Thursday, April 22, 2010

Korean president calls river project his ‘Green New Deal’

Kim So-hyun in the Korea Herald: President Lee Myung-bak championed his controversial river restoration project as his “Green New Deal” for both environmental protection and economic growth at an international forum here yesterday. “The four-river restoration project is an exemplary ‘Green New Deal’ that seeks both environmental protection and economic growth,” Lee said during a speech at the Business for the Environment Global Summit conference marking the 40th Earth Day.

“Through the restoration project, (the Seoul government) will improve the quality of water in the four major rivers and increase water supply by more than 1.3 billion tons to prevent water shortages in the future and enhance productivity through reuse.”

Lee’s administration launched the 22 trillion won ($20 billion) project last year to clean up the nation’s four major rivers -- the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan -- and restore their banks, claiming it will also help prevent floods. But a number of opposition politicians, religious figures and environmental activists have argued that it would actually worsen the conditions of the rivers.

Citing research reports that 40 percent of the world’s population would face a chronic shortage of water by 2030, Lee reiterated that his river restoration project would help increase water supply and productivity. “You will be able to witness the outcome (of the river project) with your own eyes when you visit Korea in 2012,” the president said, hinting on Korea’s bid to hold the United Nations Climate Change Conference in the southwestern city of Yeosu that year….

A view of the Nakdong River in Korea, shot by Robert at Picasa, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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