2021 Goyang City Forum, Ro Korea

The 2021 Goyang City Forum, following the first forum in 2019, was launched under the theme, ‘A Sustainable City for Citizen’s Happiness.’ The 3-day event took place from 28-30 June 2021 inviting experts from the three pillars in urban regeneration, climate action and environment and lifelong learning. The goal was to continue Ro Korea Goyang City’s strong drive in carrying on the momentum to establish an eco-friendly and carbon-neutral city. Hence the forum encouraged experts to review and direct policies that will contribute to seek a coexisting city for the people and nature.

The EAAFP Secretariat took part in the local tour of climate action and environment to experience and understand the local characteristic of the sites. On the first day, the tour started in Janghang Wetland Observatory, which Janghang Wetland (EAAF 143, ROK), a estuarine wetland located in the Han River estuary at the trans-boundary between Ro Korea and DPR Korea has recently been recognized as a Ramsar Site, 21 May 2021. The next site was Haengju Fortress, a historic site symbolizing peace to the local community. Then followed the Goyang DaeDeok Eco Park, displaying the beauty of its reed community and shore crab bridge. The three coastal sites along the Han River estuary resonates the coexisting ecosystem of people and nature, sharing their unique narratives of ecological connectivity of Goyang City. Then we toured the Zero Carbon Green Home sharing the innovative approaches to secure energy efficiency and reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions in buildings and residential areas in Goyang City. Lastly, EAAFP Secretariat had the opportunity to visit Ilsan Lake Park, the largest artificial lake park in Ro Korea. The lake safeguards red-crowned cranes (Natural Monument No. 202) presented by Qiqihar City of China and exhibits an ecofriendly water flow improving the water quality using reeds and cattails.

Janghang Wetland center ©Goyang City

Ilsan Lake Park ©Yoo Jung Kwon


After the local tour, a local forum was held with different stakeholders including government officials and civil societies under the topic, ‘Discussion on how to build a carbon-neutral city.’ Three speakers presented their insights and suggestions on the management and direction of Goyang as a sustainable city. The first presenter, Mr. Jeong Dal-Yong, Director of the Green City Division shared the energy efficiency in building sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The second presenter, Mr. Cho Dong-Woo the senior researcher from the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology discussed the key issues around the energy consumption in building sectors. The last presenter, Dr. Donguk Han the ECO Korea PGA Director shared the potential future of Goyang as a wetland city, and the efforts to strengthen ecological connectivity between Janghang wetland and associated sites including the buffer zone of Ramsar Site, the eco-park and lake park. During the panel discussion, Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of the Secretariat, shared his impression during the local tour, and supported the concept of ‘ecofriendly’ and ‘carbon neutral’ through securing the connectivity among key sites along the Janghang wetland. Hence, this effort comes through engagement of citizen participation, ensuring all stakeholders have a shared understanding of what goals are needed to be set forward following the successful Ramsar site nomination of Janghang wetland.

During Local Forum presentations ©Goyang City

Local Forum group photo ©Goyang City


The official Forum on the second day, was arranged with three main pillars, session 1: lifelong learning, session 2: urban regeneration, and session 3: climate action and environment. In Session 3, experts from governmental to international organizations shared different perceptions and approaches benefiting Goyang City to leverage its leadership as a future city, achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 through a cohesive and sustainable outlook. The first presenter, Mr. Nam Jonghyo the Chief Technical Advisor from UN Habitat shared their ambition and perspective on low emission development for a sustainable city. Hence, to build a better urban future, social inclusivity, resiliency, and safety must not be undermined. As well as, UN Habitat’s campaign, Climate Action 4 Cities 2021 aims to inspire and mobilize leaders for a greener urban and human settlement.

Mr. Nam Jonghyo presentation ©Yoo Jung Kwon


The second presenter, Mr. Mark Buttigieg, Economic Diplomacy Counsellor from the British Embassy Seoul shared UK’s approach and COP26 priorities and the opportunities within the green and just transition. Mr. Buttigieg highlighted that as our world is at the midst of finding solutions on the growing conflict all over the world, climate change and biodiversity loss will be UK’s top international priority. Thus, the four steps to sustain our livelihood, communities and future are to act now, demand more action, be ambitious and prosper once committed to their targets.

Mr. Mark Buttigieg presentation ©Yoo Jung Kwon


The last presenter, Mr. Doug Watkins highlighted focusing on the bigger picture of Goyang for their next step, managing a bigger site of the associated Han River wetlands through an integrated manner and developing a plan for the transboundary Ramsar site with DPRK in the future. As well as he mentioned in finding a strategic approach (e.g. action plan) by establishing a local government network along Han River, strengthening capacity to monitor and manage the wetland together. One of the biggest comparisons in Ro Korea to Australia which secures 65 Ramsar sites, is the lack of technical expertise and high turnover rate of the local government. Yet he highlighted the advantages in Ro Korea, through collaboration with Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia (RRC-EA) to assist keen local citizens and enhance better understanding of the Ramsar approach for strategic planning and assessment to local governments. Furthermore, Mr. Doug supported Dr. Han’s suggestion to make relevant regulations for wetlands protection and a joint Han River estuary protection. The presentation concluded with high hopes on Goyang City to be designated as a Ramsar Wetland City in the near future.

Mr. Doug Watkin presentation ©Goyang City


Followed was a panel discussion on the topic, ‘How can Goyang become a Carbon Neutral and Ecofriendly City.’ Mr. Choi Jai Chul, the president of Bureau International des Expositions, highlighted the role of local governments and corporates to reach carbon neutrality in a creative way, as local governments like Goyang will need to play a proactive role. Dr. Han pointed out to ‘think global and act local,’ hence, to create an ecological welfare city, potentially expanding the site through linking with other sections of the Han River can be executed by establishing an integrated wetland management committee. As well as Dr. Han highlighted the need for a stronger leadership in Goyang so other cities can locate core estuaries of Han River to conserve and designate as a Ramsar wetland site.

The 2021 Goyang City Forum ended on a very optimistic note. Mayor Lee Jae Joon highlighted once again that Goyang City can revitalize and regenerate what was once lost during the global pandemic. The values that have been highlighted and driven by experts, citizens, and all stakeholders throughout the 3-day event will only be the beginning of building back a better, smarter, and more sustainable future.

Goyang City Forum 2021 ©Goyang City


Further reading:


Watch the Goyang City Forum – Day 3 Policy Session

Goyang City Forum 2021 – Day 3 (Korean):

Goyang City Forum 2021 – Day 3 (English):

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