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Davos 2023: Special Address by Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea

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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea, speaks at Davos 2023.
  • He calls for bolstering energy security and reducing reliance on fossil fuels via nuclear power and clean hydrogen, and commits to helping secure the stability of global supply chains.
  • Read the special address in full here.

Honorable participants and distinguished guests,

First, I would like to thank Chairman Schwab for organizing today’s event.

It is my honor to be here with you at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which boasts a more than half-a-century history since its original founding as the European Management Forum in 1971.

Davos Forum has been contributing to empowering citizens around the world to enjoy greater freedom and building global peace and prosperity by serving as a venue for in-depth discussions on global agenda.

It is truly meaningful for me to have an opportunity to be here with you today and seek ways for us to cooperate to overcome the numerous challenges we are facing.

The world is under the pressure of economic uncertainty and the polycrisis.

The pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, the rivalry for technological hegemony, and the weakening multilateral trade system have led to the fragmentation of the global supply chain, causing it to reshape. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated supply chain disruptions.

Supply shocks have occurred in various sectors, ranging from vaccines and pharmaceuticals to semiconductor and critical minerals that are the industrial backbones and to food and energy resources which are the necessities for humanity. Supply shocks in these sectors have spilled over to the broader economy.

During such reshaping of the global supply chain, cooperation between countries in the realms of security, economy, and advanced technologies has been increasingly regarded as a package deal, giving rise to the trend of bloc-forming among countries.

The crisis brought by climate change and the health and digital divides are threatening the freedom of citizens worldwide and the international community’s peace and prosperity.

The way to overcome these challenges is for us to strengthen cooperation and unite in solidarity.

As the boundaries between security, economy, and cutting-edge scientific technologies are blurring, we not only need cooperation between businesses in the form of B2B cooperation but also urgently need systems for G2G or G2B cooperation, through which each nation’s government and businesses in its private sector actively cooperate with one another.

Even in the current global economic landscape marked by fragmentation, the free trade system, which has contributed to global economic growth and enhanced humanity’s freedom, remains a global public good that can never be forsaken.

Building up walls and intensifying protectionism cannot be the right answer.

To be sure, the process of globalization has shed light on the problems of the financialization of the real economy and polarization. Even so, we must make efforts to rectify these issues and respect the free trade system based on multilateralism.

By allowing the free flow of products, capital, knowledge, and information across borders, ensuring diversity, and expanding connectivity, we should expand our small bloc to form a larger bloc.

During the U.N. General Assembly last October, I stressed in my speech that the first step in our journey to overcome the crisis and seek answers in this ‘watershed moment’ is to respect the universal global norms and UN system and to unite in solidarity.

The current situation characterized by bloc-forming also calls for the global economic order’s return to the free trade system based on the universal norms and the international community’s strengthened solidarity and cooperation.

When our commitment to contributing to empowering global citizens to enjoy greater freedom and building the international community’s prosperity translates into specific actions, we can indeed tackle the pressing challenges ahead of us.

Here at Davos, I would like to call for strengthening the global supply chain’s resilience for sustainable economic prosperity, a transition to a low-carbon economy aimed at aptly responding to the climate crisis and ensuring energy security, bolstering global cooperation to bridge the gaps in responding to health threats, and lastly, establishing a digital order contributing to freedom and prosperity for all.

The most urgent task of our time is to strengthen the supply chain’s resilience based on reciprocal solidarity.

Making the global supply chain more resilient is also a task to be pursued in the spirit of freedom and solidarity.

By forging robust solidarity among nations, we must establish a resilient supply chain and pursue the coexistence of citizens worldwide.

The Republic of Korea, which boasts the world’s top-notch production technologies and manufacturing capabilities in semiconductor, rechargeable batteries, steelmaking, and biotechnology, will be a key partner in the global supply chain.

We will align and cooperate with mutually trusted countries in full compliance with the universal rules in order to secure the global supply chain’s stability.


Meanwhile, the Korean government’s recently announced Indo-Pacific strategy encapsulates our will to work with and innovate with nations that uphold the values of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

We will contribute to prosperity for all humankind by developing economic and technological ecosystems marked by cooperation and inclusiveness.

Tackling the climate crisis is another task of great importance for all of us.

Overcoming the climate crisis has become a common agenda for all nations on Earth, and major economies are working to achieve their net-zero targets.

Although energy security is emerging as an urgent agenda to address, energy transition and energy security are not mutually exclusive goals.

As a key means to bolster our energy security while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we must turn our attention to nuclear power and clean hydrogen.

Nuclear power plants enable a stable electricity supply while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Korean government has already unveiled the plan to systemically pursue the carbon neutrality target by expanding the share of nuclear power in our energy mix, thereby bolstering our energy security.

The Republic of Korea has world-class technological prowess in nuclear power generation as well as outstanding nuclear power plant construction and operation capabilities and is willing to work with nations that need to tap into nuclear power technology to achieve their carbon neutrality goals.

Clean hydrogen is now receiving attention as a game changer for future energy.

In hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, chemical and shipping industries, hydrogen can be a solution that plays a key role in achieving the goal of carbon neutrality.

To this end, the Middle East and Europe that have great potential for green hydrogen production and the countries with advanced technologies in utilizing hydrogen such as Korea and Japan need to cooperate with each other.

I hope that the international community can closely communicate with each other to design the clean hydrogen certification scheme and establish the standards and incentive policies on the production, utilization and distribution of hydrogen in the future.

Through Green ODA, the Republic of Korea will further reduce the technological and financial gaps between countries and help developing countries adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Korea will continue to make efforts to share its innovative green technologies with all humanity.

Honorable global leaders,

The gap in the health system between countries poses a threat not only to individual’s freedom but also to sustainable prosperity of the international community.

Korea has pledged to share its experiences and achievements in response to health crisis and join the international effort to bridge the gap in pandemic response capabilities between countries.

In particular, we will secure financing for the prevention of and response to pandemic while nurturing workforce in the biotechnology sector to boost vaccine production capacity. Korea will also take the lead in cooperating with other countries to respond to new infectious diseases in the future.

The international community must work together to further develop vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics and other measures against infectious diseases and ensure equal access to them for global citizens.

The same is true for the digital divide.

In this era of great digital transformation, the digital divide is emerging as a new challenge.

In response to such challenge, we need to build a global digital order so that digital technologies can help global citizens expand their freedom.

The Korean government is to create the Digital Bill of Rights in Korea, which can contribute to the establishment of a global digital order.

The Digital Bill of Rights in Korea will define the right to enjoy digital technologies as a universal right of humanity, and propose the basic principles to resolve novel issues that may arise in an era of great digital transformation.

The government of the Republic of Korea aims to create a digital platform government that marries government-owned data and private sector’s services.

Based on the private sector’s creative ideas as well as innovative technologies in AI, cloud computing, information processing and network, we will radically upgrade administrative services, which will conduce to building an effective social safety net.

As a leading country in digital technology, Korea has shared its digital government experiences with developing countries and actively promoted digital ODA.

We will continue to make efforts to share and disseminate digital technologies and our experiences in the future.

Honorable Chairman Schwab and global leaders,

the structural problems the world is currently grappling with cannot be resolved without cooperation and solidarity.

Our modern history has proven to us that an unwavering spirit of solidarity to protect and expand freedom is the most powerful force to overcome a crisis.

The responsibility to present a better future to the next generation,

the responsibility to expand freedom of global citizens,

and the responsibility to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity

are calling for our stronger solidarity and solidarity in action.

I hope the wisdom we share at this year’s forum will serve as valuable resources to protect and expand the freedom and prosperity of global citizens.

Thank you.

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