Clockwise from top left: Gerd Leonhard, Ban Ki-moon, Yun Sun-jin, Juan Manuel Santos, John Murton, Matthias Bausenwein, Sam Kimmins, Oh Jeong-hwa, Yoon Hyeon-jeong, Prince Ea (The Korea Herald)
The H.eco Forum on environmental issues will be launched on June 10 in Seoul, bringing together policymakers, businesspeople, scholars and activists to discuss what actions must be taken at individual, business and governmental levels to avert a climate catastrophe.
Under the theme “We face the Climate Clock,” the first edition of the H.eco Forum will center on addressing climate change -- the biggest crisis faced by humanity -- and the need for drastic changes to every aspect of our lives to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The monument-sized Climate Clock, which is the third of its kind in the world and the first in Korea, is set up on the roof of the Herald Corp. headquarters office in Huam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. The Climate Clock shows that Earth has about 6 years, 235 days, 6 hours, 6 minutes and 42 seconds left before climate change becomes irreversible, based on current emission rates. (Park Hae-mook/The Herald Business)
The Climate Clock was installed on the roof of Herald Corp.’s headquarters in central Seoul earlier this month, as part of a campaign to make climate change as relevant as possible to people’s lives and to send a direct visual warning that the Earth has a deadline. It is the world’s third monumental Climate Clock to be built in the world.
The Climate Clock in Seoul shows that we have less than seven years to reduce emissions if we are to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible. The story behind the arrival of the Climate Clock and a greetings message from Gan Golan, one of the Climate Clock’s creators, will be disclosed in a video at the forum.
This year’s H.eco Forum will be held online in consideration of participants’ health and safety amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Only speakers based in Korea will be invited in person to the event to be held at Multipurpose Hall Forest on Nodeulseom in Seoul, while foreign speakers will give speeches virtually from where they are -- from Seoul, Bogota to London.
The forum features an impressive lineup of speakers to give the audience a thorough overview of where we stand in terms of climate change through data, science, experience and artworks, what actions must be taken at different levels and what solutions exist.
Beginning with a congratulatory speech by President Moon Jae-in, it will then be followed by keynote speeches by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose role was critical in bringing the entire world together to the Paris Climate Agreement during his 10-year tenure, and renowned futurist Gerd Leonhard, who has authored five bestselling books including “Technology vs. Humanity.”
The first session will closely look into governments’ policies, importance of international cooperation and political leadership in tackling climate change.
Opening the first session is Yun Sun-jin, chairperson of South Korea’s sustainable development committee, who will speak on the Korean government’s climate goals and action plans. Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia, will highlight needs for a global green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. John Murton, the UK government’s envoy for the 26th round of vital UN Climate talks, called COP26, will speak about climate diplomacy and the UK’s efforts to push governments around the world to make more ambitious emission reduction targets.
In the second session, industry efforts for a green transition and best practices will be showcased. Matthias Bausenwein, president of Orsted Asia Pacific will share experiences of Orsted’s remarkable transformation from a traditional fossil-fuel company into a renewable energy giant. Sam Kimmins, who is leading the global RE100 campaign, will introduce their initiative and why more companies must commit to 100 percent renewable energy-powered operations for their own survival. The session will end with Oh Jeong-hwa, director of Amorepacific’s Sustainability Division, who will talk about the cosmetics firm’s eco-friendly drive to appeal to green consumers.
The third session is dedicated to underscoring the role of activism in overcoming the climate crisis. Teenage climate activist Yoon Hyeon-jeong will tell the audience how climate change has taken away her hopes and dreams for the future and appeal for more urgent, bolder action to go coal-free by 2030 and carbon-free before 2050. American rapper Prince Ea, who has used his influence to raise awareness on the climate crisis, will talk about the power of using individuals’ own voices and creativity to make change.
The session is to be followed by a panel moderated by Greenpeace campaigner Jane Yu. Activists including Kim Seo-gyung, who is a member of a global group of K-pop fans fighting for climate change, Jo Eun-byeol and film director Kim Jae-han will join the talk to discuss the importance of solidarity for climate action.
The forum will also include a special session involving artists, who created a series of experimental artworks “Heartbeat of the Earth,” in collaboration with the Google Arts & Culture Lab and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Using their creative interpretation, the artists will showcase their take on climate data to visualize rising sea levels, acidifying oceans and more.
Those who wish to join the forum can now pre-register on the H.eco website, heraldeco.com.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org