Webinar Series: Building Back Better in Korea and Elsewhere

May 20, 2020



The “building back better” approach promotes recovery that is sustainable, resilient and inclusive. Through this approach, UNDP aims to build resilience against future disasters by addressing climate and disaster risks while strengthening access to sustainable energy during the rebuilding process. This approach also addresses socioeconomic dimensions of recovery through policy and technical support and promotes greater participation by communities and marginalized groups (UNDP, 2020).

UNDP Seoul Policy Centre is organizing a series of environment-themed webinars focusing on 'Building Back Better'.


The first webinar on 28 May focused on:

Building Back Better: Green New Deal in Korea and Elsewhere

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge that has long-term implications beyond the public health sector with impacts on the global economy and overall sustainable development and attainment of the 2030 Agenda. The combination of COVID-19 and the dual Nature and Climate crises dramatically multiplies the risks to vulnerable communities. Environmental degradation and climate change could make these outbreaks more frequent.

UNDP’s COVID-19 response includes an integrated Nature, Climate and Energy Offer. UNDP is also playing an important role in the larger UN System response including by facilitating the socio-economic response at the country level in collaboration with UN Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams. UNDP, sister UN agencies, and partners are helping to ensure that countries “build back better, greener, and equitably”. UNDP is working with the public and private sectors to understand the social, economic, environmental and political impacts of the pandemic, and to find ways to support countries get ready for, respond to and recover from these impacts.

In the Republic of Korea, since the breakout of COVID-19 on 22 January 2020, the Government and public institutions have responded with the introduction of various innovative measures. Notably, with the Government's newly adopted Green New Deal plan, South Korea has become the first country in East Asia to pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

This webinar organized by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre included senior Korean experts, policymakers, and global development practitioners. They discussed: i) the proposed Green New Deal Plan and early Korean experience; ii) Global Perspectives in terms of trade-offs and synergies of a Green New Deal Plan in developing country contexts, their NDC implementation and overall SDGs attainment ambitions in the broader context of “Building Back Better.”

View the webinar recording here.


Dr. Young Sook Yoo, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Climate Change Center, Korea, and former Minister, Korea Ministry of Environment

Prof. Suh-Yong Chung, Professor, Division of International Studies, Korea University, international expert on climate change and sustainable development (Presentation slides)

Prof. Saleemul Huq, Senior Fellow, International Institute for Environment & Development, and Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh

Ms. Adriana Dinu, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP, NY

Dr. Stephan Klingebiel, Director, USPC (introduction), Seoul, South Korea

Dr. Sarwat Chowdhury, Policy Specialist, USPC (moderator), Seoul, South Korea


The second webinar on the World Environment Day (5 June) will focus on:

Building Back Better: Healthcare Waste Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly overwhelmed healthcare systems around the world. Testing and treating millions of individuals has resulted in a significant increase of healthcare waste, including waste associated with treatment such as dressings, syringes and injection needles, along with protective equipment such as masks and gloves. The improper disposal of healthcare waste during this crisis can lead to unforeseen secondary impacts on human health and the environment.

UNDP's COVID-19 response includes an integrated Health Systems Support offer. As part of a more comprehensive and coordinated UN response in supporting countries, this health system support focuses on ensuring that crisis management and recovery responses to COVID-19 are leaving no-one behind. UNDP developed, as part of its Health Support on COVID-19, a programme offer on healthcare waste management. This offer specifies 'policy, programme and resource mobilization support on healthcare waste management with the upgrading, provision, instalment of autoclaves and incinerators, and the associated training of health care workers in their use will reduce the level of exposure."

In the Republic of Korea, the COVID-19 outbreak started on 22 January 2020. Since then, public institutions have responded with various innovative measures aimed to manage the crisis. The government acted quickly and preemptively to accommodate increased healthcare waste with amendments to the Waste Control Act Enforcement Decree. Furthermore, the Korea Centers for Disease Control outlined COVID-19 Response Directives, which specified steps for disposal, storage, and delivery, including disposal guidelines for patients at home and individuals in government-designated facilities.

This webinar organized by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre will focus on healthcare waste management and will include Korean and international practitioners. They will discuss: i) Korea's healthcare waste management strategy and experiences on the ground within the context of COVID-19; ii) the WHO and UNDP guidance on healthcare waste management in response to COVID-19, with a focus on challenges and innovations among developing countries.

View the webinar recording here.


Dr. Junho Kim, Medical Waste Management Expert, Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco), affiliated with the Ministry of Environment, the Republic of Korea (presentation slides)

Ms. Xiaofang Zhou, Director, Montreal Protocol and Chemicals Unit, UNDP, NY

Dr. Ute Pieper, Healthcare Waste Management Expert working with both the WHO and UNDP, Germany (presentation slides)

Dr. Stephan Klingebiel, Director, USPC (introductory remarks), Seoul, Republic of Korea

Dr. Sarwat Chowdhury, Policy Specialist, USPC (moderator), Seoul, Republic of Korea