i. Climate change context
The Republic of Korea, which has a population of over 51.7 million, is the world’s third most densely populated country, according to the World Bank. It is an eastern Asian nation in the mid-latitude zone and has four distinct seasons. The temperature in the Republic of Korea has increased by 1.8°C over the last century (1912-2010) due to climate change and urbanization. According to the 4th National Communication, “climate change projections indicate that the average temperature and precipitation in the Republic of Korea will rise by 2.9℃ and by 38.8mm, respectively, in the second half of this century (2071-2100)” (2019, p. 10).
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, the Republic of Korea is a high emitting country with per person emissions of 12tCO2 in 2019. The highest emitting sectors in the Republic of Korea are manufacturing, as well as steelmaking, petrochemicals, and oil refinery.
Despite continuous population growth and a high manufacturing and export share, the Republic of Korea has made efforts to develop a low carbon economy and address climate change. For example, the Republic of Korea has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 37% against a business-as-usual scenario by 2030 as part of its Paris Agreement commitments (The 2030 Framework Greenhouse Gas mitigation Roadmap, 2018). However, according to Climate Action Tracker, the targets in Korea’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) would lead to a temperature increase of between 2°C and 4°C. In other words, the Republic of Korea’s targets are not consistent with limiting global warming below 2°C, let alone meeting the Paris Agreement’s aim for 1.5°C.
The Republic of Korea is classified as a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country under the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which it ratified in 1994. The Republic of Korea ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, submitted its acceptance of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC in 2015, and ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Republic of Korea deals with climate change as a national issue and various government ministries are involved in climate activities. The Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Fiscal and Financial Policy Office and the Green Growth Support Group is the country’s national coordination mechanism for climate change responses.
One of the Ministry of Environment’s principal functions is to respond to climate change through developing mid-to-long term national strategies. The Ministry is also responsible for reviewing climate change education programs and establishing certification procedures. To foster a low-carbon lifestyle for future generations, the Ministry of Environment has developed customized education programs by age and generation and prepared relevant policy measures for their implementation. The Ministry of Environment is also responsible for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Research Center of Korea, as well as the Korea Forest Service.
Outsourced by the Ministry of Environment, the Korea Meteorological Administration is responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and predicting climate change. The Administration also makes climate change data available to policymakers.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is also involved in determining greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets alongside the Ministry of Environment.
The Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco), is an organization established by Law No. 11446 (also known as the K-eco Act) to take care of the environment. According to Article 1 of the K-eco Act, the Korea Environment Corporation was created, “in an effort to handle environment-related projects, with maximum efficiency and to establish a circulatory resource management system while also presenting an environmental blue-print for national development” (Article 1). Climate change and atmosphere are one of the Korea Environment Corporation’s main portfolios. This portfolio involves strengthening the country’s climate change responses by nurturing experts in greenhouse gas management, operating the Green Campus initiative, and running the Climate Change Promotion Portal. The country’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point is housed within the Korea Environment Corporation.
The Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change launched in 2009. It is a think tank that supports adaptation policy and research on climate change. The center also operates the Climate Change Adaptation Information Portal, which gives easy access to climate change information.
The Ministry of Land is responsible for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions and climate change adaptation.
Education and communication
Two central government ministries are responsible for climate change communication and education in the Republic of Korea.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for implementing school-based climate change education. The Ministry of Education has not designated climate change education as a separate subject but has placed climate change education content under the umbrella of Environmental Education.
Also under the Ministry of Education is the National Education and Training Institute, which is responsible for teacher training. Teacher training courses include climate change and sustainable development.
The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation is a research institute for national curriculum and evaluation. The Ministry of Education and the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation conduct research on the national curriculum database and archive information in the National Curriculum Information Center data.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Education Center, which falls under the Ministry of Environment, is responsible for social environmental education in the country. Social environmental education covers climate change education to the public as well as public awareness related to climate change outside of schools.
Under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the Korea Energy Agency is responsible for climate change communication. The Agency provides both school and social environmental education, with a focus on energy savings, energy conservation, and a low-carbon lifestyle.
In addition, a number of non-state actors, such as non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations are also involved in climate change education and communication in the Republic of Korea.
iii. Laws, policies, and plans
In 2009, the Lee Myung-bak government announced Low-Carbon Green Growth as a national strategy to reduce the country’s high dependence on fossil fuel imports and foster sustainable energy industry development. Therefore, the Low-Carbon Green Growth strategy was adopted to establish a new paradigm whereby the government simultaneously protects the environment and stimulates economic growth through green conversion.
In 2010, the Republic of Korea enacted the Framework Act on Low-Carbon Green Growth to pave the way for the Low-Carbon Green Growth Strategy. The Framework Act on Low Carbon Green Growth (2010) includes the government’s responsibility on climate change communication and education. Article 59 addresses the promotion of green lifestyles through education and communication as follows:
The Government shall ensure that industrial entities and citizens can participate voluntarily in policies and activities for low carbon and green growth, so that they can practice green life culture in their daily lives by expanding education and public relations activities for low carbon, green growth. (Article 59)
In 2016, the Republic of Korea established the 2030 Basic Roadmap for Achieving the National Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target, according to the 2030 Framework Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Roadmap (2020). In 2018, the 2030 Framework Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Roadmap was announced to achieve the national greenhouse gas reduction targets promised to the international community. This Framework aims to strengthen energy demand management and promote efficiency in each sector of the country. The ideal amount of energy reduction in each field was determined through public consultation processes, including analysis by experts, public online and offline surveys, and three public debates.
In 2019, the Ministry of Environment announced the 2nd Basic Plan for Climate Change Response to tackle climate change. The Plan aims to limit total annual national greenhouse gas emissions to 536 MtCO2eq per year by 2030 and improve the ability of all sectors to adapt to climate change, while implementing a sustainable, low-carbon, green society. The Plan represents a practical regulatory framework and includes predicted costs and methods to achieve the goals. The Plan also states the government’s intention to minimize climate change impacts and strengthen the country’s infrastructure to minimize the impacts of disasters and dangerous conditions.
In 2020, the national government announced a new climate policy, the Framework on the Korean New Deal, also known as the Green New Deal. The government announced that it would expand its investment in the Green New Deal to transform companies into eco-friendly, low-carbon environments for implementing this policy. Furthermore, through this policy, the Republic of Korea aims to prepare for climate change through renewable energy innovations.
The Ministry of Environment also announced the 3rd National Climate Change Adaptation Plan in 2020. This Adaptation Plan is based on Article 48 of the Framework Act on Low-Carbon Green Growth, which states:
The government shall make preferential efforts to prevent damage caused by climate change and formulate and implement adaptive measures to mitigate the effects of climate change or respond to health, natural disasters, etc., as prescribed by Presidential Decree. (2010, Article 48)
The Adaptation Plan references international climate change agreements, includes national measures for climate change adaptation, acknowledges vulnerable groups due to climate change, and outlines disaster prevention strategies. It also outlines plans for improved monitoring and forecasting of climate change. Further, the Adaptation Plan mandates municipalities and local governments to plan for and adapt to climate change, requiring them to establish their own climate change adaptation plans.
The 4th National Communication of the Republic of Korea was submitted in November 2019. It outlines the country’s efforts and achievements in mitigating climate change, such as national climate adaptation, greenhouse gas inventories, and climate change policies and actions. The Low Carbon Green Growth Strategy is captured in this document, which refers to the strategy as “win-win for relations between environment and economy” (2019, p. 6).
Education and communication
The Republic of Korea has adopted various laws, policies, and plans regarding climate change communication and education.
The Environmental Education Promotion Act was enacted in 2008. The Act supports access to education on environmental conservation and sustainable development with a focus on preventing and addressing environmental problems, including climate change. It states in Article 1:
The purpose of this Act is to vitalize environmental education by providing for matters necessary for the promotion of environmental education and contribute to the sustainable development of the nation and local communities by achieving harmony between human beings and nature. (2008)
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) together with the National Curriculum Framework of pre-primary education (2015) steer formal education in the country. Both frameworks make references to climate change.
The 3rd Masterplan of Environmental Education (2020) was created to provide intensive support for climate change communication and education. It includes plans to develop and disseminate climate change education materials linked to the school curriculum and support university students' climate change activities. For example, the Masterplan aims to build a national and local climate change education and communication framework and “nurture eco-citizens for a sustainable future” (2020, p. 3).
According to the country’s Education Sector Plan (2021), the Ministry is also responsible for fostering school cultures that include an eco-friendly educational environment. The Plan also notes the Ministry of Education’s intentions to prepare for climate change, including using fewer plastics and controlling food waste from the education sector. The Plan also states that environmental and ecological education will be reinforced in the National Curriculum in order to respond to climate change. Finally, the Plan contains a section on higher education in the Republic of Korea, however, it makes no mention of climate change.
To enhance their climate change responses, the country is developing solutions by identifying climate issues by sector. The 2020 Framework on The Republic of Korean New Deal includes a focus on eco-friendly school building renovations and adopting future-oriented education technologies to provide a green environment.
iv. Terminology used for climate change communication and education
The Republic of Korea uses process-oriented terms to foster environmental awareness, attitudes, and values over a long period.
The Environmental Education Promotion Act (2008) references ‘climate change,’ ‘environmental conservation,’ and ‘sustainable development’ in relation to the curriculum. For instance, Article 1 notes the need for learners “to contribute to environmental conservation and sustainable development in countries and communities by having the knowledge and capacity to effectively prevent and address various environmental problems, including climate change.” This shows that climate change is part of the broader discussions around climate change and environmental education.
In the Environmental Education Promotion Act (2008), Article 10 deals with the promotion of ‘social environmental education.’ Social environmental education is environmental education that occurs outside of school-based environmental education and includes both children and adults. Implementation of social environmental education is the responsibility of the government. The government distributes social environmental education through the Environmental Education Center, which provides initiatives to a variety of sectors, including government, military, business, and social organizations. The content of education deals with climate change and environmental disasters.
The Republic of Korea’s 4th National Communication (2020) also discusses ‘environmental education,’ which generally incorporates ‘climate change education.’ In the document, the government states the ultimate purpose of ‘environmental education’ is to understand environmental problems based on knowledge of and experience with interactions between the ecosystem and human society.
Additionally, the National Curriculum Framework (2015) notes that through environmental education, students can develop desirable values and attitudes toward the environment, including climate change.
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Environment budget for 2021 was US$9.83 billion, of which US$108.94 million was allocated to climate change. The 2021 Ministry of Environment Budget specifically for environmental education was US$15.5 million. This supported school-based environmental education (including climate change education), established a foundation for promoting social environmental education, and distributed both school and social environmental education content.
The 3rd Masterplan of Environmental Education (2020) includes this budget plan for 2021-2025 (see Table 1). The Table includes the total budget for the Ministry of Environment’s environmental education projects, including offices, departments, subsidiaries, and affiliated organizations. All numbers are in US$ (1 USD = 1,150 KRW). To cover these budgets, the Ministry of Environment intends to formulate a strategy for implementing the Masterplan and raising funds. The Ministry has urged other government ministries, local governments, and corporations to make social contributions to climate change education in order to share the financial responsibility.
Table 1: Budget for environmental education
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Environmental Education was first introduced as a subject into the Republic of Korea’s schools with the National Curriculum Framework in 1992. Since that time, Environmental Education has been consistently taught in the country as an independent, but not compulsory subject.
The Republic of Korea’s more recent National Curriculum Frameworks are rooted in the Environmental Education Promotion Act, which aims “to contribute to environmental conservation and sustainable development in countries and communities by having the knowledge and capacity to effectively prevent and address various environmental problems, including climate change” (2008, Article 1).
The current national curriculum in the Republic of Korea is the National Curriculum Framework (2015). The grade-by-grade achievement and evaluation criteria show that the Framework includes climate change-related education, which has been included in the curriculum since 2007. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The National Curriculum Framework of Pre-Primary Education (2015) is called the ‘Nuri Curriculum’ and aims to help children aged 3 to 5 develop in harmony with their mental and physical health. In the Nuri Curriculum, climate change education is part of a unit called ‘scientific exploration.’ The curriculum for three-year-olds teaches about natural phenomena through exploring weather. The curriculum for four-year-olds encourages children to have an interest in weather and climate change. Five-year-old children learn about seasonal changes and regularities of climate, and are prompted to continue to pay attention to climate change and natural phenomena.
In the 1st and 2nd years of primary school, the National Curriculum Framework (2015) incorporates topics related to climate change education including weather and climate. Students in 5th and 6th grade Science learn the components of climate, such as clouds, air pressures, and seasonal weather. In 5th and 6th grade Social Science, students discuss climate change through the units: ‘country of our life’ and ‘countries in the world.’ In primary education, climate change education is mainly focused on cognitive learning dimensions.
In secondary education, the National Curriculum Framework (2015) provides an independent subject of Environmental Education as an optional course. Environmental Education is not a mandatory subject, and schools and teachers are given autonomy in how the subject is taught. Environmental Education is organized to help students understand the environment and respond actively to various environmental problems that arise in their daily lives. Through the class, students conduct their own projects related to environmental issues such as climate change, ecosystems, and sustainable development. Climate change is included in subjects related to society and science in the elementary school curriculum while high school includes a focus on energy.
According to the National Curriculum Information Center, climate change is also covered by some mandatory subjects, such as Science and Social Science. The National Curriculum Framework for the 7th to 9th grade Science includes the greenhouse effect and global warming in its achievement and evaluation criteria. Social Science for the 7th to 9th grades also addresses climate classifications, sustainable environments, and environmental issues. In 10th grade Science, the unit ‘development and renewable energy’ covers climate change topics. Therefore, climate change content targets primarily the cognitive learning dimension.
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) also includes a special education curriculum. Some climate change-related topics are included in primary special education, such as seasonal aspects of life, weather, and climate. Students in secondary special education learn more specifically about climate change, such as temperature changes, seasonal weather characteristics, and atmospheric pressure. Those topics are taught in both the Science and Social Science subjects.
Recently, the Ministry of Education announced the Green Smart Future School Project, one of the Korean New Deal targets (Framework on The Republic of Korean New Deal, 2020; Education Sector Plan, 2021). According to the announcement, the government will invest in building low-carbon, net-zero energy schools. The Ministry plans to expand its education infrastructure to implement low-carbon and eco-friendly learning based on sustainability.
The Climate Information Portal, published by the Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change produces information material for schools. They also produce specific syllabi for 1st to 6th grade about climate change adaptation.
In the Republic of Korea’s 4th National Communication (2020), the government addresses the need to focus on future generations by researching new learning technologies in climate change education. The document indicates the country plans to use activity-based learning, not lecture-based learning, to improve the effectiveness of climate change education. The country further reports that, “The regular curricula of elementary, middle, and high schools reflect relevant contents such as the Climate Change Convention and energy saving to implement systematic environment and energy education, and related education is also provided through the school's discretionary activities” (p. 11); however, further information about this was unavailable through the publicly available sources consulted for this review.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teacher resources
The 3rd Masterplan of Environment Education (2020) aims to reinforce teachers’ abilities to teach environmental education through provision of pre-service and in-service training for elementary, middle, and high school educators.
Teacher training in the Republic of Korea is organized by the National Education and Training Institute under the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education offers environmental education courses for in-service teachers in cooperation with public educational institutions and universities. In addition, a climate change and integrated environmental education course is available through the National Education and Training Institute. The course is based on the Sustainable Development Goals and approaches climate change in relation to different factors, such as ecological, economical, and socio-political perspectives.
In terms of training pre-service teachers, an environmental education major was launched to enable prospective teachers to conduct effective environmental education. As of 2020, Gonju University, Mokpo National University, Sunchon National University, and the Korea National University of Education offer this major. The curriculum covers climate change and includes the values, purpose, and curriculum content of the Environmental Education subject.
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education was established in 2012. It operates 50 Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Teachers' Research Associations. Among them, 25 research societies have studied and developed programs specifically devoted to energy and climate change education, with 13 programs being focused on climate change more broadly. In addition, more than 50% of schools have developed STEAM programs related to climate change. For example, a program for 6th grade entitled Guardians of Climate Change integrates climate change content into STEAM, including through teaching the importance of climate change in Social Science and having learners create a short video related to climate change actions. In Art, learners create a booklet with recycling plastics or papers.
The Teacher's Association of Climate Change Education is a voluntary research association with primary school teachers in the Gwangju and Jeollanam-do regions. The Association has developed and distributed elementary school textbooks that teach about climate change education through storytelling, and cover conditions, causes, problems, and countermeasures related to climate change.
According to the 4th National Communication, the Republic of Korea has revised its curricular and educational contents to include climate change and developed supplementary materials and teacher manuals to support teachers to undertake climate change education (2020, p. 105).
iii. Climate change in higher education
The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education has made an effort to open environmental education courses at universities nationwide and students have access to training in disciplines where individuals can develop their environmental expertise. For example, there are programs in biotechnology, bioenvironmental engineering, and marine environmental engineering.
The Graduate School of Climate Change Specialization is a Ministry of Environment designation that supports graduate schools specializing in climate change. The intention of the designation is to improve the Republic of Korea’s ability to respond to international climate change agreements and expand climate change research. Designated schools also develop and operate education programs related to climate change and support the establishment and negotiation processes of climate change agreements. To date, four universities have achieved the designation: Pusan National University, Kyunghee University, Sejong University, and Ajou University.
According to the 3rd Masterplan of Environment Education (2020), the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Education also supports environmental clubs in universities and holds eco-friendly camps. For example, the Green Campus project is a higher education project run by the Ministry of Environment and the Korea Environment Corporation to reduce greenhouse gases and foster future leaders to promote sustainable growth. The primary function of the Green Campus program is to contribute to achieving the country’s national emissions reduction goals by creating more sustainable campuses and spreading eco-friendly cultures within university communities. Students at Green Campus Universities learn about climate change and sustainable development through classes and various campus-based campaigns. In addition, the program helps students become sustainability leaders through practices such as community clean-ups. The Green Campus program also shares sustainable development awareness with local communities through activities such as ecological trails and community-linked education.
According to the 4th National Communication (NC; 2020), the Ministry of Environment aims to produce 250 highly qualified climate experts every year through the Republic of Korea’s higher education system. The NC also indicates the country’s aims to have five specialized graduate schools including on “flammable waste to energy and organic waste to energy, and practice-oriented and on-the-job training courses for employees in the industry since 2009” (p. 106). The National Communication reports that by 2017, the Ministry of Environment “produced 3,772 tailored high-quality human resources in the waste resource-to-energy field” (p. 106).
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Under Article 11 of the Environmental Education Promotion Act, the Ministry of Environment also trains instructors to conduct social environmental education outside of schools. Social education instructors offer environmental experience education programs for institutions, organizations, businesses, and religious organizations. Through Article 16 of the Act, the Ministry of Environment established the Environmental Education Center, which is responsible for developing and disseminating environmental education materials, including on climate change. The Centre also offers training and certification courses for businesses, schools, and other organizations.
The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Environment runs a training and adult learning program known as the International Environmental Policy Training on Climate Change Adaptation Policies. The 4th National Communication (2020) states that since 2009, the Ministry has operated this international environmental expert training course to cope with global issues such as climate change and international environmental regulations by training environmental leaders from Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
The Korea Environment Corporation operates courses for job seekers who majored in environment, chemical engineering, energy, industrial economy, and similar studies to reinforce their capacity to respond to climate change.
The Korea Environmental Research Institute National Climate Change Adaptation Center offers educational materials for local governments on the impacts of climate change and how to develop successful climate change response strategies.
Meanwhile, 4th National Communication (2020) reports that the Republic of Korea Energy Agency also trains energy and climate change experts through a course that teaches participants about the latest national energy policies and includes technical know-how for various fields, such as industry, buildings, and public services. The training is offered to individuals in a variety of fields including government officials, energy personnel at public institutions, and industrial energy personnel.
i. Climate change and public awareness
The Republic of Korea has increasingly implemented public awareness measures to build public consensus on tackling climate change across the country. The Ministry of Environment has worked to raise awareness by promoting climate change adaptation through media including TV programs and campaigns. Nevertheless, the Republic of Korea government acknowledges the insufficiency of these efforts and its intention to strengthen the mainstreaming of climate change for all sectors of society is discussed in the 3rd National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2020).
The Republic of Korea has promoted Climate Change Week as a part of worldwide Earth Day awareness effort since 2009. In 2021, Climate Change Week was held under the theme ‘Restore Our Earth’ and included public broadcasts on the climate crisis and the importance of climate action; a mobile app to promote carbon neutrality and climate action targeted towards youth; a website about carbon neutrality; and a nation-wide event where over 5,000 public institutions, apartment complexes, and corporate buildings turned off their lights for 10 minutes. As part of the event, the government declared a ‘5+1 carbon policy’ to publicize five areas that citizens can most easily take action on climate.
According to the 3rd National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2020), the Ministry of Environment plans to support a climate change adaptation project to promote domestic climate change communication based on public awareness and participation.
The 4th National Communication reports a large number of campaigns, in particular targeted at energy savings, conducted by the government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For example, it mentions that the Republic of Korea:
has conducted contests and awarded prizes in continuing effort to expand the distribution of new and renewable energy, promote the new energy industry, and raise public awareness as well as induce and promote energy-saving practices through the Energy Contents Contest and New & Renewable Energy (p. 108)
Other examples mentioned in the National Communication are the Korea NGO Energy Network, the Low Carbon Green Life Action, and the Dress Cool and Dress Warm campaign.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
The Ministry of Environment oversees the production and distribution of climate change promotional materials and strives to ensure that all citizens can access environmental information.
The Korean Environment Cooperation runs the Climate Change Promotion Portal. The Portal provides domestic and foreign policy trends and up-to-date information on climate change to raise public awareness of climate change and encourage people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Portal also hosts a digital climate change magazine, which provides easy access to the government's climate change response projects. The magazine also contains information about climate change issues and provides news about severe regional climate change impacts and climate change-related events.
The Climate Change Adaptation Information Portal is operated by the Korea Environment Institute and the Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change. It is a comprehensive online platform that provides access to information related to climate change and how to adapt to climate change. The platform also facilitates access to climate change expert networks by allowing experts communicate about their ongoing projects and recent policies on climate change. The network of climate change experts includes the government, research labs, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In terms of NGOs, the Climate Change Center was established in 2008 as the first non-profit public interest organization to respond to climate change in Korea. The Centre hosts an online ‘Eco-friend Platform’ which manages companies’ environmental data disclosures.
In 2019, the Republic of Korea published a Handbook on Implementing the Paris Agreement. The purpose of the Handbook is “to help people understand how the details needed to implement the Paris Agreement were created and what the Paris Agreement contains” (2019, p. 3). The Handbook translates the Paris Agreement to allow the public to grasp the complexity of its implementation, as discussed in the 8th Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Dialogue – Asia & the Pacific (2020).
iii. Climate change and public participation
The Republic of Korea’s government has established public participation programs in response to increased public attention toward climate change. Public participation in climate change decision-making in the Republic of Korea is divided into the engagement of experts and the public. Since those two groups' participation is different, there are strategies to engage the two groups.
For example, for experts, the Climate Change Adaptation Information Portal is operated by the Ministry of Environment. On this platform, experts from the government, research labs, and non-governmental organizations can communicate their ongoing projects and recent policies on climate change.
For the public, it is important to change their way of thinking towards climate change to participate in climate change actions. Therefore, according to the 3rd Masterplan of Environment Education (2020), the government encourages the public to participate in daily climate change action. The Masterplan aims to cultivate environmental citizens who have an eco-friendly attitude and actively respond to environmental problems, including climate change. The 4th National Communication (2020) also notes that public participation in climate change is implemented as everyday life-oriented programs and campaigns to promote the participation of all citizens in initiating climate change practices.
In 2018, the Republic of Korea participated in the Talanoa Dialogue, and also hosted a domestic Talanoa Dialogue in the same year. It invited stakeholders from different backgrounds, such as academia, civil society, and youth, and used the collected views to inform in its 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions.
According to the 4th National Communication (2020), public participation is enhanced through the adoption of the 1st Climate Change Response Master Plan, a new document that was not yet available publicly at the time of this review.
i. Country monitoring
Currently, climate change monitoring in the Republic of Korea is conducted by the Korean Meteorological Administration. Monitoring data predicting climate change impacts is available to policymakers.
The Ministry of Environment conducted the National Awareness Survey on Climate Change in 2007. It monitored climate change awareness and behavior among people in Korea aged 19 and older. According to the survey, 97% of people were aware of climate change caused by global warming. However, only 10% of respondents knew detailed information about climate change such as the causes of climate change.
Gallup Korea conducted a Climate Change and Sustainability Survey in 2020, which used the same questions as the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research. A total of 1,500 people over 19 years of age participated in interviews exploring climate change awareness. The survey respondents were aware of and concerned about climate change, and were also pessimistic about the possibility of curtailing climate change.
The Republic of Korea participates in international standardized learning assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which collects data relevant to global citizenship, including environment and sustainability education. According to the PISA 2018 Global Competence Study, students from the Republic of Korea are above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average regarding their willingness to take action for collective well-being and sustainable development.
According to the 3rd National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2020), climate change monitoring and evaluation in the Republic of Korea will include both citizen-participatory monitoring and national level monitoring. The Plan outlines the government’s intentions to operate a biodiversity monitoring network that involves the public in climate change monitoring. The document also announces the government's intention to create a monitoring system to which the public may contribute.
In the Republic of Korea, the institutional and policy foundation for tracking progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Ministry of Education reports on SDG 4.7 (sustainability education) and SDG 13.3 (climate change education) according to the SDGs in the Republic of Korea: Progress Report 2021. However, no data for SDG 4.7 and SDG 13.3 were available at the time of the review.
According to the 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions, as of 2020 the Republic of Korea operates a “government-wide scientific and quantitative system for implementation” (p. 4) to assess the objectives of the Contribution. The document indicates that results will be released to the public.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined the National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2015) and Education Sector Plan (ESP; 2021) for references to climate change, sustainability, biodiversity, and the environment. Both documents include several themes related to climate change education and communication; however, both also specify that students learn about climate change mostly within the Environmental Education subject.
The National Curriculum Framework (NCF; 2015) referenced ‘climate change’ twice, the ‘environment’ 4 times, ‘sustainability’ 0 times, and ‘biodiversity’ 4 times. The Education Sector Plan (ESP; 2021) does not mention ‘climate change’, but has 22 references to ‘environment’, 1 to ‘sustainability’ and 4 for ‘biodiversity’.
Therefore, there is a greater focus on the general ‘environment’ in the NCF and ESP, with 26 references in total. ‘Biodiversity’ is referenced 8 times, ‘climate change’ is referenced 2 times and ‘sustainability’ is referenced once.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.