The man now in charge at the IPCC belongs to a privileged, protected, secretive entity headed by the UN’s former top climate official.
When Hoesung Lee was elected head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently, the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) issued a celebratory press release. Lee – who hails from South Korea – has a seat on one of the GGGI’s governing bodies.
But this little-known entity is no mere institute. In fact, it’s another creature of the United Nations. As a headline on the GGGI website makes clear, an international treaty was required to bring it into existence. Membership is restricted to UN-recognized countries. Its stated purpose is “the successful outcome of the United Nations process on sustainable development.” Its Director-General, Yvo de Boer, used to be the UN’s top climate official.
GGGI appears to have begun life in 2010 as a bona fide South Korean non-profit foundation, before throwing itself into the arms of the UN two years later. Documents connected to its 2012 transformation can be downloaded from its website (see this 33-page PDF). The GGGI immodestly claims to be devising “a new model of economic growth,” which it considers “essential for the future of humankind.” Some of the planet’s least developed nations have signed up to act as guinea pigs for projects administered by the GGGI and funded by Australian, Danish, Norwegian, and British taxpayers.
There are plenty of good people working on important issues, some of whom are employed by research institutes. But when it comes to perqs and privileges, the GGGI leaves everyone
them in the dust. Calling the GGGI an institute is like calling Unilever – the multinational corporation that owns the Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Bertolli, Hellman’s, Becell, Knorr, and Dove brands – a soap company.
In actual fact, the GGGI enjoys a preposterous array of protections and immunities. We’re talking about the kinds of privileges normally reserved for nation states. Korea’s government has signed a document in which it has agreed to treat GGGI headquarters like an embassy. Korean authorities have no jurisdiction on its premises or over its records: