The environment without natural resources, so the brain and human resources are the biggest assets of the country, the Czech Republic is unexpectedly similar to our country. The Czech Republic, which is particularly impressive at night, is also one of the favorite destinations for Koreans. Future Eco was heard from the Czech Ambassador to Korea on the environmental issues and welfare of the Czech Republic in the heart of Europe.
1. The Czech Republic is a popular destination for Koreans. What do you think attracts Koreans to visit the Czech Republic?
The Czech Lands have been at the crossroads of Europe for thousands of years. Czech Republic is a small country endowed with abundant natural beauty and many historical and cultural sites.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It escaped the destruction of war and built on its natural beauty with great architecture. A walk through the city will surprise you with its unique blend of architectural styles. Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau and even Functionalism all live happily together in Prague.
Surrounded along its borders by mountains, the countryside is dotted with charming towns, and the most castles and chateaux per square mile of any country in the world!
Twelve Czech towns are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The village of Holasovice is listed for its remarkable traditional rural architecture.
We should not forget famous Czech products, like glass, cosmetics and best beer in the world.
2. Recently, the OECD pointed out that the Czech Republic's carbon intensity and exposure to air pollution, which is among the top member countries, are pending issues. This is one of the biggest environmental issues in Korea. What approach does the Czech Republic take for this challenge?
Greenhouse gas emissions in the Czech Republic have dropped significantly over the past 30 years. In 2014, they were 36.7 percent lower than those recorded in 1990 – and over the same time period, emissions across the 28 member countries of the European Union only fell by around 19 percent.
Personal transport makes up for a sizable amount of these emissions, thanks in no small part to the fact that the amount of private motor vehicles and road freight have increased since 1990. The government’s strategies for reducing this impact is based around alternative fuels as well as reducing the amount of road freight in favor of transport by rail.
The country’s industry makes up 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the Czech Republic. To address this, the government has implemented the State Environmental Policy of the Czech Republic 2012–2020, which seeks to improve energy management through audits among other measures.
3. Climate and atmospheric problems are closely linked to energy composition. What is the energy system in the Czech Republic and what is its future direction?
Energy mix of the Czech Republic is similar to energy mix of Republic of Korea. Energy production is mainly based on fossil fuels, notably coal with a 51 percent share of the energy mix. Nuclear energy accounts for 32 percent of energy generation. The renewable (solar, wind, biomass) energy share is increasing and has reached 13.5 percent of the total market. Our country is planning to build new Nuclear Reactors to cover increasing energy demand and is on track to achieve the national renewable energy sources (RES) target of 20 percent by 2020.
4. European Member States, which are leading the way in addressing environmental issues, are also not free from transboundary pollution, nuclear risks, and climate change - a global issue. Therefore, the need for environmental cooperation among countries is growing. What do you think is the environmental field in which the Czech Republic and Korea can cooperate?
Our countries can cooperate on the issue of decreasing risks stemming from Nuclear power plants. There is possibility for sharing knowhow in the field of pollution decreasing from existing coal power plants, where especially fine dust is creating essential problem in both countries. Climate change is a global issue and the field where we are finding common opinions and common values.
5. The OECD highly valued Czech public transport investments. If there is a policy that can be introduced to Korea, please introduce it.
The Czech Republic has one of the most dense railway networks in Europe and a sophisticated system of bus transportation. Both trains and buses are reliable. There is a comprehensive system for looking up departures of trains and buses all around the Czech Republic, which is to be found on internet.
Public transport is frequent, punctual, clean and safe. The different types of transport are very well integrated. Everything is logically laid out and clearly signed making the system very easy to understand. On-board displays and announcements on metro trains, trams and buses make missing a required stop very unlikely. Some unfrequented stops on trams and buses are “request stops”, so you have to look for that on the information displays and in the announcements.
Anyhow public transportation in Korea is at the same level and there is no need “to learn” from the Czech experience.
6. Like the Republic of Korea, the Czech Republic, which lacks natural resources, is highly dependent on its human brain and exports. The current education affects the future of the country. In Korea, where environmental issue has become one of the nation's biggest issues, awareness of environmental education is rising. I would like to know about environmental education and policy in the Czech Republic.
Environmental education in the Czech Republic is guided by the National Environmental Education Program passed by the Czech government. It is also a cross-subject theme within the national curricula for primary and secondary schools. Environmental educators can engage in professional development opportunities through nongovernmental EE organizations, and can receive an official qualification degree. Environmental education centers in the Czech Republic can become members of Network of Environmental Education Centres Pavučina, a national NGO EE association with over 45 member organizations. Within the national government, the Unit of Voluntary Instruments and Cooperation with NGOs at the Ministry of the Environment takes a lead role in coordinating environmental education at a national level. Funding for EE comes from a variety of sources, including the national government, international NGOs, county and city administrations, foundations, business corporate social responsibility programs, and individuals.
7. A flexible workplace culture and good childcare environment in the Czech Republic are often introduced in Korea. The reason why Korean women have low fertility rate is not only poor childbirth and childcare environment but also environmental problems. What about the reality of Czech women?
Czech Republic has generous system of support for families, when child is born. Female employees are entitled to 28 weeks paid maternity leave beginning six to eight weeks prior to birth, during which time mothers should receive about 70 percent of their previous salary. However, fathers may take over the leave, by written agreement, seven weeks after childbirth. Women with twins are entitled to 37 weeks of support.
Next come paid parental leave which is financial support for parents, if they are caring for child at home (not taking him/her to a daycare/ nursery/pre-school). Paid parental leave consists of a lump sum which is about of a value of yearly average salary in the Czech Republic and must be taken during the first four years of the child’s life; the shortest period over which it may be taken is 19 months. The length of this period is decided by parents and after this period employer is obliged to return mother to the same position, which she held before.
Flexible workplace culture in the Czech Republic is increasing; especially flexible working hours are gaining popularity. Shorter working hours are not very popular, because employers are sometimes demanding the same output as with full time employees. That is why only 5% of Czech employees are working shorter hours.
8. The Czech embassy in Korea seems to have a great interest in the field of culture and arts. Future Eco is also a media that is interested in spreading cultural consciousness through the combination of environment and arts. I think culture and arts are necessary in all areas as well as the environment. If there are culture and arts that Koreans can feel the Czech Republic in Korea, please introduce them.
There is wide cultural exchange between our countries . For example during last six months, there were number of concerts of Czech Philharmonics and other two Czech orchestras. There is a number of Czech exhibitions and art performance not only in Seoul. Cultural and art exchange is as well organized by Czech Cultural Centre Soul, which was established on February 1, 2013 as 22nd centre in the organization of Czech Canters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 4th center outside of Europe. The Czech Centre Seoul represents 5th European cultural institute (after institutes of Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy) in the Republic of Korea. You can find interesting information and their program in Korean at internet pages “www.seoul.czechcentres.cz”.
Anyhow, we should mention that there was more than 400.000 Korean tourist visiting Czech Republic last year. And you can find interesting information in the pages of CzechTourism Agency Seoul at “www. czechtourism.cz/ko” as well in Korean language.
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