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[H.eco Forum] H.eco Forum highlights the dangers facing the ocean, humankind

This photo shows the stage for the H.eco Forum, made with recycled paper.
This photo shows the stage for the H.eco Forum, made with recycled paper.

The second edition of the H.eco Forum was held Thursday, shedding light on climate change and its effects on the marine environment.

This year’s event was held under the theme of “Climate Crisis and the Ocean” on Nodeul Island – also known as Nodeulseom -- inviting environment scholars, activists and experts in and out of Korea. Some speakers from abroad gave their speeches online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year’s H.eco Forum focuses on marine pollution, addressing the reasons behind it and countermeasures,” Herald Corp. CEO Jeon Chang-hyeop said as part of his welcoming remarks.

“The Climate Clock, installed at the headquarters of Herald Corp. as the third of its kind in the world and the first in Asia, is playing a big role in heralding the seriousness of the climate crisis,” Jeon said, referring to the clock which indicates the time the Earth has before global warming reaches irreversible levels.

“I hope this event will be a time to bring awareness of environmental issues with experts,” he said.

Song Sang-keun, vice minister of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, attended the event to give a congratulatory speech.

“Oceans have to deal with extreme changes and are battling at the front line of climate change. But they have also minimized the effects of climate change. It is now time for us to take action for the oceans,” Song said.

Song promised the ministry will play a key role in protecting marine life.

“In December, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced the 2050 carbon neutrality roadmap, promising to decrease 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Song said.

“Not only we will work for the green growth of marine-related industries, we will strive to ease climate change across the world by utilizing mud flats and ocean forests.”

Song’s speech was followed by a speech from Song Joo-bum, vice mayor of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. He attended the event in lieu of Seoul Mayor Oh Se-Hoon, who is running for the local elections on June 1.

“People may not feel the need to battle climate change or to protect the marine ecosystem. However, if we do not make efforts to protect the environment, future generations may not be able to eat fish,” Song said.

“The Seoul Metropolitan Government aims to change the nature of the city to cope with the crisis,” he said, explaining the city’s efforts to protect the environment, such as setting a goal to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, requiring zero-energy architecture for new constructions in stages and increasing the percentage of electric vehicles among others.

Environment Minister Han Hwa-jin, who recently took office under President Yoon Suk-yeol’s administration, also gave a video speech.

“The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows if we fall behind on our response to climate change, our future will be threatened. The damage from rising sea levels and acidification will worsen at a fast rate,” Han said.

“The new government will try to create a sustainable future through achieving carbon neutrality,” Han said.

Rep. Park Dae-chul, head of the Environment and Labor Committee at the National Assembly, also congratulated the event, delivering a written speech.

“We are facing a new era, where we ought to respond to climate change. Climate change is affecting our lives, resulting in water scarcity, decreasing crop production and more,” Park said.

“We cannot walk away from the issues or neglect them.”

“Climate change is happening at a fast rate. It is not a faraway future. Now is the right time to discuss ‘Climate Change and the Oceans,’” he said.

The congratulatory speeches were followed by a screening of the short documentary series “Last Sea,” produced by the Herald Business, which sheds light on the deaths of whales near Korea.

The screening was followed by keynote speeches from Sylvia Earle, president and chairman of Mission Blue and Anote Tong, former president of the Republic of Kiribati.

Professor Axel Timmermann, director of the IBS Center for Climate at Pusan National University, Henk Ovink, special envoy for International Water Affairs from the Netherlands, and photojournalist Kadir Van Lohuizen, co-founder of NOOR, gave their speeches for the first session, “Rising Sea Levels.”

For the second session, “Changing Marine Ecosystems,” Chun Seung-soo, professor emeritus at Chonnam National University, took the podium. Chun played a pivotal role in having “gaetbeol,” or Korean tidal flats, inscribed onto UNESCO’s world heritage list last year.

Na Kyung-soo, CEO of SK Geo Centric and Britta Denise Hardesty, senior principal research scientist at CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, also gave speeches to round out the third session, “Humanity and the Ocean.”



The forum also featured discussions with environmental activists and entrepreneurs.

Among those who gave a live talk were: Professor Moon Hyo-bang from Hanyang University, Jang Soo-jin, founder and president of Marine Animal Research and Conservation and Kim Mi-yeon, the vice president of MARC.

Activists from Greenpeace Korea, including associate professor Nam Sung-hyun from Seoul National University and ocean campaigner Kim Yeon-ha spoke about the “30x30” initiative, a global conservation effort seen as key to marine recovery.

Young ocean entrepreneurs Byeon Su-bin, president of Diphda Jeju, and Won Jong-hwa, CEO of Foresys, were present. Winners of the H.eco Awards 2021, recognized for their environmentally friendly efforts, held a discussion on how they are working to deliver environmental justice.

Gim Ji-yun, representative of Green Environment Youth Korea, was the moderator of the talk joined by Kim Won-ho, chairman of the board of Corporation Ecopeace Asia, Charle Lim, CEO of Coffee Cube and Chang Sung-un, CEO of YOLK.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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