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Lake Sihwa Water Quality Improvement Project

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
6. Water and sustainable growth
Author(s): Kyung Jin Min
Thaesun Shin
Woojin Song
Seungho lee
Dogan Altinbilek

Kyung Jin Min
Thaesun Shin
Woojin Song
Seungho lee
Graduate School of International Studies, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Dogan Altinbilek
World Water Council, Marseille, France

Keyword(s): Green Growth, Water and Green Growth, Green Economy, Sustainable Development, Institutional Economics

While the Green paradigm is being expanded all over the world as a new pathway advocating the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Korea has already implemented many Water and Green Growth policies. ‘Lake Sihwa Water Quality Improvement Project’ is one of the most representative cases that demonstrates the role and importance of water management and is an example of decoupling economic development and environmental degradation. 
The case has identified how important policy mix and institutional innovation are suitable for addressing social issues including politics, the economy, society, culture, history and the sustainability of the natural environment while balancing the development of economic, social and environmental aspects. In the early stage of Korea’s economic development, a " growth first clean-up later perspective" was widespread. Later, the nation faced environmental issues due to its economy-focused development policies.
When the Sihwa District was in the period of development, economic growth was the top priority at the national level. Due to indiscriminate development (Not considering environmental issues), water pollution of the area became a national issue and extensive efforts have been made to address the issues.
In the scientific dimension of the project, seawater circulation has been improved by using tidal power generation. Korea's technological capacity was one of important success factors for adopting tidal power in this area. Hence, it became a saltwater lake producing clean energy from tidal power plants. Secondly, adequate design of artificial wetlands is utilized for Water Improvement Policy. By analyzing pollutants and flows of water, it was possible to design the wetlands to have a proper purifying function in each section. Afterwards, continuously performance analysis allowed the environmentally-friendly treatment facility to be sustainable utilized.
In terms of policy efforts, the Korean Government organized the Sihwa District Sustainable development Council, a public council comprising the central government, local government, civic groups, professionals and local residents. Since then, the Comprehensive Long-term Development Project has implemented the outlook for its support from the various stakeholders. To make this project a success, the Council has enlisted the active participation of concerned stakeholders from the planning phase through the development phase. 
After the project was implemented, water quality drastically improved and biodiversity significantly increased. It help to revive the local economy as well as increase the regional employment rate. Moreover, water quality improved, bads odors were eliminated, and local residents’ quality of life significantly improved as Lake Sihwa became a place of leisure and ecological learning.
Lessons learned from the project include:
- For Green Growth and Sustainable development, it is important not only technical innovation but also government’s institutional innovation. 
- Through Green Growth, we can achieve economic and social growth as well as reduce environmental cost at once.


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