President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that South Korea will establish an international research center charged with developing environment-friendly "green" technologies in cooperation with leading research institutes from home and abroad.
The establishment of the "Green Technology Center" is the latest in a series of projects that South Korea has pushed forward under Lee's "green growth" campaign. Last year, South Korea established the think tank Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) that is designed to develop strategies to promote the environment-friendly cause.
"If we unite efforts, we can make a big change. We can lay the cornerstone for a planet-responsible civilization," Lee said during a speech at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Global Green Growth Summit that South Korea organized jointly with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The "Green Technology Center" will focus on research into fusion of energy, water and other related environment technologies, the presidential office said in a statement. The center will also help train personnel and provide technological know-how to developing nations, it said.
The office said it is trying to open the research center within the year jointly with the GGGI and leading foreign research institutes as part of South Korea's "science business belt" project of building massive research complexes to help develop cutting-edge technologies.
Lee also said that South Korea will establish the "Global Green Technology Award" to encourage development of green technologies, and will continue to increase what he called "green ODA" (official development assistance) to developing nations.
Officials said the first green technology prize will be awarded at next year's summit.
The two-day green growth conference drew dozens of high-level speakers from 25 countries and major international organizations, including OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria; Noeleen Heyzer, executive secretary of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific; and Danish Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis.
Also in attendance were business leaders and renowned scholars, including Zhengrong Shi, head of China's Suntech Power, the world's largest maker of solar panels; Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Softbank Corp. in Japan; and professor Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics.
Later, Lee met separately with Son and discussed promoting renewable energy, officials said.
During the meeting, Son briefed Lee on a project to turn Mongolia's Gobi desert into a source of solar power and other renewable energy, calling for South Korea, Japan and China to jointly develop the "Gobi tech project," according to presidential secretary Kim Sang-hyup.
In response, Lee stressed the importance of international cooperation in promoting renewable energy, saying that South Korea is ready to work actively for energy cooperation in Northeast Asia, Kim said.
Son denounced Japan's construction of atomic power plants in quake-prone areas as a "big mistake," but expressed his "respect" for South Korea's pursuit of nuclear energy in a safe manner, Kim said.
Green growth has been one of President Lee's trademark policies. It calls for lessening South Korea's dependence on fossil fuels and promoting the development of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and other technologies that increase energy efficiency.
Lee believes the strategy will provide South Korea with fresh growth engines for its economy and help the country one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases amid growing calls to curb global warming.
As part of the campaign, South Korea launched the GGGI last year and its first overseas office opened in Copenhagen last month. Seoul also forged a "green growth alliance" with Denmark during Lee's trip to the European nation last month.
South Korea plans to develop the green growth summit into a premier forum for global discussions on green growth, like the World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Forum.