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Highlights for Wednesday, 23 March 2005

The Civil Society Forum, a side event of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, opened on Wednesday, 23 March 2005, at Hotel Lotte Seoul, the Republic of Korea. The Forum is co-organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Civil Society Forum Korea Committee (CSFKC). Participants to the Forum heard opening statements and presentations in an overview and three thematic sessions to discuss clean production, green consumption, and circulation of resources.

Above photo: Civil Society Forum delegates pose for a group photo. 

Side Event: Civil Society Forum

Opening Session: 

Above photo L-R: Kyeong-Jae Lee, Member of the National Assembly, Chairman of the Enviroment and Labor Committee, Republic of Korea; Hee-Beom Lee, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy, Republic of Korea; Hak-Su Kim, UNESCAP Executive Secretary; Kyul-Ho Kwak, Minister of  Environment, Republic of Korea and Jai Ok Kim, Chairperson, Civil Society Forum Korea Committee.

In opening the Forum, Jai Ok Kim (above left), CSFKC Chair, called on participants to focus their discussions on sustainable consumption and production and the role of civil society in achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth. Hak-Su Kim (above center), Executive Secretary of ESCAP, emphasized the importance of mobilizing all sectors in achieving sustainable development and changing production and consumption patterns. Kyul-Ho Kwak (above right), Korean Minister of Environment , together with Hee-Beom Lee (below left), Korean Minister of Commerce, and Kyeong-Jae Lee (below center), Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, said that, as the most economically dynamic region in the world, the Asia and Pacific region urgently needs a major paradigm shift in consumption and production patterns. They pledged to form partnerships with civil society in making such a shift.  

In introducing the theme of the Forum, Rae Kwon Chung
(below right), ESCAP, stated that the theme of the Forum should be connected with the theme of the Conference – achieving environmentally sustainable economic growth. He highlighted the importance of: promoting eco-efficiency; developing policies extending beyond pollution control; internalizing environmental costs; and encouraging a paradigm shift in consumption patterns.

Overview Session: Sustainable Economic Growth, Consumption and Production Pattern

This session focused on sustainable economic growth and sustainable consumption and production patterns – improvement of eco efficiency. Wei Zhao (above left), Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of UNEP, noted that the trends of sustainable consumption and production have led to strengthening of consumer organizations and implementation of programs at local levels. She highlighted special challenges in the region: poverty, fresh water scarcity, desertification and deforestation.

Chul-Hhwan Koh
(below left), Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development of Korea,
spoke on the role of the government, particularly initiatives to reduce the per capita environmental burden of consumption, and the government’s master plans on green production, particularly eco-labeling. Sothi Rachagan (below right) , Consumers International Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, Malaysia, said that the “consumer class” in the US, Europe and Japan represents 12% of world population but accounts for 60% of global consumption. Olivia la O’Castillo (above right), Asia-Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production, the Philippines, stressed the civil society’s role in promoting: information, education and communication; broader public participation in environmental decision-making; increased transparency and accountability of government and business activities; and stronger environmental governance.

Session One: Clean Production

This session was co-chaired by Manny Calonzo (right), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the Philippines, and Vo Kyung Song (left), Seoul Women’s University, Republic of Korea. Sarojeni Rengam (below right), Pesticide Action Network, Malaysia, made a presentation on food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. She said that food sovereignty includes: farmers’ involvement in food policymaking and sustainable production; consumers’ right to consume safely; and fair prices for food producers and consumers. She recommended a shift to food sovereignty as a rights-based framework for promotion of ecological agriculture.

Young Sook Park (above center), Korean Women Link Consumers Cooperative, introduced her organization’s joint activities with two NGOs in Japan and Taiwan involving agriculture producers and consumers in conserving resources and protecting the environment. She stressed the importance of safe food and organic farming and appealed to governments to give more support to these areas. Tae Geun Lee (above left), Korean Federation Sustainable Agriculture Organization, noted that Food and Agriculture Organization and World Trade Organization regulations have undermined organic farming. He stressed the need for a coordinated approach to organic farming. Thanh Bai Do, Institute of Industrial Chemistry, Viet Nam, spoke of inefficiencies in production that impact the  environment. He promoted the UNEP cleaner production concept, which leads to higher productivity through efficiencies and waste reduction in the production process. 

In the following discussions, Geum-Soon Yoon (above right), Korean Women Peasants Association,
spoke of the role of women in food sovereignty and clean production. Chang-Gil Kim (above left) , Korea Rural Economic Institute, said that agriculture and environment are closely linked in both positive and negative ways. He also advocated the UNEP clean production concept and noted that the difference between pollution control and clean production is that the former is an “after the event” approach while the latter is forward-looking. He also advocated multi-functionality as a means of promoting clean production in agriculture.

Session Two: Green Consumption

Above photos L-R: Nakahara Hideki, Japan; Martin Frid, Japan Offspring Fund; Chan-hee Lee, Korean Ministry of Environment, Myung-Hee Park, Green Consumer Network, Republic of Korea; Jung-Ja Lee, Green Future, Republic of Korea, Olivia la O’Castillo, Asia-Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production, the Philippines; Sang Yeung Lee, Korea Green Purchasing Network; Seung-Ho Han, Hanwha Eco Institute and Eun Sook Moon, Citizen’s Alliance for Consumer Protection of Korea

Co-chaired by Olivia la O’Castillo and Jung-Ja Lee, Green Future, Republic of Korea, the session focused on green purchasing initiatives. Sang Yeung Lee, Korea Green Purchasing Network, stressed that purchasing green products can make significant contributions to sustainable use of resources and create substantial economic benefits. She noted that green procurement would soon become mandatory in Korea, and underscored the role of private-public partnership and the civil society in raising consumers’ awareness.

Hideki Nakahara, Japan Green Purchasing Network (GPN), stressed the need to balance quality, cost and environmental considerations in promoting green purchasing. He highlighted GPN’s activities that are focused on collecting and disseminating guidelines and information on green products.  

In the ensuing discussions, Martin Frid (above left) , Japan Offspring Fund, said that consumer rights should include the right to sustainable consumption, and supported life-cycle analysis. Chan Hee Lee (above center), Korean Ministry of Environment, highlighted the need for eco-friendly products. He outlined the tasks of governments: policy making; implementing green consumption policies; and promoting eco-friendly products. Seung-Ho Han, Hanwha Eco Institute, and Myung-Hee Park, Green Consumer Network, Republic of Korea, advocated information sharing and green communication. They called upon corporations to disclose information related to their products. Eun Sook Moon (above right), Citizen’s Alliance for Consumer Protection of Korea, highlighted safety, accessibility and sustainability in consumption. 

Session Three: Circulation of Resources

This session was co-chaired by Martin Frid, Japan Offspring Fund, and Mi Hwa Kim (below left), Korea Zero Waste Movement Network. Manny C. Calonzo (above left), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the Philippines, presented the country’s case of zero waste. He pointed out that urban areas of Asia spend $25 billion a year on solid waste management, noting that open dumps are toxic and waste land and resources, while incinerators could pollute the environment and destroy resources. Su Yol Hong (above right), Korea Zero Waste Movement Network, described a fee system instituted in Korea for solid waste management with incentives for recycling. He said that producers are also required to sort wastes before incineration, and that NGOs are active in addressing packaging waste and composting.  

Shunei Kawauchi, Kurume University of Japan, discussed the cases of Kurume and Minimata in Japan, where citizen activism resulted in re-design of solid waste management systems and reduction of land use for landfill. Chol-hyun Jang, Hanbat National University, Republic of Korea, called for a monitoring system for reducing resource use through clean production, and for more sharing of information with consumers by producers. Sareeya Chairattananont (below right), Thailand Environment Institute, described a �waste bank� system in Thailand for students to separate and recycle solid waste in return for money. Recycling has reduced solid waste considerably and has accomplished environmental education as well.