International and regional environmental organizations and experts gathered in Seoul in May 2019 to explore ways to promote cross-border conservation in the Korean Peninsula, building on green initiatives launched after the historic 2018 Korean leaders’ summit.
The Northwest Pacific Action Plan of the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme participated in the regional briefing on environment conservation and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula. The meeting was organized by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership, the Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea and the Ramsar Convention Regional Center.
Following the 2018 Summit between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, many environmental organizations have stepped up activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Meanwhile, the country joined the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership and became a Party to the UN Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The National Wetland Inventory of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was published in October 2018. Contacts have been established between the country’s Ministry of Land and Environment Protection and more than 20 international environmental conservation organizations.
Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea, (a non-profit political organization based in Seoul), the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (a network aims to protect migratory waterbirds, their habitat and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them), the Ramsar Convention Regional Center, Birds Korea, a Republic of Korea-based non-governmental organization and the Beijing Office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have launched conservation activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Hanns Seidel Foundation has organized five conservation workshops in Pyongyang which were attended by about 260 participants. Another 750 participants were trained in training workshops organized by the group around the country.
At the Seoul meeting, Birds Korea shared findings of its surveys for a wetland project in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The northeast coast of the Korean Peninsula is an important habitat for waterbirds and seabirds and a potential eco- and avian-tourism destination.
According to the New Zealand-based Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists’ Trust, with continuing habitat loss around much of the Yellow Sea, tidal flats in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea offer a safety net habitat for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. However, tideland reclamation is accelerating.
At the Seoul meeting, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership highlighted the case of the Mundok Migratory Bird Reserve located along the Chongchon River estuary in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The country’s Ministry of Land and Environment Protection plans to promote the Mundok Migratory Bird Reserve as a model for wetland conservation in the country.
Northwest Pacific Action Plan Programme Officer Ning Liu said that participation in the Seoul meeting was a valuable opportunity to explore how the UN Environment Regional Seas Programme can use its regional cooperation-based approach to promote marine environmental conservation on the Korean Peninsula.