South Korea contributes more than US$4 million to First Environmental Project between Two Koreas

According to Environmentalexpert.com:

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Republic of Korea today signed an agreement for establishing a Trust Fund that addresses key environmental issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Republic of Korea will contribute US$4.4 million in total for this project. The first venture of its kind on the environment between the two Koreas, the Trust Fund will tackle forest depletion, declining water quality, air pollution, land degradation and biodiversity in DPR Korea. It will also support eco-housing initiatives as well as conservation and management of the Taedong watershed, environmental education, integrated environmental monitoring system, clean development mechanism and renewable energy technology.

‘This multilateral cooperation with UNEP is of great significance for both South and North Korea and a huge step forward in addressing pressing environmental issues in DPR Korea,’said LEE Kyoo-Yong, Ph.D., Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea.

The past decade has seen declining forests in DPR Korea due to timber production, firewood consumption, wild fires and insect attacks associated with drought, population growth and conversion of land to agricultural production. Pollution of rivers and streams has become severe in recent years, particularly in the Taedong River, which flows through central Pyongyang. DPR Korea’s reliance on coal for power generation, industrial processes and domestic heating also led to serious air pollution, particularly in cities like Pyongyang and Hamhung.

To counter this, the country has encouraged community, youth and children’s groups to establish tree nurseries and to participate in campaigns such as the National Tree Planting Day on March 2 every year. The government is currently strengthening legal control on effluent from factories by applying the’Polluter Pays Principle’ and has initiated mass media campaigns to inform the public of the need for water conservation.
Environmental protection was also recognized as a priority issue and a prerequisite for sustainable development after a series of natural disasters in the mid-1990s led to a critical drop in yields of major crops. In 1998, DPR Korea revised its constitution and designated environmental protection as a priority over all productive practices and identified it as a prerequisite for sustainable development. National laws on forests, fisheries, water resources and marine pollution were also adopted.

‘This agreement will build on the momentum that DPR Korea has begun. It will also go a long way in strengthening the spirit of cooperation between the two countries,’ said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

Since 2000, UNEP has been working in partnership with the National Coordinating Committee for Environment and UNDP to strengthen the capacity of the national government for environmental assessment and monitoring and implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements. In 2004, UNEP and DPR Korea signed a Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Environment. The first DPR Korea State of the Environment report was also launched that year.

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