Monday, April 9, 2012

Jeju's green image befits a world-class environmental forum

O’sulloc tea garden

As the early morning light hit the green rolling hills of the O’sulloc tea garden in Andeok district, Seogwipo City, late last month, those present for the first tea leaf picking of 2012 could say spring had truly arrived on Jeju.

Geography has made the first tea crop on Jeju an important event for the domestic tea industry.

“Symbolically, it’s important because we’re introducing the fresh [tea] out onto the market first,” said Howard Kim, group director for KPR & Associates. Inc., the public relations firm for O’sulloc farm. “This proves that Jeju is the perfect place to grow tea.”

The island’s clean environment is also a fitting venue for the world’s largest environment symposium. Held every four years, 2012 marks Jeju’s turn to host the World Conservation Congress (WCC).

The Korean government signed O’sulloc to be an official sponsor of the six-day event, Sept. 6 to Sept. 15.

In recognition of this agreement and the first tea picking of the season in the O’sullock tea fields, members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — the parent organization of the congress — Jeju WCC Promotion Office employees, and WCC Korea Organizing Committee members were on hand for a press event.

“Sulloc tea and its parent, Amorae Pacific, are sponsoring the congress and supporting the congress and all the aims of the congress as well,” said IUCN Director of Global Communications John Kidd. “And of course the congress being here in Jeju, it is wonderful that Sulloc being such an important part of the Jeju economy is supporting the congress.”

He added that not only will O’sulloc be a WCC sponsor, but “all the delegates who come to the congress — thousands and thousands of people — they’ll all have a chance to have some Sulloc green tea.”

Since 2009 the farming of the tea is 100 percent organic and a growing local business, so “it’s nice that a congress like the WCC, which is so much about sustainability, environmentally friendly agriculture has a supporter like O’sulloc green tea,” said Kidd.

With less than six months until Jeju hosts the congress, Kidd told The Weekly about some of the latest developments.

For one, the IUCN has been promoting the congress, and will continue to do so, through its various international events like the upcoming Rio+20 conference in Brazil this June. During this event, the IUCN — along with several Korean members — will be on hand to promote the Jeju WCC.

Kidd also outlined work on the World Leaders’ Dialog — a series of five debates by heads of state, important environmentalists, and business leaders, as well as a first in the WCC’s 64-year history — and elaborated on the themes that will be tackled during these sessions.

Nature+Climate, Nature+Food, and Nature+Economy, will look to find “nature-based solutions to climate change, food security, and economic growth,” Kidd said.

Nature+People will look at how societies manage and preserve nature through governance, and Nature+Life will examine the importance of biodiversity to our existence by questioning the economic and social value of nature.

Currently, the Jeju WCC Promotion Office is planning to transform the congress into a month-long affair expanding the venue from just the International Convention Center Jeju in Jungmun, Seogwipo City, to various locations on the island like the Haenyeo Museum in the northeast and other cultural sites.

“We have already meet the [residences] of the 11 spots and they support our plan,” said Kim Yang Bo, director of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province WCC Promotion Office. “They have come together to make the congress.”

He told The Weekly that the 11 locations have already compiled a total of 350 different programs that include festivals, concerts, and workshops to highlight the different village cultures and histories.


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