Empowering International Partnerships: UNU-FLORES and K-ECO Share Environmental Vision Through GELP

The Korea Environment Corporation and the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea hosted the Night for Future Environmental Experts event.

Serin Park and Minjeong Choi report.

On September 1, 2023, the ‘2023 Night for Future Environmental Experts’ event was hosted by the Korea Environment Corporation (K-ECO) and the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea. This event marked a significant moment for UNU-FLORES, reaffirming its valuable cooperation with K-ECO and expanding its global network. The occasion celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Global Environmental Leaders Program (GELP), attracting alumni from around the world. Among the attendees were former GELP members and current Korean colleagues at UNU-FLORES: Minjeong Choi, Hyejin Im, Suhyun Ryu, and Serin Park.

UNU-FLORES and K-ECO have maintained a close collaboration since 2014; throughout this time, K-ECO has consistently dispatched Korean interns to UNU-FLORES through GELP. To date, UNU-FLORES has welcomed a total of 26 GELP alumni, including three current research interns and one senior research assistant. Alongside fostering young researchers through internships, the two organisations actively share environmental expertise and research information through collaborative projects and institutional-level events.

Professor Edeltraud Guenther, Director of UNU-FLORES, delivered a pre-recorded video message to K-ECO, celebrating the event and expressing her delight at the enduring collaboration between UNU-FLORES and K-ECO. She highlighted three successful projects from 2020, demonstrating the effectiveness of collective action in addressing pressing environmental challenges. Professor Guenther also praised the collaborative efforts of the partnership, and shared her anticipation for more talented Korean students to join UNU-FLORES in the future.

Professor Guenther expresses her appreciation for the K-ECO partnership with UNU-FLORES

The celebration featured congratulatory messages from distinguished guests, including:

  • Anne Juepner, Director of UNDP Seoul Policy Center
  • Kyung-Nam Shin, Assistant Director-General and Head of Investment & Policy Solutions Division of the GGGI
  • Notable GELP alumni, working at the South Korea NGO Climate Change Center and Samsung Electronics.

The online networking event provided attendees with a valuable opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, expand their professional networks, and engage in meaningful activities. K-ECO allowed attendees to introduce themselves and briefly share their working experiences at UNU-FLORES as research interns and senior research assistants. In response to a question from one alumnus about the difficulties faced by science and engineering students in entering international organisations, Serin shared her own research experiences at UNU-FLORES, emphasising that she also came from an engineering background. Additionally, Minjeong pointed out that UNU-FLORES, as a ‘UN university,’ comprises many researchers with science and engineering backgrounds.

Empowering International Partnerships
Current and former GELP members attend the event on Zoom and in person in Seoul

We extend our gratitude to K-ECO for their support in enabling our UNU-FLORES colleagues to participate virtually via Zoom in this event held in Seoul, South Korea. Furthermore, UNU-FLORES wishes to share its continued appreciation of their enduring partnership with K-ECO, which has paved the way for impactful work and the exchange of environmental expertise as a testament to the power of international alliances driving positive change. The Environmental Leaders Program (GELP), facilitated by K-ECO, has proven to be a cornerstone of success, fostering young talents, and furthering our collective mission to address critical environmental challenges. We look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership and the continued growth of our shared commitment to a sustainable future.