A conference on sustainable development in North Korea began in Pyongyang on Wednesday, according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday.
The conference is organized by the Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) and hosted by North Korea’s Ministry of Land and Environment Protection (MoLEP).
“Experts from Malaysia, U.S., China, India and (the) UK arrived here Tuesday to participate in the Pyongyang International Conference on Promoting Sustainable Development,” the KCNA article reads.
In total representatives from as many as 16 countries will be participating in the conference, which runs until Friday, according to a KPP document shared with NK News.
The document added that 120 North Korean environment experts will be in attendance, as well as domestic academics, government officials, and foreign diplomats.
“Participants will share their diverse views and experience on sustainable development in the fields of climate change, sustainable tourism, and management of forestry, agriculture, waste, and water,” the document reads.
MoLEP has been active in promoting initiatives in North Korea such as a nation wide afforestation campaign. The campaign was referred to at the 2015 Paris Climate Talks as Kim Jong Un’s “war on deforestation” by Ri Su Yong, the then North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Deforestation and the decimation of the environment has been an ongoing problem in North Korea. A 2004 study by the Korea Environment Institute said that between 1970 to the late 1990s there had been a 17 percent reduction in forest cover in the country.
This is reported to have taken place as North Korea sought to supplement food and energy shortages by creating more agricultural land and logging.
Deforestation “has increased the rapidity of run-off, soil erosion, and river bed silting, and ultimately to flooding,” a paper titled “Famine in North Korea: Causes and Cures” co-authored by “Witness to Transformation” author, Marcus Noland, said.
North Korea is currently experiencing fallout from severe flooding in its northeastern regions.
The country has also promoted greater awareness of climate change and sustainable development, reportedly setting up a “green fund” in 2014 in order to “to contribute to ensuring a sustainable and stable economic development, providing a better ecological and living environment.”
KPP Director Kyung-Ae Park of the University of British Columbia (UBC) helped organize the environmental conference and has long been an advocate of “knowledge sharing” with the DPRK.
The KPP also hosts North Korean scholars at UBC and has so far facilitated short-term visits by 36 North Korean academics through its Visiting Scholar Program.
“The objective of KPP’s engagement initiative is to facilitate scholarly exchanges with North Korea for human capacity building through knowledge-sharing,” Park said in an article published by NK News in 2014.
“It aims to provide North Korean scholars with meaningful opportunities to interact with the Western scholarly community and expand their base of knowledge.”
This is the first event to be held in Pyongyang with the participation of the KPP since 2014, when it took part in a conference on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) hosted by the Korea Economic Development Association (KEDA).
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: Migok Farm. Sariwŏn, North Korea. by (stephan) on 2008-06-12 12:14:18