Tour of the “Souths”: Korea and Carolina Sustainability Quests

My lack of posting here is the result of travels the past few weeks.

First, I went to South Korea, where the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability invited me to speak at its opening conference, “New Vision and Strategies of Research Institutes for Sustainable Development.”

Just yesterday I returned from Charleston, South Carolina, where I spoke as part of series of sustainability talks put together by Eve Blossom, founder of Lulan Artisans in Charleston. Eve, a diplomat and networker par excellence, guided me to meetings with longtime (32 years!!) Mayor Joe Riley, the Charleston Green Commitee, the Executive Directors of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and Sustainable Charleston, and others.



The South Korean event, held at Seoul National University was put together by Professor Ki-Ho Kim, of Seoul National’s Graduate School of Environmental Studies. The Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (AIEES) is launching a cross-discipline research and applied research body that will draw upon urban design, engineering, forestry, arhcitecture, environmental studies and materials sciences.

The approach of AIEES is to to collaborate with other universities (the Yale School of Forestry and Seoul National inked an agreement while I was there), business (we had dinner with the CEO of Samsung), government (South Korea’s Environmental Minister attended, as did the planning director for Boston, Kairos Shen) and NGOs (a Chinese NGO was represented by a Peking University professor). 

In Charleston, that city has been kicking around sustainability in multi-stakeholder committees for the past year. My presentation showed how cities can be benchmarked according to sustainability indicators, which can then help prioritize where to begin taking action.

I recommended transit-oriented smart growth and reduced dependence on coal power as the two focal points for sustainability planning, and gave a few best practices and management approaches as to how this might be accomplished.

In any case, Charlestonians were in fine form–curious, intelligent, practical and enjoyable to visit with. I look forward to heading back there, either as a sustainability facilitator or as a tourist. The “City of Manners” is a fine showcase of antebellum architecture, all accessible over bluestone-paved sidewalks in a gorgeous bayside setting.