you in designing and implementing better green growth policies for better lives in Korea, in our other Asian partners, and in the world at large.