Korea University and International ESG Association (IESGA) Host a Special Meeting About the Sustainable Biochar Market

Highlights from the special meeting with the Korean government led by Professor Yong Sik Ok and Professor Jay Hyuk Rhee

SEOUL, Sept. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Korea recently witnessed a significant meeting aimed at fostering a strong and sustainable biochar market. The Association of Pacific Rim Universities Sustainable Waste Management Program (APRU SWM), the International Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Association (IESGA), and the Korea University ESG Research Institute recently collaborated with the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) for a special meeting that brought together experts from academia, industry, and government.

The proceedings of the meeting were overseen by Prof. Yong Sik Ok, a distinguished Highly Cited Researcher and full professor at Korea University, serving concurrently as chair and program director of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities Sustainable Waste Management Program (APRU SWM) and holding the esteemed position of the president of the International Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Association (IESGA). Accompanying him was Prof. Jay Hyuk Rhee, director of the Korea University ESG Research Institute and also the president of IESGA. The focal point of the meeting was centered on the theme, “Journey Toward a Sustainable Biochar Market across Korea.

The distinguished participants of the meeting included Prof. Scott Chang from the University of Alberta, Canada; Prof. Ondrej Masek from the University of Edinburgh, UK; and Prof. Stephen Joseph from the University of New South Wales, Australia, Prof. Lukas Van Zwieten from New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Australia, Prof. Shinjiro Sato from Soka University, Japan; and Dr. Janelle Jung from Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. This event also saw active involvement from key representatives of Korean corporations, including CJ CheilJedang, Shinsegae Food, Nongwoo Bio, Wonjin Group, and Platform Partners.

Deputy Minister Mr. Beom Su Park spoke about how MAFRA identifies biochar as an ideal technology for achieving carbon neutrality in Korea. Under the government action plan, MAFRA has been conducting research in collaboration with research institutes and industries concerning the sustainable biochar market, especially in converting livestock manure into biochar. MAFRA also implements finance- and policy-based actions to create infrastructure for a sustainable livestock manure-based biochar market.

Biochar plays a vital role in the carbon removal strategies of major corporations. During the meeting, experts discussed best practices for high-quality biochar and future steps toward commercialization. Dr. Kevin Kung, co-founder of the Canadian startup Takachar, stressed the significance of the biochar production plant’s size. Professor Rhee, a Business Administration expert, emphasized the powerful synergy between integrating ESG principles into business strategies using biochar technology for sustainability.

Biochar integration cultivates a holistic ESG-driven path, benefiting both the environment and communities. Prof. Daniel Alessi from the University of Alberta, Canada, appreciated Korea’s efforts regarding biochar; he noted, “Korea is the first nation to develop a national plan for converting animal manure into biochar and creating a commercial biochar market.” Many experts also discussed the need for exploring other possible environmental applications of biochar besides using it in soils as an organic amendment. Amasha Withana, the secretary of the APRU SWM program at the meeting, said, “The collaboration between industries and academic institutes and receiving financial support from the government is mandatory to create a sustainable biochar market.”

Finally, the meeting emphasized that creating biochar standards will involve collaboration with various stakeholders. MAFRA will work with international governments, academic institutions, and industries to conduct research, develop eco-friendly biochar production technologies, and gather feedback for a sustainable biochar market in Korea.

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Yong Sik Ok


SOURCE Korea University