On June 1st 2015, Millennium Destinations attended the Sustainable City Seminar 2015 hosted by the French embassy in South Korea and the French-Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), with the support of Seoul Metropolitan City.
Prior to the UN conference on climate change, COP21, which will take place at the end this year in Paris, this seminar was aimed at showcasing the French expertise in design, construction and operation of sustainable cities and eco- districts to an Korean audience of professionals and individuals with interest in sustainability.
The event took place at the new Seoul City Hall, a perfect venue for the topic, and included three sessions with presentations by representatives of French companies active in South Korea: 'Eco-district & Sustainable Cities' with Schneider Electrics, Veolia and Bureau Veritas, 'Energy Efficiency', with HanGlas (Saint-Gobain), DPJ Partners and Legrand Korea, and "Transportation' - Renault Samsung Motors and Alstom Transport.
In his welcoming remarks, French ambassador Jérôme Pasquier congratulated Seoul City Mayor Park Won Soon for his election as President of ICLEI - Local Government for Sustainability.
Amb. Pasquier also recalled the words of Secretary of State Annick Grandin, who was in South Korea last month to attend the World Education and took that opportunity to have a press conference on COP21, where she mentioned that 'it is not too late but we have to act quickly', and 'the time for doubt is passed and now it is time to act'.
Stressing that COP21 would have to focus on solutions, he reminded the 4 pillars of the Paris Climate Alliance to be forged in December:
- universal agreement,
- national contribution,
- fair financing scheme,
- agenda of solutions.
Mr. Hyo Sung Jung, Vice Mayor Administrative Affairs at Seoul City announced that ICLEI Seoul Declaration for Sustainable Cities would be promoted as a contribution to the COP21.
Mr. David-Pierre Jalicon, FKCCI Chairman, stressed that stakes were not only national but also global, hence the need for an increased cooperation. He added that we can no longer rely on good willingness and voluntarism and the costs of sustainability must be considered and absorbed.
Dr. Suh-Yong Chung, Professor at the Korean University and Chair of the Climate Change Center, who moderated the seminar, suggested that Seoul has a great potential to be THE smart city.
Mr. Frédéric Lucas, Veolia, underlined that France has over 150 years of experience in the field of environment and sustainability, and has developed a global vision within the framework of Europe, which makes it a valuable partner for South Korea.
So now the question is not why, or even how, we should act, but surely with whom? As in any relationship, sustainability partners will have to deal with many challenges: inertia, disinterest or conflict of interests, selfishness, reluctance to change, disrespect, fear of loss, weariness ... just to name a few. But as in any relationship, most challenges can be overcome through a global mind transformation towards more dialogue, empathy, tolerance, generosity, respect, positiveness, discipline, and flexibility. I know, that's a lot but after all, South Korea's extraordinary socioeconomic development over the last decades could be achieved thanks to a collective mental transformation, and a shift from fatalism and passivity to self-reliance and diligence.
It is time to clean our mess before the next generations call us barbarians!