President Phung Xuan Nha and esteemed colleagues,
It gives me great pleasure to be here with all of you for the fourth Asian Universities Forum. Personally, it is my first time attending this forum since I have been elected as President. Therefore, this forum has great meaning to me. First of all, I would like to thank you for being here to participate in this meaningful event. In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to President Phung Xuan Nha for graciously co-hosting this event and for all the efforts put in by you and your staff from Vietnam National University, Hanoi. I would also like to express thanks to Dang Huy Hau, Vice Chairman of People’s Committee of Quang Ninh Province for allowing us to hold this forum at the beautiful city of Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province. The 4th Asian Universities Forum could not have taken place without the considerable efforts and sincere cooperation from Vietnam National University, Hanoi and Quang Ninh Province. Thanks to your commitment, I am convinced that, this year’s forum will be successful in building on the success of our previous forum.
Today we begin our session with the theme of “Green Growth for Sustainable and Equitable Development”. The issue on “Green Growth” is considered as a significant issue not only in Asia but also in the world. The 9th edition of Global Risks Report in 2014, which is an annual study published by the World Economic Forum ahead of the Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, assesses that climate change, unemployment, extreme weather, and income gap are the four most severe global risks that humankind will be possibly facing in the next ten years. As global experts indicated two environmental problems and two economic problems as the most severe global risks in the report, both damage from climate change and unemployment caused by the world economic downturn since 2008 are the realities that we are now facing. These conditions lead to an emergence of the vision of Green Growth, and we all recognize that environmental problems and economic problems must be dealt with each other and not considered as an individual issue.
What is “Green Growth”? Professor Paul Ekins, an economist from the Great Britain defined it as “environmentally sustainable economic growth”, which means a growth pattern that shows the national income constantly accelerating while sustaining the nature and the humankind healthy. The Green Growth presents the possibility for co-prosperity of ‘Green’ and ‘Growth’, simultaneously; it implies that the rise of GDP caused by the sacrifice of an ecosystem is not a real significance of green growth.
The one important fact we all have to recognize is that the concept of “Green Growth” as a strategy for an economic development has materialized in Asia for the first time. The Concept of “Green Growth” has been proposed by ESCAP (Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific), a United Nations agency for regional development in the Asia Pacific, and the UNESCAP suggested Green Growth for the economic growth strategy of the Asian developing countries. The core of the Green Growth strategy is to decrease poverty by the consistent economic growth and to achieve environment protection through the increase of eco-efficiency.
Green growth is also highly emphasized as a principle for governmental policies by South Korean government. The Green growth initiative under the slogan of ‘low carbon green growth’ promotes environmentally sustainable economic progress to foster low-carbon and green energy so that the government can create jobs and be a new growth engines for socially inclusive development. The way to green growth requires new philosophy, new knowledge, new science, and new technology. At the moment, there is a greater demand for formulating a well-balanced strategy that links economic, social, and environmental dimensions together. Policies must be created to promote the environment as an opportunity for economic growth and development.
As we all realize, green growth is of particular importance in the era of economic challenge and need for sustainable development. Ideas on green growth and sustainability have been already shared at the other various forums and have been adapted politically and economically in the past. Seoul National University also has been working very hard for the past several years to create a knowledge-base that enables green growth. Now, it is time to discuss green growth seriously with the Asian Universities Forum Members universities. I believe our efforts and collaboration will provide a solid ground for our societies to make progress toward green growth. This event will be an excellent opportunity to address key emerging issues relevant to green growth, such as eco-efficiency, green market, and sustainable consumption and production.
To conclude, I wish all the participants great success in your deliberations. I look forward to a productive and memorable forum.
Thank you very much.