KOREA
 

Statement 

by 

H.E. Choi Sung-hong 
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea

at the 
World Summit on Sustainable Development

 Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002


Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,

          My special thanks goes to the people and the government of the Republic of South Africa, for helping to make this historic meeting possible.

          What I would like to highlight here today is the importance of dealing with the issue of poverty in our efforts to achieve sustainable development.

          We all know that poverty not only stands in the way of economic development, it also poses daunting challenges to our quest for peace and security, as it generates hatred, crime and terrorism. Therefore, there is no question that the international community has to redouble concerted efforts to reduce poverty. Such action is needed now, not later, for the sake of survival and security, as well as prosperity for all of us.

          How, then, can we address the issue of poverty more effectively? I believe we should start in the context of globalization. Despite recent doubt and skepticism, globalization is still the predominant force driving the world today. It offers many great benefits, including the means and opportunity to achieve economic development in many countries.

          At the same time, however, we should not turn our eyes away from the fact that globalization produces negative effects. As globalization accelerates, income disparities and digital divide may grow among and within countries, which can make sustainable development difficult.

          As for the Republic of Korea, we are actively participating in global efforts to address the issues of the side effects including that of digital divide. In fact, given our comparative strengths, we have provided US$ 387 million of soft loans for 20 IT infrastructure projects in fifteen countries. And, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency, we offered IT training opportunities for 325 foreign trainees in the year 2001 alone.

          Now, let me turn to the question of how we maximize the benefits of globalization. For many of us, one answer seems clear: We need to work harder to generate more trade and investment through the opening and liberalization of markets. We know that is one very effective means for generating sustainable development. And, it is for this reason that cooperation is more important than ever for the timely completion of the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations.

Mr. President,

          In fact, what I have just said comes from Korea's own experience of development over the past four decades. And, through exchange, training, and technological support programs, along with increased ODA programs, we want to share with developing countries our experience of past successes and failures, including those of the 1997 economic crisis.

          Indeed, the economic crisis that we faced four and half years ago taught us many lessons on sustainable development -- particularly on the issues of transparency, accountability, and equitable stakeholder participation. And, based on these lessons, we founded the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development in the year 2000. Down the road, this Commission will play an important role in having the cause of sustainability reflected in a wide range of our future government policies.

          Relating to this, we hope to deposit the instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol before the end of this year.

          In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that we are currently working on hosting the 2010 World Expo in our exemplary environment-friendly coastal city of Yeosu. If we can make this happen with your support, we know that the event would provide an excellent opportunity to share with other countries and civil societies worldwide our past experiences and future vision for sustainable development.

Mr. President,

          After Johannesburg, our order of the day will be maximizing the impact of the "Plan of Implementation." For that task, I believe regional and sub-regional cooperation among countries with geographic proximity and ecological similarities will offer a highly effective vehicle.

          And, here, a promising example is found in Northeast Asia, where we see the Republic of Korea-China-Japan Environmental Ministers' Meeting, the Northeast Asian Sub-regional Program of Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC), and the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP). So far, these mechanisms have contributed to collectively responding to regional environmental issues such as sand storms, acid rain and marine pollution.

          And, I am optimistic that these cooperation mechanisms will now provide a strong basis for carrying out the WSSD Plan of Implementation in Northeast Asia.

          In conclusion, Mr. President, this Johannesburg Summit laid an outstanding foundation for striking a balance between environmental protection and socio-economic development. From now on, the world should thrive on sustainable development, not on economic growth alone. We must succeed in this test. For this, global partnership is essential. It is our duty and hope of the world.

          And, for sure, Korea is more ready than ever to play an integral part in this partnership for collective action.

Thank you very much, Mr. President