Minister pledges joined-up thinking on environment, sustainable development

By Kim Young-won
  • Published : Mar 28, 2013 - 20:54
  • Updated : Mar 28, 2013 - 20:55
SEJONG CITY ― Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu has pledged to step up policy coordination and communication across government branches in tackling environmental challenges and pushing sustainable development.

Former President Lee Myung-bak’s much-hyped green growth policy has been criticized for a lack of shared goals, priorities and effective government leadership, often leading to conflict over matters ranging from emission cuts, to carbon trade and water management.

The new government will “take down all the walls between ministries” for efficient and effective policy implementation and achieve a high level of environmental welfare for the public, he said in a recent meeting with reporters.

The ministries of environment and land, transport and maritime affairs gave their first policy briefings together to President Park on Feb 26. It was a “good and effective way” to transcend differences among ministries, he said.

His ministry will also closely cooperate with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in promoting Korea’s green policies and industries overseas. 
Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu. (Yonhap News)

The ministries had sometimes been in conflict over their differing priorities.

The Korea Environment Institute, a state-run environmental policy evaluation agency, said in a report, “The green growth policy (under Lee) failed to yield successful results because government branches were unable to grasp the precise meaning of green growth and to cooperate with relevant agencies.”

The agencies concerned then arbitrarily carried out projects, and budgets were allocated to existing projects under different names and sectors that had little to do with green growth, according to the report.

The report also said former President Lee’s green growth vision fell short of gaining public consensus.

“The former government emphasized the opportunities that can be brought about by its green growth policy. However, it failed to gain consensus and support of the people and private business sector, especially in regard to the inconveniences, suffering and cost that they had to cope with,” said the KEI in the report.

The KEI recommended the new government focus on specific issues including how to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change rather than to proceed with a broad range of environmental projects.

Yoon said that the ministry would play more of a leading role in environmental initiatives than its predecessor did and implement stricter rules for man-made environmental accidents.

“In order not to put a financial burden on the public for environmental accidents, the ministry will prepare a strict law that holds those who cause damage (to the environment and people) accountable,” said Yoon.

“A system that keeps policymakers responsible will be run as pledged in Park’s campaign and I will suggest my own ideas if the system becomes perfunctory.”

Encouraging business owners that deal with toxic chemicals to have insurance and creating a fund for the victims of accidents were among the minister’s suggestions.

By Kim Young-won (