Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea

11/29/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/28/2023 22:11

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hosts North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) Senior Officials Meeting (Nov. 23-24)

1. The 26th Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC), an intergovernmental mechanism among six countries in North-East Asia that has contributed to addressing regional environmental issues for the past 30 years, took place in Seoul on November 23-24 under the chairmanship of Korea (Director-General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs Yun Hyunsoo).

2. This meeting, held in person for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19, was attended by around 40 officials representing five countries -- Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and Mongolia -- and international organizations, including the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) headquarters and the North-East Asia Office (serving as the NEASPEC Secretariat).

3. Director-General for Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Scientific Affairs Yun Hyunsoo, who chaired this meeting, noted NEASPEC's development as a comprehensive environmental cooperation body in North-East Asia in five major areas, including air pollution. He also expressed hope that member countries would actively explore new areas of cooperation and expand contributions, leading to further development of NEASPEC.

4. The member countries reviewed the ongoing projects and activities of NEASPEC in five major areas of cooperation -- air pollution, nature conservation and biodiversity, marine protected areas, low-carbon cities, and desertification and land degradation -- and engaged in in-depth discussions on ways to make progress in each area and enhance contributions of each member country.

5. Particularly, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the launch of NEASPEC, the member countries adopted the NEASPEC Commemorative Statement on Promoting Environmental Cooperation in North-East Asia. In the Statement, the member countries committed to optimizing NEASPEC's operation of coordination and decision-making processes and promoting science-policy linkages in order to accelerate the progress of NEASPEC's activities, projects and platforms. In addition, they envisioned strengthening its partnerships with stakeholders and identifying new areas of collaboration that require effective response in order to increase NEASPEC's contribution to regional environmental issues. They also committed to enhancing the SOM mechanism and encouraging voluntary contributions of the member states to enhance the effectiveness of NEASPEC's projects and activities.

6. The Korean government delegation introduced domestic efforts to reach carbon neutrality in Korea by 2050, and stated that Korea will make efforts to accelerate the global transition to clean energy by promoting the use of carbon-free energy sources, such as nuclear power and hydrogen, including through the Carbon Free Alliance launched in October. The Korean delegation also emphasized the importance of cooperation in addressing air pollution in the region through the North-East Asia Clean Air Partnership (NEACAP) and appreciated the progress in the ongoing policy and technological cooperation activities, while proposing expanding cooperation into the scientific field in the near future.

7. At the Commemorative Event of the 30th Anniversary of NEASPEC held ahead of this meeting, government representatives from the member countries and experts in various fields acknowledged the notable achievements of NEASPEC over the past 30 years as the only comprehensive environmental forum in the region, and exchanged views on ways to further advance NEASPEC.

8. This meeting served as an opportunity to reaffirm the leadership of the Korean government, which has led regional efforts in North-East Asia to address transboundary environmental issues, including fine dust and yellow dust, and lay the groundwork for revitalizing environmental cooperation in North-East Asia, which has faced challenges in making progress due to factors such as COVID-19.