December 9, 2021 – Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) was invited to the 『International Conference on Inter-Korean Science Cooperation under the UN SDGs』, and Mr. Ricardo L. Calderon, executive director of AFoCO, Mr. Yeongjoo Lee, planning and budget division director, and Ms. YoungJu Han, operations and resource management team assistant, attended the event. The conference was jointly hosted by the Unification Korea Association of Science and Technology (UKAST), National Research Council of Science & Technology (NST), and Hanns Seidel Stiftung (HSS), and sponsored by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), and Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI).
The conference discussed sustainable and inclusive cooperation in science on the Korean Peninsula. H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the 8th UN Secretary General, addressed the role of the Republic of Korea in the international community and ways to revitalize inter-Korean exchange and cooperation through a keynote speech. In the following session, the main agenda of SDGs, climate projections for the Korean Peninsula, and topics on inter-Korean science cooperation were presented. Prof. Yun Sun-jin, co-chairperson of the Presidential Committee on Carbon Neutrality, introduced a major issue in carbon neutrality, while Mr. Park Chan-mo, chancellor of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), exhibited the role of PUST to achieve SDGs in North Korea.
In the conference, Mr. Calderon participated in a panel discussion session on 『Prospects for inter-Korea Cooperation in Science and Technology under SDGs』. The panel discussion began with a brief greeting by Seliger Bernhard, the chairperson of the session, and the introduction of six panelists, including Mr. Calderon (Executive Director of AFoCO), Mr. Tong-q Lee (Director General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Ms. Rose Mwebaza (Director of UN Climate Technology Centre & Network), Ms. Hyangsuk Seong (Director of UN Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development), and Mr. Jaejin Seok (Director of National Research Council of Science & Technology).
In the discussion, Mr. Calderon emphasized forest cooperation in terms of sustainable forest management (SFM) and science and technology cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in various forms of partnership under the UN SDGs, particularly a potential role of AFoCO in promoting inter-Korean Cooperation. He further elaborated that AFoCO’s transnational approach could facilitate cross-border cooperation, knowledge sharing, capacity development, strengthening dialogues, and collaboration in the field of forestry, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Through this event, AFoCO shared its current directions and policies as well as plans to cooperate in science on the Korean peninsula by continuously promoting science-based actions on the forest, biodiversity, and climate change. Taking this occasion, AFoCO will seek channels to pursue collective responses to global forestry issues whilst supporting more inclusive and sustainable cooperation with neighboring countries of the Korean Peninsula.
Submitted by Han YoungJu, Team Assistant