KELVIN KACHINGWE, Incheon, Songdo
FOR those that follow the beautiful game of football, South Korea is familiar territory.
This is where the Zambia national football team performed exploits when Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. Zambia reached the quarter finals after edging Italy and Guatemala by 4-0 scorelines and drawing two all with Iraq before falling at the hands of West Germany by 4-0.
Almost 30 years later, the junior Chipolopolo would be in South Korea to compete at the FIFA under-20 World Cup reaching the quarter finals. It was a respectable campaign although some fans think the boys could have gone further had the technical bench applied some astute tactics particularly with their substitutions in the quarter final game against the Italians.
But another Zambian delegation was in South Korea a fortnight ago although for a different mission.
South Korea was itself in the news for much of last month because of the Winter Olympics that PyeongChang was hosting.
One of the striking aspects of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics was a historic inter-Korean agreement which flashed out the terms of North Korea’s participation in the games. Under these terms, North Korea, which is technically at war with South Korea, was able to send 22 athletes alongside a delegation of top-echelon political leaders and cheerleaders. In fact, the two Koreas’ athletes marched together under the Korea Unification Flag and in marching uniforms at the opening ceremony.
It was a momentous occasion which mainstream media fed on for the duration of the games and even afterwards.
The Korea Herald put it well.
“North Korea’s participation – largely seen as a diplomatic charm offensive to earn breathing space from mounting international sanctions – was a sudden reprieve from months and years of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, perennially under the cloud of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats,” the paper read on its front page of February 26.
“The two sides – technically still at war with each other since the 1950-53 Korean War ended only in a cease-fire – also formed a joint women’s hockey team, comprising 23 South Korean and 12 North Korean athletes.
“Despite the team losing all five matches by a combined score of 28-2, many people expressed sympathy toward their raison d’etre – the embodiment of sorority, fair play and peace.”
When the Zambian delegation reached South Korea to attend the nineteenth board meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Winter Olympics were also just coming to a close.
By then, it had been confirmed that Germany had won the overall top spot after collecting 14 gold, nine silver and seven bronze. An impressive Norway collected 13 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze while Canada had 11 gold, eight silver and 10 bronze. The United States took fourth spot.
The host nation did not do much well in the actual games but still impressed with what it showcased, particularly during the closing ceremony.
The news media reported how the closing ceremony highlighted the country’s future and modernity as well as aspiration for peace, accentuated by state-of-the-art technologies, extravagant displays of aesthetics and Korea pop music.
Titled “The Next Wave”, the ceremony at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium was attended by an estimated 35,000 people who included United States first daughter Ivanka Trump and senior officials from North Korea.
But as Zambia, for obvious reasons, does not participate in the Winter Games, the Zambian delegation’s interest was solely focused on the GCF board meeting that was taking place in Songdo, about 65km southwest of Seoul where Zambia maintains an embassy.
Two Zambian projects were coming up for consideration by the GCF board meeting that took place at the G-Tower.
Fortunately, both projects were approved a day before the board meeting ended.
The GCF approved a combined total of US$84.5 million for two Zambian project proposals in agriculture and energy that Zambia submitted.
The agriculture project developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) got a US$32 million GCF approval in funding that triggered an additional US$105,269 million co-financing that will be provided by the UNDP and Government to bring the project aggregate to US$137.269 in total.
The Zambia Renewable Energy Financing Framework energy project which is being supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB) got a US$52.5 million approval in funding by the GCF and triggered an additional US$52.5 million to be provided by the AfDB as co-financing to bring the total project sum to US$105 million.
The total net worth of the two projects is, therefore, US$242.269 million of which the GCF component is a combined total of US$84.5 million representing 51 percent of the total US$165.8 million total GCF funding to Africa approved at the board meeting.
Songdo is in Incheon City, which prides itself in being a model city for climate response.
According to the Incheon Songdo newsletter, which is published by the Incheon Municipality City, it aims to take climate change as a new opportunity for development into an environment-friendly and sustainable city.
The strategic targets include improving air quality, making a resource-circulating clean city, improving policies related to the metropolitan area landfill site, preserving clean and ecologically healthy water environment, and creating green spaces and parks for citizens.
But there is a lot to admire about Incheon, a free economic zone which was established in 2011.
For instance, the landfill site is one of the world’s largest waste treatment complexes processing thousands of tonnes of waste daily.
But there is also continuous large-scale construction such as the 250 solar park, Koreas largest photovoltaic power station to be built within the metropolitan area. The construction is expected to generate over 450,000 jobs in the short term and over 7,000 per annum in the longer term.
There is also the fine dusting project.
For instance, in transportation, about 14,500 old vehicles in 2017 and an additional 18,500 this year have had an exhaust gas reduction device installed. The government also plans to put 500 electric cars on the road this year following 358 last year.
In daily life, the city will supply 29 more equipment for removing fugitive dust on paved roads and water-clean a total of 14,500kilometres of roads. Further, 100 elementary, middle and high schools will be supplied with dust suppressants while day-care centres, elementary schools and elderly centres will be provided with air purifiers.
There is also a project of planting 30 million trees which was launched in 2016. This has led to 5.79 million new trees being planted in the last two years.
The aim is to be a global green city.
KELVIN KACHINGWE, Incheon, Songdo