Global Leaders Pledge Inclusive Green Recovery at P4G Summit 

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Foreign leaders and heads of international organizations on Monday(May 30) pledged an inclusive green recovery for carbon neutrality and urged joint efforts to help developing countries join the initiative.

This year's Seoul event -- the second of its kind, following the inaugural summit in Denmark in 2018 -- originally was to be held last year but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was meaningful for the event to be held this year as it marks the year of implementing the Paris Agreement and Korea's carbon neutrality goals.

P4G stands for Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, a multilateral initiative for inclusive solutions to challenges in advancing the sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement. Korea was an inaugural member of the initiative, along with Denmark, the Netherlands, Vietnam and Ethiopia. Currently, 12 member countries make up the initiative.

Even though it was the first time South Korea had hosted a multilateral international meeting on the environment, the Seoul event has helped elevate the status of the summit by inviting nonmember countries like the US, China, Japan and the European Union and other developing partner nations and international organizations.

During the Leaders' Session on Sunday, more than 60 top government officials and heads of international organizations delivered prerecorded video speeches, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japan's Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.

The final Leaders' Dialogue Session on Monday was chaired by Moon and fourteen other world leaders joined the discussions online and shared their views on the green recovery, carbon neutrality and public-private partnerships.

The participants included John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate; Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen; Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha;、 Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission; and Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Korea aims to cut its carbon emissions by 24.4 percent from 2017 levels by 2030 as part of its blueprint to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Moreover, president Moon Jae-in pledged to raise the emissions target and to unveil the advanced goal at the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or the COP26, to be held in Glasglow, Scotland, in November. He also expressed Korea's intent to host the COP28, which is slated for 2023.

The Seoul Declaration was adopted following the Dialogue Session. "We reaffirm that the fight against COVID-19 leaves important lessons for the global response to the climate crisis and believe that the pandemic should be overcome through green recovery as a progressive strategy.

The extent to which the green recovery is implemented may reshape our economy and society and also be a turning point in our journey to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as the Sustainable Development Goals."

The Seoul Declaration also contained concrete commitments, including limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius degrees in line with the Paris Agreement, reducing dependency on coal-powered energy generation, and better responding to marine plastic issues. During the closing ceremony, Colombia was announced as the host nation of the next summit.

Seoul Declaration

1. We recognize the climate crisis as an urgent global threat whose impacts reach beyond the environment agenda to include economic, social, security and human rights-related challenges. We reaffirm that the fight against COVID-19 leaves important lessons for the global response to the climate crisis and believe that the pandemic should be overcome through green recovery as a progressive strategy. The extent to which the green recovery is implemented may reshape our economy and society and also be a turning point in our journey to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We need to engage in inclusive partnerships in which governments, businesses and civil society are part of collective solutions, for current and future generations.

2. We welcome the commitments to address climate change announced at the Climate Ambition Summit in December 2020, the Climate Adaptation Summit in January and the Leaders Summit on Climate in April this year. We have, looking forward to the commitments to be made at the G7, G20 and other international fora, agreed to further strengthen cooperation to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement while rendering our full support for a successful UNFCCC COP26 to be held in November 2021.

3. We, in this respect, highlight the efforts and potential of the public-private partnerships pursued by the "Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G)." We acknowledge that through public-private partnerships in five areas, namely water, energy, food and agriculture, cities and circular economy, P4G scales tangible and market-based solutions that complement international efforts led by the UN to respond to climate change and achieve the SDGs. We encourage further support for the initiative.

4. We acknowledge that green recovery should steer our efforts to rebuild the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to limit the temperature increase to well below 2°C aiming for 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with the Paris Agreement. We will strive to pursue green recovery as an inclusive process that reflects a just transition, taking into account different national circumstances as well as socially and environmentally vulnerable communities.

5. We welcome the ambitious NDCs already submitted by countries under the Paris Agreement and encourage other countries to submit enhanced NDCs at the earliest possible date and announce long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies well before UNFCCC COP26. We affirm such strengthened and joint efforts of the state and non-state actors will serve as a stepping stone for a successful COP26. We, with the whole P4G community, encourage energy transitions to ensure ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement.

6. We recognize that climate change, desertification and land degradation, and biodiversity loss are three of the greatest environmental challenges of our times and encourage approaches that will help respond to them in a way that maximizes co-benefits and minimizes trade-offs, such as ecosystem-based approaches including Nature Based Solutions. We believe that the New Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed during Biodiversity COP15 will catalyze our collective ambition for the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use and thus contribute, as appropriate, to climate change mitigation and adaptation. We note further that achieving Land Degradation Neutrality is a foundation for climate resilience and biodiversity conservation, contributing to multiple SDGs.

7. We agree on the severity of marine pollution and the need for global solidarity to address not least marine plastic issues. We take note that the oceans serve as natural carbon sinks and will make efforts to strengthen the sustainability of the oceans through decarbonization of maritime transport and prevent additional marine pollution.

8. We realize that developing new green technologies and scaling up the existing ones will expedite progress in achieving net zero emission. We will strengthen international cooperation to develop, improve and disseminate such technologies and investment necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

9. We will, taking inspiration from the discussions held during the P4G Green Future Week and Thematic Sessions, continue to promote global public-private partnerships:

ⅰ. We will drive investment in innovative solutions for sustainable water management through smart use of water resources, in recognition of the need for watershed governance to ensure universal access to clean water;

ⅱ. We will strengthen international cooperation to promote energy transition by increasing the share of renewables such as solar and wind energy in power generation, encourage to look for approaches to phase out existing coal and stop public financing for overseas construction of coal-fired power plants, focus on energy efficiency and promote the use of clean hydrogen particularly in hard-to-abate sectors;

ⅲ. We will strive to achieve sustainable and resilient agriculture and food systems centered on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, recognizing that droughts, floods, salination of freshwater, deforestation and agricultural water shortages caused by climate change can lead to food security challenges and that there are market-based solutions to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers and turn food loss and waste into a business and investment opportunity;

ⅳ. We will pursue smart and resilient green cities where humans coexist with nature in harmony, in recognition of the importance of climate action that will improve the quality of living and ensure sustainable development, by encouraging the expansion of climate-friendly zero emission transportation and shipping options and digital urban infrastructure with a particular focus on commercial deployment at scale;

ⅴ. We will promote the transition to a "zero-waste society" in which resources are used in a sustainable and efficient way including reduction of plastic pollutions, by strengthening international cooperation to establish and scale models for a circular economy where consumed resources are not disposed of but re-invested into the economy across the value chain;

ⅵ. We will encourage an increase in public and private sector funding for green investments, reflect on potential and existing policies to enable active private sector engagement and support green transition in developing countries;

ⅶ. We will advance an inclusive and just transition for socially vulnerable workers and communities that lack the capacity to respond to the climate crisis, including by providing financial resources to facilitate that transition.

ⅷ. We will enhance the roles of local governments in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs and encourage solidarity among them, in recognition of the significance of building the institutional foundation to strengthen efforts at the grassroots level.

10. We welcome the active role of civil society in raising public awareness and underscore the importance of their full and effective participation in climate action. We recognize that collaboration is crucial in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. We will nurture and encourage the engagement of local communities to this end.

11. We believe that businesses, related shareholders and economic organizations should engage more closely with stakeholders such as local communities and consumers and exert their best efforts to embed eco-friendly practices and behaviors in their activities. We recognize that Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) values are important standards that guide corporate evaluations while encouraging businesses to commit to improve their ESG performance. We take note that P4G partnerships respect the ESG standards and pursue -where available- science-based pathways in aligning with the Paris Agreement.

12. We acknowledge that the role of private investors and financial institutions is crucial in financing solutions to deliver on a net zero future. We call for investment in market-based solutions such as those systematically developed, for developing countries, by initiatives like P4G that are aligned with global climate and SDG agendas.

13. We believe that achieving the SDGs and building a low-carbon economy and society are essential for the survival of future generations. We, recognizing that our actions today will define our lives of tomorrow, will proactively share new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of the future generation through P4G partnerships as well as develop youth-driven platforms such as the Global Youth Climate challenges (GYCC) in the process. We will continue to pay close attention to the voices of the youth.

14. Building on the momentum created by the P4G Summit held in Copenhagen in October 2018, we extend our appreciation to the Republic of Korea, the host country of the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit, for bringing together the collective will of the international community to pursue "inclusive green recovery towards carbon neutrality." We look forward to the next P4G Summit to be held in Colombia in 2023.
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