Korea urged to share knowledge of digital transformation, deepen climate change fight

Korea urged to share knowledge of digital transformation, deepen climate change fight

Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung, front row, fourth from right, and Institute for Global Economics Chairman Jun Kwang-woo, front row, fifth from right, pose with participants in a conference held by the two institutions at Lotte Hotel in Seoul, Thursday. Courtesy of Shinhan Financial Group

Global, regional cooperation recommended as solution to multiple challenges

By Park Jae-hyuk

Korea should play a bigger role in fighting climate change and in protecting biodiversity, as well as in helping developing countries end extreme poverty and become part of the digital world, according to the recommendation of one of the world’s most renowned economists, Thursday.

Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University economics professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development, emphasized that global and regional cooperation, the transfer of know-how, goodwill and finance are required for the international community to overcome the multiple challenges of this pandemic era.

“All of this, therefore in conclusion, requires Korea’s success, its inspiration, and its global role and leadership,” he said in an opening keynote speech livestreamed during the international conference held in Seoul by the Institute for Global Economics and Shinhan Financial Group.

The economist made note of the fact that the Korean New Deal is based on both digital and green platforms, saying that the policy is a “hallmark,” along with the European Green Deal, in the global efforts to move forward towards a more eco-friendly world.

At the same time, Sachs recommended strong regional cooperation among Korea, China and Japan in Northeast Asia in order to bring “enormously beneficial” innovation by putting an end to post-World War II legacies.

Some of his opinions were shared by Mark Carney, the UN special envoy on climate action and finance, who previously served as the Bank of England governor.

During an online speech delivered at the conference, he underscored the necessity of an alliance of all stakeholders, including governments, businesses and individuals, for the international community to achieve net-zero emissions.

Regarding the digital transformation, the former U.K. central bank chief ruled out the possibility of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) threatening the status of the U.S. dollar.

KKR Co-Chairman George Roberts, who offered a pre-recorded speech for the event, introduced the private equity firm’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from its portfolio companies, including Oriental Brewery (OB), which it resold to AB InBev in 2014.

“Just by changing the heating and cooling systems in the brewery, this resulted in many different savings,” he said.

Financial Services Commission Chairman Koh Seung-beom and Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol, who both oversee the nation’s financial policies, vowed in the conference that they will help guide Korea’s transformation into an environmentally sustainable, digital society.

Shinhan Chairman Cho Yong-byoung said in his welcoming address that the banking group’s corporate philosophy will be transformed into one oriented around the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) principles.

Their speeches were followed by four sessions in which the global experts and industry insiders discussed the best ESG practices for sustainable growth, prospects for U.S.-China relations, digital platform economies and the roles of finance to cope with the climate crisis.

National Pension Service Chairman Kim Yong-jin and Korea Investment Corp. CEO Jin Seung-ho, both of whom delivered their speeches during the first session of the event, spoke about the willingness of the two state-run institutions to increase investments that take into account the ESG factors.

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