Korea: Status & Outlook

Korea & Sustainable Competitiveness

Top in Innovation, bottom in resource management

Korea is ranked on the 41st position of the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2016. The breakdown of results shows a very mixed picture: Korea is the global Number One in terms of Intellectual Capital (the basis for Innovation) – but at the same time, the last of 180 nations in terms of resource efficiency. A very mixed bag.

This report is divided in two parts. Part one analysis Korea’s current status of competitiveness, while part two develops potential policies to ensure Korea’s sustainable competitiveness going forward.

The Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index (GSCI) is based on 109 quantitative performance indicators, analysed for current performance and recent trends to anticipate the future performance. Korea currently ranks #40 of 180 nations in the GSCI, scoring only 5% above average, but more than 25% below the best. Korea’s performance in this index is mixed: while Korea achieved the highest score globally in intellectual capital, it also scores lowest globally in resource intensity.

Korea’s performance and key deficits in each sustainable competitiveness dimension are:

  • Natural capital, rank 154: Korea is a comparable small country considering the size of the population, with a limited area of arable land – and no significant mineral resources to speak off. The high water withdrawal rate is a source of concern – potential water scarcity and efficiency are issues that need to be looked at urgently.
  • Resource intensity, rank 180 of 180: Korea has a higher share of manufacturing and energy-intensive industries than most other countries. However – Korea uses significantly more energy, water, and raw materials than other economies to generate economic output. High resource intensity is equal to higher cost for the economy, and urgently needs to be addressed – especially given Korea’s dependence on import of virtually all commodities and fossil energy.
  • Intellectual capital, rank 1: Korea is doing well in the key area of innovation-driven competitiveness: education and R&D. However – maybe the country could benefit from a shift in focus from higher education to a more skills-based education system.
  • Governance, rank 19: investments are at a high level and the infrastructure is modern. However, weak governance, and falling press freedom (from rank 31 to 70 in the last 10 years) are of concern
  • Social capital, rank 65: while health care availability is guaranteed, the highest suicide rate in the World indicates some systemic social problems.

Download the Press Release -
Korea GSCI Press Release

Download the full report -
Korea & Sustainable Competitiveness: Status & Outlook

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