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Songdo, a place cut out for U.N. operations

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Published : 2012-10-16 19:39
Updated : 2012-10-16 19:39

With 10 U.N. agencies already settled, city looks to become Asian hub for international organizations


Having been built from scratch on reclaimed land near the West Sea, Songdo of Incheon Metropolitan City is now developing into an international business center in Northeast Asia.

Songdo has seen a rapid growth in population, especially foreign residents. Of its more than 55,000 residents, some 1,900 are foreigners, many working for international corporations and organizations which have settled in the new town.

Incheon is now vying to bring the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund to the newly developed international business district. A vote by the fund’s board members to decide the winner will be held in Songdo on Friday. 
I-Tower, a 33-story building exclusively for international organizations, stands near Songdo Central Park. (Incheon Metropolitan City)

The GCF, which aims to channel $100 billion a year from developed countries to developing countries, would have several hundreds of staff members once it gets up and rolling, bringing in significant economic benefits to the host city.

The Korea Development Institute, a state-run think tank, estimated the expected benefits to be about 380 billion won ($341 million) a year, presuming that the GCF keeps a workforce of 500.

“Songdo is a model of low-carbon green cities which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seeks to spread across the globe,” Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil said.

“It also boasts an excellent working and living environment for foreign residents,” he said.

Located on the western coast of Korea, away from the hustle and bustle of the sprawling Seoul, Songdo is a self-sufficient city with highly concentrated functions, omnipresent communication networks and environment-friendly facilities.

Facilities for business, health care, education, culture, shopping, tourism and leisure are all within a 5-kilometer radius.

A total of 10 international organizations are currently based in Songdo, including the U.N. Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT), regional/sub-regional offices of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

I-Tower, a 33-story building exclusively designed for international organizations, is due for completion by the end of this year. Incheon has pledged to provide 15 floors of the building with a total floor space of 21,500 square meters to the GCF headquarters, should it come to Songdo.

Songdo also boasts great connectability to the capital and major global cities, located within a 20-minute drive from the Incheon International Airport, the main gateway to Korea, and a 40-minute drive from Gangnam, downtown Seoul.

“Above all, the citizens of Incheon and Songdo, the central government of Korea and the parliament are all so supportive of our bid,” Song said.

“We can also assure that the secretariat’s start-up process here, if it comes to Songdo, will be assisted fully and swiftly.”

In the case of the UNESCAP office, which opened in Songdo in 2010, all the necessary procedures were handled within just two months, he noted.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)

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