|Frank Rijsberman/Courtesy of GGGI|
Frank Rijsberman, 62, director- general of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), proudly calls himself a sustainable development practitioner.
Based in Seoul, the GGGI is an international organization committed to strengthening green growth strategies of developing countries using the model of Korea.
His current job gives him an opportunity to help member countries, mostly developing countries, come up with ways to turn their economies to more sustainable paths.
For example in Thailand, his organization is helping a local city recycle e-waste from appliances and mobile devices. In Cambodia, his organization worked to help the government generate cleaner energy, instead of building a coal-fired power plant.
Previously, he developed a strategy to give people in India access to toilets while working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation between 2010 and 2012. He also worked for the International Agricultural Research Consortium, an organization dedicated to giving people equal access to decent food and getting them out of poverty.
At Google, his work was related to improving public health and adapting to climate change. He also headed the International Water Management Institute.
"These are my passions," he said during a recent interview with The Korea Times.
A Dutch native, the secretary general earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a doctorate in water resources management and planning.
His professional engagement in sustainable development also changed his approach to life.
He stopped eating meat. It began as a way to support his wife who is a longtime vegetarian and for health reasons, but it also has an environmental impact.
Growing meat carries a big carbon footprint, as animals consume a large quantity of food and emit greenhouse gas.
He also tries to use public transportation in Seoul as much as he can. In fact, he hailed Seoul's public transportation. "It is a great system."
But he hopes something can be done about air pollution.
"My wife is very unhappy about air pollution. And she wants me to do something about this here. (She asks me) what have you done about air pollution here? We do all this stuff for Africa, and she says to do something about air pollution here," he said with laugh.
He notes air pollution is a pan-Asian phenomenon, seen from Mongolia to Korea to Vietnam and says it can be solved with energy transition.
He said he is disappointed with what's happening in Korea. "Korea has not been so fast in its own energy transition. Slow rather than fast. There are many other good examples Korean can learn from."