Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) will convene its second summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to accelerate action and impact for inclusive and sustainable green growth. In hosting its first multilateral summit on the environment, the Republic of Korea aims to “gather the solidarity of the participating countries on pursuing carbon neutrality” and to ensure “due efforts are made to contribute to tackling climate change and achieving the SDGs.”

Meeting virtually from 30-31 May 2021, the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit will focus on the theme, ‘Inclusive Green Recovery Towards Carbon Neutrality,’ with P4G – an incubator and accelerator of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to reach the “mutually reinforcing” agendas on sustainable development and climate action – seeking to position the global platform as a delivery mechanism to build back better and greener in this Decade of Action.

The 2021 P4G Seoul Summit aims to become “a catalytic moment for collective action” towards net zero. “Korea will prepare together with the people, so that the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit becomes the venue that unites the international community’s resolve to achieve carbon neutrality,” said Korea’s President Moon Jae-in in his New Year’s remarks on 11 January 2021.

In an interview, Yoo Yeon-chul, Executive Director, 2021 P4G Seoul Summit Preparatory Office, and Korea’s Ambassador for Climate Change, said the event will take place at an “important inflection point” to help “further unite our global resolve for carbon neutrality, and strengthen climate action to build back better and greener in the post-COVID world.”

Originally planned for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic, the Summit comes after a series of high-level events that sought to catalyze efforts towards the net-zero transition and more ambitious climate action, including the fifth session of the Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA), the Leaders Summit on Climate, and the 12th Petersberg Climate Dialogue. The Summit is expected to serve as a stepping stone towards the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (COP 26) at the end of the year.

During the Leaders Summit on Climate, convened by US President Joe Biden in April, Korea announced it will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement on climate change “this year” to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal. In October 2020, Korea’s President Moon declared the country’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 as part of the global effort to slow global warming and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Through the 2021 Seoul Summit, Korea’s government aims to:

  • Catalyze the commitment of the international community to pursue “green recovery” in an “inclusive” manner;
  • “Gather the solidarity” of the participating countries on carbon neutrality;
  • Ensure due efforts are made to contribute to tackling climate change and achieving the SDGs through ambitious commitments at the domestic level and by expanding Korea’s assistance to developing countries to support their efforts to achieve global goals; and
  • Send a message to the market and businesses that Korea’s climate objectives are clear, predictable, and reliable through the government’s short-term Green New Deal policy and long-term carbon neutrality goal.

The Green New Deal forms part of the Korean New Deal, which was introduced in July 2020 as a national development strategy to support the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to “lead the global action against structural changes.” Korea’s Green New Deal rests on three pillars: green transition in cities, spatial planning, and living infrastructure; diffusion of low-carbon and decentralized energy; and the establishment of innovative green industry ecosystems. According to Korea’s most recent NDC, submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat in December 2020, the government expects to invest a total of KRW 73.4 trillion by 2025 to facilitate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and help sustain climate-resilient recovery under the Green New Deal. The next five years of implementing the Deal “will serve as a lever for achieving the updated NDC,” including the country’s 2030 national GHG reduction target – “to reduce 24.4% from the total national GHG emissions in 2017, which is 709.1 MtCO2eq, by 2030” – and green transition towards carbon neutrality.

The 2021 P4G Summit will adopt the Seoul Declaration, in which Korea’s government is expected to “flesh out differentiated goals and strategies” in the water, food and agriculture, energy, cities, and the circular economy sectors, which correspond to P4G’s five thematic tracks where the global platform works to accelerate innovative multistakeholder partnerships to deliver transformative change to reach SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). “We would like to reaffirm the global challenges ahead of us and our commitments for an inclusive green recovery toward carbon neutrality,” said Yoo, emphasizing PPPs and sustainable development as “areas and actions we need to pursue together.”

In focusing on accelerating PPPs for sustainable growth, Yoo noted, the P4G Summit “stands out among other multilateral forums.” By bringing together governments, businesses, and civil society, P4G can enable an integrated approach through PPPs to address climate change and reach the SDGs, he said.

According to Yoo, P4G plays a “bridging role” between developed and developing nations, and between government assistance and business investment. P4G is led by a group of 12 “like-minded” countries, which includes both developed and developing nations: Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Viet Nam. The governments, Yoo explained, “support the early stages of projects, and businesses actively invest in later stages, ultimately leading to sustainable business models.”

To help Koreans become “more aware of environment-related issues and guide them toward climate action,” the Green Future Week, taking place one week ahead of the Seoul Summit, will include ten Green Future sessions, “aimed at raising public awareness on carbon neutrality and gathering our global resolve to build back better and greener in the post-COVID world.” According to Yoo, the ten sessions, on carbon neutrality, the Green New Deal, civil society, oceans, biodiversity, a business forum, green technology, forests, green finance, and the future generation, reflect Korea’s policy interests in relation to the ongoing global dialogue on the green recovery.

As part of its efforts to raise public awareness, the P4G Seoul Summit Preparatory Office also initiated a number of communication and outreach activities, including social media campaigns and collaborations with businesses to ensure, as a matter of strategic priority, that “our green message is spread to all corners of the Earth, while leaving no one behind.” Examples of efforts include the P4G Photo Posting Campaign and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with 23 Korean and international companies, public institutions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as IKEA Korea, SK Telecom, and Samsung Electronics, under which they “will play a leading role in efforts to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable growth.”

To ensure P4G’s continuity, Yoo said it is important to “make sure that the P4G initiative is continued and developed throughout the future,” including by mobilizing the “troika” of the past, current, and future host countries. Korea will serve as P4G Chair until the third P4G Summit, and throughout its chairmanship, it will “strive to make sure that all stakeholders come together to respond to climate change and achieve the SDGs, based on the P4G spirit of leaving no one behind and promoting inclusiveness,” he stated.

The first P4G Summit took place from 19-20 October 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and focused on the theme, ‘Accelerating Partnerships.’ 

In addition to the 12 country partners, P4G’s network includes five organizational partners: the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), and C40 Cities. Knowledge and investment partners include the International Water Association (IWA), the NDC Partnership, the Food and Land Use Coalition, the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), Blended Finance Taskforce, and the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE).