Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul, poses with the guest speakers of the forum (Source: ICLEI)
ICLEI East Asia Secretariat (ICLEI East Asia), in collaboration with the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), C40, and the Climate Change Center, contributed to the Seoul International Forum on Climate and Environment 2023 (SIFCE) on October 31, 2023 at the Seoul City Hall. As a pivotal part of the Forum, ICLEI East Asia organized a special session, inviting major East Asian capital cities and one of its European member cities to showcase the results and progress of their climate action policies. Mr. Shu Zhu, Regional Director of ICLEI East Asia, moderated the session.
This year’s Forum, titled “Justice For All: Climate Action Together”, recognizes the unequal impacts of the climate crisis on socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, and places significant emphasis on climate justice and youth climate activities. A multifaceted experience, the forum offered a range of enriching activities.
Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul, delivers welcome remarks (Source: ICLEI)
The Forum commenced with a captivating Metaverse Drawing performance themed around climate justice by Yeom Dong-Kyun, a visual performance artist. This visual spectacle was enriched by an introduction to SMG’s climate policies designed to mitigate climate-related disasters for vulnerable populations. The Mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, delivered a welcoming address, highlighting climate justice in the context of Seoul’s slogan “Going Together With the Socially Neglected” and exemplified policy measures including supporting energy-vulnerable communities with heating and cooling, and introducing eco-friendly public transportation to mitigate climate disasters for the socially neglected. His address was complemented by congratulatory remarks from Dawn Elizabeth Bennet, New Zealand Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, and Delwar Hossain, Bangladesh Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
Professor Lee June-Yi gives a keynote speech (Source: ICLEI)
In her keynote speech, Professor Lee June-Yi, Associate Professor at Pusan National University and Coordinating Lead Author of the Working Group I Report of the IPCC 6th Assessment Cycle, delved into the issue of climate justice and assessed Korea’s progress towards achieving SDG goals. Her speech concluded with a call to action, encouraging the public to participate in climate initiatives by adopting eco-friendly transportation methods and altering dietary habits.
Conversation with young climate activities from Korea and abroad (Source: ICLEI)
In the moderated session featuring the renowned broadcaster and climate activist, Julian Quintart, a thought-provoking discussion took place among youths from Korea and abroad, alongside Lee In-Keun, Head of Seoul Climate and Environment Headquarters. The young activists shared their contributions to combating climate change through collaborative actions, such as creating climate-focused news and campaigns. Each youth participant also posed questions to Mr. Lee on topics such as instituting vegan school meal regulations, creating employment opportunities on climate, and the upcoming launch of the Climate Card.
Before delving into the concrete policies and actions adopted by national and local policymakers, Professor Kwak Jae Sik of Soongsil Cyber University highlighted the counterproductive impact of doomsday discussions on climate change and the need to focus on protecting vulnerable communities as a core objective of climate change adaptation in his climate lecture.
The C40 session (Source: ICLEI)
Professor Kwak’s lecture was followed by the C40 session, moderated by Milag San Jose-Ballestros, Regional Director for East, Southeast Asia & Oceania at C40 Cities. Distinguished speakers from Seoul, Quezon, South Africa, and Bangladesh shared their region’s responses to climate disasters, policy efforts, and ways forward to address climate change.
The upcycle music performance team performs “Permission to Dance” of BTS, a K-Pop band (Source: ICLEI)
A unique and innovative part of the Forum was an upcycle music performance that was staged using cellos crafted from stainless steel pesticide sprayers. By presenting pop music through creative art, the performers delivered a powerful message about climate crises to the younger generation.
Following the music performance was a Net Zero event, where SMG and the Climate Change Center quantified the carbon footprint generated by the Forum and subsequently donated carbon credits to the Cambodia Clean Stove Installation Project.
The ICLEI Special Session (Source: SMG)
Mr. Shu Zhu moderates the ICLEI Session (Source: SMG)
The culmination of the day was the ICLEI Session, moderated by Mr. Shu Zhu, Regional Director of ICLEI East Asia. This session served as a platform for ICLEI member cities and UNEP to share their remarkable achievements in climate and environmental policies.
Mr. Mustaq Menon presents a vision for cities (Source: SIFCE Youtube)
The session commenced with a presentation by Mustaq Menon, Program Management Officer of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP). Mr. Menon shed light on the three planetary crises and the circular economy model implemented in cities to address them.
Ms. Chunmei Li introduces Beijing’s ETS Scheme (Source: SMG)
Following this, Ms. Chunmei Li, Level-3 Division Rank Official of Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau, China, presented the success of Beijing’s ETS scheme and its voluntary carbon credit system promoting public engagement. Mr. Batshagai Bayagalan, Director of the Capital City Air and Environmental Pollution Control Department in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, shared insights on air pollution status and ongoing efforts to combat it at the country and city levels. Ms. Toshiko Chiba, Climate Change Specialist and Director of the Bureau of Environment at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Japan, highlighted the accomplishments and key points of Tokyo’s building energy efficiency program.
Mr. Batshagai Bayagalan gives an overview of Ulaanbaatar’s air quality management policy (Source: SMG)
Ms. Toshiko Chiba introduces Tokyo’s initiatives for building decarbonization (Source: SIFCE Youtube)
Mr. Risto Veivo shares Turku’s climate actions (Source: SIFCE Youtube)
The session concluded with a presentation from Mr. Risto Veivo, Climate Director of the City of Turku, Finland, who shared Turku’s achievements in addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and natural resource conservation, showcasing the collective efforts of government, businesses, research institutions, and citizens.
Through the event, ICLEI provided a platform for cities to display their efforts and achievements in addressing climate crises. It addressed the role of local governments in combating climate change and acknowledged the significance of engaging the public and various stakeholders. ICLEI is committed to sharing knowledge products and facilitating international cooperation between cities to facilitate this crucial process.Looking ahead, ICLEI East Asia will continue to facilitate the peer learning of cities.
For additional information about this event, please visit the SIFCE website.