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Analysis of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research Trends from the ESG Perspective in South Korea

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Analysis of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research Trends from the ESG Perspective in South Korea

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Government-level ESG (environmental, social, and governance) institutionalization and active ESG activation in the private sector are being discussed for the first time this year in Korea, spurred by increased national interest since the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the declaration of a carbon-neutral society by 2050, and ESG discussion in many fields is spreading rapidly. In addition, global awareness of the crisis caused by environmental pollution and natural disasters has highlighted the importance of green infrastructure (GI) as a new conceptual alternative to improve public value. Based on sustainability, which is a common goal of ESG and green infrastructure, this study aimed to examine the research targets and techniques of green infrastructure from the perspective of ESG. This study selected and analyzed 98 domestic and international academic journal papers published over the past 10 years in the Web of Science academic journal database literature collection. Focusing on the research subjects, the focus on green infrastructure, and research keywords, we examined the aspects of the green infrastructure plan that have been focused on from the ESG perspective and compared domestic and international research trends. In addition, implications for how each research topic is connected to the concept of ESG according to its function and purpose were derived. By examining the domestic and international research trends of green infrastructure from the ESG perspective, we identified the need for a wider range of research on the diversity and relationship between humans and the ecological environment; policies and systems; and technical research that does not focus only on a specific field. In this regard, we intend to increase the contribution to ESG management in the public sector through the establishment of green infrastructure plans and policies in the future, as they account for a large portion of public capital.
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Citation: Lee, E.; Kim, G. Analysis of
Domestic and International Green
Infrastructure Research Trends from
the ESG Perspective in South Korea.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,
19, 7099. https://doi.org/
10.3390/ijerph19127099
Academic Editors:
Agnieszka Dawidowicz,
Marta Figurska and Anna Klimach
Received: 29 April 2022
Accepted: 8 June 2022
Published: 9 June 2022
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4.0/).
International Journal of
Environmental Research
and Public Health
Article
Analysis of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure
Research Trends from the ESG Perspective in South Korea
Eunjoung Lee and Gunwoo Kim *
Graduate School of Urban Studies, Hanyang University, 222 Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04763, Korea;
cocomo16@hanyang.ac.kr
*Correspondence: gwkim1@hanyang.ac.kr; Tel.: +82-2-2220-0274
Abstract:
Government-level ESG (environmental, social, and governance) institutionalization and
active ESG activation in the private sector are being discussed for the first time this year in Korea,
spurred by increased national interest since the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and the declaration of a
carbon-neutral society by 2050, and ESG discussion in many fields is spreading rapidly. In addition,
global awareness of the crisis caused by environmental pollution and natural disasters has highlighted
the importance of green infrastructure (GI) as a new conceptual alternative to improve public value.
Based on sustainability, which is a common goal of ESG and green infrastructure, this study aimed
to examine the research targets and techniques of green infrastructure from the perspective of ESG.
This study selected and analyzed 98 domestic and international academic journal papers published
over the past 10 years in the Web of Science academic journal database literature collection. Focusing
on the research subjects, the focus on green infrastructure, and research keywords, we examined
the aspects of the green infrastructure plan that have been focused on from the ESG perspective
and compared domestic and international research trends. In addition, implications for how each
research topic is connected to the concept of ESG according to its function and purpose were derived.
By examining the domestic and international research trends of green infrastructure from the ESG
perspective, we identified the need for a wider range of research on the diversity and relationship
between humans and the ecological environment; policies and systems; and technical research that
does not focus only on a specific field. In this regard, we intend to increase the contribution to ESG
management in the public sector through the establishment of green infrastructure plans and policies
in the future, as they account for a large portion of public capital.
Keywords: ESG; green infrastructure; sustainability; systematic review
1. Introduction
ESG stands for “environment, social, and governance,” which are used as factors to
judge a company’s non-financial performance, which is linked to corporate ethical or social
responsibility investment [
1
,
2
], and this concept was presented in the UN Global Compact
as a strategy for sustainable development.
Discussions on sustainability began in the 1990s, when the United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, adopted Agenda 21,
a plan for international cooperation for sustainable development. At this time, the world’s
three major environmental conventions, the Convention on Climate Change, the Conven-
tion against Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, which are the basis
of the environmental factors of ESG, were newly established.
Subsequently, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) presented by the UN at
the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit were included in the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development as the 17 core sustainable development goals of the UN [3].
The 17 goals for sustainable development are ending poverty, ending hunger, health
and welfare, education, gender equality, clean water hygiene, decent and clean energy,
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19127099 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 2 of 18
decent jobs and economic growth, industry and innovation and infrastructure, reducing
inequality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production,
climate action, underwater ecosystems, peace and justice, and partnerships [4].
When the foundation of ESG was being laid, in 2011, Porter and Kreamer created
the concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV), which seeks both social problem solving and
economic value. It is a concept that suggests companies, consumers, and society should
pursue shared values and form a complementary relationship through strategic social
marketing beyond CSR [5].
ESG is an investment philosophy that pursues long-term value growth as the value of
sustainable and harmonious development, considering the benefits of economic, environ-
mental, social, and governance emphases [6].
The concept of ESG was first used in December 2004 in a report jointly produced by
the United Nations and the Swiss Foreign Ministry, and details of environmental, social,
and governance issues in “Who cars wins” are shown in Table 1[
7
]. This is a concept
applied to the corporate and investment sectors, but it is okay to apply it to the national,
central, and urban governments with respect to ESG sector at this point in time [7].
Table 1. ESG itemized initial concepts.
Category Detail Item Key Points
Environment
issues
Risks associated with climate change;
Efforts to reduce environmental pollution and
waste;
Strengthen environmental regulations on products
and services;
Risk of reputation of civil society for performance,
transparency, and responsible management;
Responding to new markets for environmental
services and green products.
Performance,
Transparency,
Accountability
Social
issues
Workplace safety and health;
Local communities and relationships;
Respect human rights in contracts with suppliers
and partners;
Government and local community relationships in
developing countries;
Risk of reputation of civil society for performance,
transparency, and responsible management.
Community
relations
Governance
issues
Board structure and accountability;
Accounting transparency;
Structure of audit committee and independence of
audit;
Managerial compensation;
Management of corruption and bribery.
Transparency
management
Source: UNGC (UN Global Compact) and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, (2004:12).
As the concept of ESG becomes increasingly mainstream, ESG is widely considered,
practiced, and popularized in the field of practical uses [
6
], and the areas involved in ESG
are increasingly becoming more important.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable and inclusive development has once
again become a hot topic of discussion worldwide, and in response to increasingly serious
sustainable development issues in environmental, social, and financial markets, inter-
national organizations and countries around the world have proposed sustainable and
comprehensive development frameworks for human society [6].
As interest at the national level rises in Korea, along with the 2050 Declaration of
Carbon Neutralization (10 December 2020), government-level ESG institutionalization and
active ESG activation in the private sector are being discussed, and they have spread to
many areas since they were first conceived a year ago.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 3 of 18
The Korean government has required companies to disclose ESG obligations by 2025,
and since declaring the Green New Deal policy and carbon neutrality, ESG has been
promoted not only by the private sector but also by local governments (e.g., the city of
Namyangju, using the slogan “Namyangju Runs Green”). Changes are taking place in the
full-scale promotion of ESG administration [
8
], and ESG management, which was centered
on private organizations and companies, is spreading to government agencies [9].
In addition, as part of this policy, green infrastructure—a conceptual alternative to
improve urban environmental, cultural, and economic value—continues to be discussed in
the domestic landscape field as a sustainable plan.
The first time the term “green infrastructure,” a combination of “green” and “infras-
tructure”, was used was in the policy report published by the Clinton administration
in May 1999, entitled the President’s Council on Sustainable Development [
10
,
11
]. The
policy report at the time presented “green infrastructure” as one of the five strategies for
sustainable community development.
Green infrastructure creates a network of physical green spaces, the concept of green-
ways, to continuously utilize recreation functions in the city; it solves urban social problems
by adding the concept of natural ecosystems to human ones [11].
Various benefits exist in green infrastructure [
12
], and the multifunctional benefits
have the following three aspects:
First, contributing to the economic development of the community by improving the
social, physical, and environmental conditions of the site [13].
Second, the promotion of leisure activities, realization of community’s aesthetic pref-
erence, improvement of residential environments through community regeneration and
provision of comfort for human mental and physical health [
14
], and encouraging lo-
cal residents’ voluntary participation in community environment management, granting
socio-cultural benefits [15].
Third, ecological network contribution through biodiversity and habitat protection,
environmental quality improvement, and ecological function of adaptation and mitigation
of climate change [16].
The economic, socio-cultural, and ecological functions of green infrastructure become
the basis for the introduction of green infrastructure in planning and land use by allowing
them to be efficiently utilized in a limited space through the combination of functions [
17
].
As such, the establishment of a green infrastructure tailored to the local environment for
sustainable development can be a key strategy for maintaining various environmental
benefits and sustainable communities in the city.
In this study, to pursue sustainability, we examined the research trends of green
infrastructure from an ESG perspective and examined the relationship between green
infrastructure research subjects and items by ESG field. In the future, research on green
infrastructure in Korea needs to include various studies related to this so that ESG manage-
ment that pursues social, environmental, ethical, and sustainable growth as a policy tool in
the public domain can be realized. Through this, it was judged that the evaluation factors
for each ESG item as a strategy for creating a sustainable community environment from
various developments can contribute to progressing the green infrastructure plan.
2. Materials and Methods
This study used a systematic literature review [
18
]. Considering the characteristics
of continuous research from the past to the present, the scope of research was limited to
2006–2021 to explore the “green infrastructure” trend and review the research subjects and
fields in which the term is used. The specific research process is shown in Figure 1.
As a research method, papers from domestic and international academic journals were
collected through an electronic journal database search.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 4 of 18
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x 4 of 18
The overseas database used for this study was the Highly Cited Paper Index in the
Web of Science; domestic academic papers listed in the Korea Citation Index (KCI) and
candidates for KCI registration were collected from RISS (the Research Information Shar-
ing Service, http://www.riss.kr/, accessed on 5 March 2022) through a total of three stages
of literature extraction.
The search keyword used for international search was green + infrastructure and
the search keyword used for domestic search was greeninfra or green infrastructure.
In the first stage of the document selection process, in the simple search, keyword
search (South Korea n = 198 articles, International n = 4245 articles), Document Type
(South Korea n = 143 articles, International n = 3730 articles), and Publication Years, which
were narrowed down to the period from 2006 to 2021 in Korea, when the study started,
were set as parameters (South Korea n = 143, International n = 3730), and finally, academic
papers that had secured public credibility by KIC listing in Korea and highly cited papers
(South Korea n = 96, International n = 69) were selected.
The second stage was the exclusion of duplicate articles (74 domestic articles, 63 for-
eign articles), and in the third stage, after reviewing the keywords and abstracts of the
searched articles, their thesis values, and effects, the classification by ESG items was pre-
implemented based on the target of application.
To select studies meaningful for the analysis of the relationship between green infra-
structure and ESG, first, Moodys ESG evaluation index (https://www.moodys.com, ac-
cessed on 12 March 2022), one of the three major credit rating agencies in the United States,
was used to select 55 international and 43 domestic research papers related to E (Environ-
ment), S (Social), and G (Governance) factors, with relevance for each category.
Among the 98 journal publications finally derived, the author reorganized and ana-
lyzed the publication status, research targets, and contents of each E, S, and G evaluation
index based on major evaluation indicators being promoted overseas (international credit
rating agencies) and domestic indicators (outside the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and En-
ergy).
Figure 1. Research process.
Figure 1. Research process.
The overseas database used for this study was the Highly Cited Paper Index in the
Web of Science; domestic academic papers listed in the Korea Citation Index (KCI) and
candidates for KCI registration were collected from RISS (the Research Information Sharing
Service, http://www.riss.kr/, accessed on 5 March 2022) through a total of three stages of
literature extraction.
The search keyword used for international search was “green + infrastructure” and
the search keyword used for domestic search was “greeninfra” or “green infrastructure”.
In the first stage of the document selection process, in the simple search, keyword
search (South Korea n = 198 articles, International n = 4245 articles), Document Type (South
Korea n = 143 articles, International n = 3730 articles), and Publication Years, which were
narrowed down to the period from 2006 to 2021 in Korea, when the study started, were set
as parameters (South Korea n = 143, International n = 3730), and finally, academic papers
that had secured public credibility by KIC listing in Korea and highly cited papers (South
Korea n = 96, International n = 69) were selected.
The second stage was the exclusion of duplicate articles (74 domestic articles,
63 foreign articles), and in the third stage, after reviewing the keywords and abstracts
of the searched articles, their thesis values, and effects, the classification by ESG items was
pre-implemented based on the target of application.
To select studies meaningful for the analysis of the relationship between green in-
frastructure and ESG, first, Moody’s ESG evaluation index (https://www.moodys.com,
accessed on 12 March 2022), one of the three major credit rating agencies in the United
States, was used to select 55 international and 43 domestic research papers related to
E (Environment), S (Social), and G (Governance) factors, with relevance for each category.
Among the 98 journal publications finally derived, the author reorganized and ana-
lyzed the publication status, research targets, and contents of each E, S, and G evaluation
index based on major evaluation indicators being promoted overseas (international credit
rating agencies) and domestic indicators (outside the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and
Energy).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 5 of 18
3. Results
3.1. ESG Evaluation Indicators
In line with the recent trend of emphasizing international environmental and social
governance, ESG standards are being upgraded, and an appropriate foundation is being
established. Although the evaluation indicators differ from institution to institution, the
fundamental purpose they pursue is the same. Based on the major evaluation indicators
being promoted overseas (international credit rating agencies) and domestic indicators
(excluding the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy), it was reorganized in Table 2
as follows.
Table 2. Domestic and foreign ESG evaluation indicators.
Category
ESG Evaluation
Indicators (Reorganized
by Author to Analyze
Research Trends in
Green Infrastructure at
Home and Abroad)
Moody’s (National
ESG Evaluation
Report) [19]
K-ESG (Ministry of
Trade, Industry, and
Energy) Guideline’s
Key Items [20]
ESG Promotion
Strategy for
Domestic Public
Institutions (Korea
Rural Community
Corporation) [21]
Domestic Research
Results of ESG
Evaluation
Indicators for Public
Institutions [22]
E
(Environment) Carbon reduction and
greenhouse gas reduction
Carbon conversion Greenhouse gas
emissions
Reaching carbon
neutrality by
expanding renewable
energy
Climate change and
greenhouse gas
reduction
Combating climate
change (reducing urban
heat island effects, etc.) Climate change Ratio of energy and
renewable energy use
Green energy Environmental
efforts
Water resource
management (reduction
in flood and runoff,
disaster, water, water
quality protection, etc.)
Water resource
management Waste discharge Carbon reduction Eco-friendly
products and services
Air quality management
(air pollution
improvement, air
purification, etc.)
Waste and pollution Air pollutant
emissions Construction of a
green ecosystem Safety and risk
management
Conservation and
construction of natural
capital (land, forest,
ecological diversity, etc.)
Natural capital (land,
forests, ecological
diversity, etc.)
Water pollutant
emissions
Energy management Certified eco-friendly
products and services
S
(Social)
Consideration of
Members of Society
(Providing Opportunities
for Service Benefits, etc.)
Population Socially Responsible
Management Policy A safe and
Happy Life Job Creation
Health (health
promotion, etc.) Labor and income Formulation of
human rights policies
and risk assessment Creation of hope Human rights/labor
practices
Safety (environmental
damage,
crime safety, etc.) Health and safety
Safety and health
promotion system
and industrial
accident rate
Health and vigor Ethical management
Education (learning,
experience, etc.) Education
Strategic social
contribution
(community
contribution)
Security guard Fairness, protection
of the weak, and
social integration
Residential and living
environment
(improvement of
comfort, etc.)
Residence Compliance with
social
laws/regulations
Community
participation and
development
Community
contributions (regional
economy and tourism
revitalization, etc.)
Basic service
accessibility Information
protection
G
(Governance) Policies and Systems Institutional
Structure Board Diversity,
Activities, etc.
Realizing Common
Values Together with
the People Leadership
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 6 of 18
Table 2. Cont.
Category
ESG Evaluation
Indicators (Reorganized
by Author to Analyze
Research Trends in
Green Infrastructure at
Home and Abroad)
Moody’s (National
ESG Evaluation
Report) [19]
K-ESG (Ministry of
Trade, Industry, and
Energy) Guideline’s
Key Items [20]
ESG Promotion
Strategy for
Domestic Public
Institutions (Korea
Rural Community
Corporation) [21]
Domestic Research
Results of ESG
Evaluation
Indicators for Public
Institutions [22]
Participation Policy reliability and
effectiveness Board structure Participation Board of directors
operation
Transparency and
information
disclosure Ethical management Transparency Transparent
management
Budget management
Compliance with
auditing and
governance
regulations
Integrity Fiscal soundness
Stakeholder
communication
Compliance with
policy
Source: author, based on detailed evaluation items by domestic and international public and private evaluation
institutions.
3.2. Green Infrastructure Research Trends Related to ESG
3.2.1. Status of Publication of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research
Papers Related to ESG
Analysis of the articles related to green infrastructure from 98 domestic and interna-
tional journals showed that research has been actively conducted in Korea since 2007, and
has been on a steep rise since 2016 (Figure 2).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x 6 of 18
Budget management
Compliance with audit-
ing and governance reg-
ulations
Integrity Fiscal soundness
Stakeholder communica-
tion
Compliance with policy
Source: author, based on detailed evaluation items by domestic and international public and private eval-
uation institutions.
3.2. Green Infrastructure Research Trends Related to ESG
3.2.1.
Status of Publication of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research Pa-
pers Related to ESG
Analysis of the articles related to green infrastructure from 98 domestic and interna-
tional journals showed that research has been actively conducted in Korea since 2007, and
has been on a steep rise since 2016 (Figure 2).
Green infrastructure research, according to ESG items, was published with more than
60% of the focus on the environment both domestically and abroad, which is believed to
be due to the early start of the concept of green infrastructure in the academic fields related
to landscaping, environment, and civil engineering (Table 2). It can be seen that the re-
maining papers had a similar proportion in the order of governance and social factors,
and research has recently expanded to various academic fields such as cities, architecture,
and administration (Table 3).
Figure 2. Current status of publication of domestic and international green infrastructure research
related to ESG.
Table 3. Domestic and foreign ESG evaluation indicators.
Category Total/f (%) 20062010 20112015 20162021
Korea
E (Environment)
28 1 11 16
(65.1) (2.3) (25.6) (37.2)
S (Social) 5 2 - 3
(11.6) (4.7) (7)
G (Governance) 10 1 2 7
(23.3) (2.3) (4.7) (16.3)
Total 43 4 13 26
(100) (9.3) (30.2) (60.5)
Figure 2.
Current status of publication of domestic and international green infrastructure research
related to ESG.
Green infrastructure research, according to ESG items, was published with more than
60% of the focus on the environment both domestically and abroad, which is believed
to be due to the early start of the concept of green infrastructure in the academic fields
related to landscaping, environment, and civil engineering (Table 2). It can be seen that the
remaining papers had a similar proportion in the order of governance and social factors,
and research has recently expanded to various academic fields such as cities, architecture,
and administration (Table 3).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 7 of 18
Table 3. Domestic and foreign ESG evaluation indicators.
Category Total/f (%) 2006–2010 2011–2015 2016–2021
Korea
E (Environment) 28 1 11 16
(65.1) (2.3) (25.6) (37.2)
S (Social) 5 2 -3
(11.6) (4.7) (7)
G (Governance) 10 1 2 7
(23.3) (2.3) (4.7) (16.3)
Total 43 4 13 26
(100) (9.3) (30.2) (60.5)
Overseas
E (Environment) 34 -10 24
(61.8) (18.2) (43.6)
S (Social) 10 -2 8
(18.2) (3.6) (14.5)
G (Governance) 11 -1 10
(20) (1.8) (18.2)
Total 55 -13 42
(100) (23.6) (76.4)
3.2.2. Green Infrastructure Research Trends According to ESG Evaluation Indicators
An analysis of the current status of research data published according to ESG evalua-
tion indicators reconstructed by the author for domestic and international research trends
showed that similar indicators were distributed in E (Environment) and G (Governance)
items (Table 4).
The E (Environment) field showed a very similar research status in climate change
response, with seven cases (16.3%) in Korea and nine cases (16.4%) overseas and in air
quality management, with three cases (7.0%) in Korea and three cases (5.5%) overseas.
Higher concentrations were found in water resource management (13 cases, 30.2%) and
natural capital conservation and construction (5 cases, 11.6%) in Korea, and in water
resource management (3 cases, 5.5%) and natural capital conservation and construction
(19 cases, 34.5%) overseas.
In Korea, disaster management and water cycle research were treated as important
subjects: damage from wind and water due to climate change accounts for more than
90% of all natural disasters, and it is concentrated in urban areas [
23
]. Research on
green infrastructure for low-impact development techniques (LIDs) [
24
28
] in riparian
areas, improvement of urban water circulation [
29
31
], and reduction in precipitation
runoff [
32
35
] was conducted. Research on the preservation and construction of natural
capital in Korea was conducted for green growth evaluation techniques [
36
,
37
], urban
planning and GIS utilization planning techniques [
38
,
39
], and volume mapping research
on vegetation sites [
40
]. In addition, studies were conducted to cope with climate change,
focusing on topics such as the impact and utilization of green infrastructure on climate
change [
41
43
], greenhouse gas reduction and thermal environment improvement [
44
47
],
and air quality management such as fine dust reduction [4850].
In foreign countries, research was actively conducted to secure green areas such
as land and forests and to establish spaces for ecological diversity, and many studies
were conducted on ecosystem services (ESs), ecosystem-based adaptations (EbAs), frame-
works [
15
,
51
57
], and nature-based solutions (NbSs) [
58
61
], plans for securing green space
and ecological diversity and policies [
62
66
], street trees, agricultural environment, and the
effects provided by natural capital [
67
,
68
]. In addition, plans and models for adaptation
to climate change [
69
73
], urban heat island mitigation [
74
77
], and green infrastructure
utilization plans for air pollution reduction [
78
80
] were studied. In contrast to Korea,
water resource management was partially studied in relation to water management for
sustainability [81,82] and low-impact development [83].
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 8 of 18
Table 4.
Status of publication of domestic and international green infrastructure research according
to ESG evaluation index.
Category
ESG Evaluation Indicators (Reorganized by Author to
Analyze Research Trends in Green Infrastructure at
Home and Abroad)
South Korea Overseas Country
Papers % Papers %
E (Environment)
Carbon and greenhouse gas reduction 0 - 0 -
Climate change response
(Reduction in urban heat island effect, etc.) 7 16.3 9 16.4
Water management (flood and runoff reduction, disaster,
water, water quality protection, etc.) 13 30.2 3 5.5
Air quality management
(Improvement of air pollution, air purification, etc.) 3 7 3 5.5
Natural capital—preserve and build
(land, forests, ecological diversity, etc.) 5 11.6 19 34.5
Energy management 0 - 0 -
Subtotal 28 65.1 34 61.8
S (Social)
Caring for members of society 0-3 5.5
(Service benefit, opportunities, etc.)
Health (health promotion, etc.) 0 - 7 12.7
Safety (environmental damage, crime safety, etc.) 0 - 0 -
Education (learning, experience, etc.) 0 - 0 -
Residential and living environment (improvement of
comfort, etc.) 3 7 0 -
Community contribution (revitalizing the local economy
and tourism) 2 4.7 0 -
Subtotal 5 11.6 10 18.2
G (Governance)
Policies and institutions 10 23.3 11 20
Participation 0 - 0 -
Subtotal 10 23.3 11 20
Total 43 100 55 100
However, research has not been conducted on energy management evaluation indica-
tors related to renewable energy with active policies worldwide (Table 4).
In the S (Social) field, some studies related to housing and living environment (three
cases, 7.0%) and community contribution (two cases, 4.7%) have been published in Korea,
but studies related to health (seven cases, 12.7%) and consideration of social members
(three cases, 5.5%) were conducted abroad.
In Korea, the main focus was on the level of user satisfaction [
84
86
] and the economic
value [
87
,
88
] that green areas and parks can provide to residential and living environ-
ments. Overseas, research was conducted on human health and well-being [
89
92
], public
health [
93
95
], and equity using green infrastructure [
96
98
] provided by green infrastruc-
ture.
However, there was no research on indicators in the education sector, such as safety,
learning, and experience, for the effects of environmental damage or crime safety (Table 4).
The G (Government) field showed that studies on policies and systems (10 cases, or
23.3%, in Korea, and 12 cases, or 20.0%, abroad) were active in Korea and abroad, and that
they had high expectations for urban and park development or continuation through green
infrastructure.
In Korea, policy improvement of green infrastructure in connection with existing
systems, such as urban planning, green park plans, land use plans, and urban-based
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 9 of 18
projects [
99
102
], as well as research on evaluation techniques that support policies and
systems [
103
106
] and certification plan studies [
107
], was conducted. In overseas coun-
tries, urban policies using green infrastructure [
108
110
], ESs, and other eco-logically
based green city policies were implemented to study the effects of climate change and
sustainability [111115] and effects of joint policy efforts [116118].
However, indicators related to participation in green infrastructure planning or policy
establishment have not been studied (Table 4).
3.3. Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research Trends and Implications
3.3.1. Subjects and Contents of Domestic Green Infrastructure Research
The highest proportion of research on green infrastructure in Korea focused on large
areas, such as cities and green areas, followed by units of green infrastructure such as parks,
roads, green facilities, and waterfronts, which were studied in connection with the creation
of an urban ecological environment and pollution reduction (Table 5).
Table 5. Domestic green infrastructure research target in South Korea.
Subject Detail Subject Total F (%)
Cities Urban policy and development, land use,
neighborhood complexes, housing
development sites, etc. 14 32.6
Green spaces
Urban forests, ecological green axis, vegetation
settlement, development-restricted area, urban
base green areas, non-urbanized land, green
buffer areas, etc.
7 16.3
Green infrastructure - - -
Parks Urban parks, etc. 6 14
Road Roads, highways, greenways, etc. 5 11.6
Greening
Wall greening, green walls, green infrastructure
4 9.4
Ecosystem - - -
Water
Waterfront and hydrophilic spaces, Flood-prone
areas, non-point sources, etc. 5 11.6
Air-contaminated
area Vulnerable areas of fine dust 2 4.7
Total 43 100
From the ESG point of view, domestic green infrastructure research mainly focused on
the G (Government) area, such as policies, plans, and evaluations for green infrastructure,
compared to E (Environment) and S (Social) aspects.
The contents of urban policies and plans, evaluation of green infrastructure plans, and
techniques of domestic green infrastructure research were actively studied. In particular,
research measures for green infrastructure, green growth, and balanced development, such
as urban planning and design techniques (five cases, 11.6%), LID (five cases, 11.6%), and
green growth evaluation (five cases, 11.6%), were extensively handled, suggesting the
importance of green infrastructure as a comprehensive and future policy at the city level
(Table 6).
3.3.2. International Green Infrastructure Research Subjects and Contents
Table 7shows that, in Korea, internationally too, research on large-scale objects such
as cities, green spaces, and green infrastructure accounted for a high proportion of green
infrastructure research (Table 7).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 10 of 18
Table 6. Domestic green infrastructure research content in South Korea.
Category Research Content Total F (%)
Urban policies and
plans
Evaluation and improvement of legal systems
and policies 3 7.0
Urban planning and design techniques 5 11.6
LID 5 11.6
Environmentally friendly complex certification
(LEED-ND) 2 4.7
Evaluation of land use characteristics and urban
resilience 2 4.7
GIS utilization techniques 1 2.3
Subtotal 18 41.9
Green spaces Park policies and plans 3 7
Subtotal 3 7
Green infrastructure
Green growth assessment 5 9.3
Green infrastructure planning technique 4 11.6
Subtotal 9 9.3
Urban biodiversity
Vegetation settlement, vegetation volume
mapping study 2 4.7
Ecological impact assessment 1 2.3
Vegetation (wall, road, etc.) 3 7
Subtotal 6 14
Water resources and
disaster management
Improvement of excellent management
techniques and water circulation 4 9.3
Disaster prevention function and atmospheric
management evaluation 3 7.0
Subtotal 7 16.3
Total 43 100
Table 7. International green infrastructure research target.
Subject Detail Subject Total F (%)
Cities Cities, land use, urban development, urban
environment, urban planning, urban vacancy,
and land use legacies 19 34.5
Green spaces Green spaces, agricultural land, neighborhood
greenness, urban forest, urban green spaces
(UGS), urban green–blue spaces, urban nature 13 23.6
Green infrastructure Urban green infrastructure 9 16.4
Parks Parks, urban gardens, urban green parks 4 7.3
Road Roads, streets 2 3.6
Greening Urban greening, vegetation barriers 3 5.5
Ecosystem Ecosystem, NbSs 3 5.5
Water Water management, stormwater management 2 3.6
Air-contaminated
area - - -
Total 55 100
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 11 of 18
In addition to policies, planning techniques, and evaluation, studies on urban biodi-
versity (16 cases, 29.1%), such as ESs, EbA measures and frameworks, and NbSs occupied
the largest proportion.
In addition, various studies have been conducted to improve disaster management
and the global environment, such as those focusing on green space and health and human
well-being (six cases, 10.9%), urban heat islands (five cases, 9.1%), climate change (four
cases, 7.3%), air quality (two cases, 3.6%), and water (three cases, 5.5%) (Table 8).
Table 8. International green infrastructure research.
Category Research Content Total F (%)
Urban policy and
planning
Urban planning valuation and framework,
socioecological system, urban resilience study 6 10.9
Policy options for managing urban growth 1 1.8
Subtotal 7 12.7
Green spaces
Green space and health, human well-being 6 10.9
Green space networks, framework, quantifying,
planning 4 7.3
Agri-environmental schemes (AESs) 1 1.8
Applying GSM data 1 1.8
Subtotal 12 21.8
Green Infrastructure
Green infrastructure planning and technologies
4 7.3
Subtotal 4 7.3
Urban biodiversity
Ecosystem services (ESs), ecosystem-based
adaptation (EbA) measures and frameworks 11 20
Nature-based solutions (NbSs) 5 9.1
Designing vegetation barriers, urban planting 2 3.6
Subtotal 18 32.7
Water resources and
disaster management
Reducing urban heat stress, cooling the
environment 5 9.1
Climate change adaptation and mitigation
plans and model 4 7.3
Improving urban air quality 2 3.6
Water management, stormwater control,
techniques 3 5.5
Subtotal 14 25.5
Total 55 100
From an ESG point of view, various studies (S, E) were conducted on the relationship
between humans’ health and the ecological environment, in addition to technological
studies (G), such as policies and plans for green infrastructure, compared to Korea, which
had no technological studies.
4. Discussion
4.1. Comparative Analysis of Domestic and International Green Infrastructure Research Trends
Comparing the published status of the analyzed green infrastructure research, the
scale and expansion of research followed the order of E > G > S both in the domestic
and international literature, but there were some differences in detailed ESG evaluation
indicators. In the G field, only research on policies and systems was conducted in Korea
and abroad, but in the E field, domestic water resources management was the main focus,
while overseas, natural capital conservation and establishment were the most common
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 12 of 18
subjects. In Korea, research on S aspects was conducted on housing, the living environ-
ment, and contribution to the local community, while overseas research was conducted on
consideration of social members and health indicators.
In terms of green infrastructure research, Korea has also heavily focused on policies
and plans for cities, parks, and green infrastructure, and some research on water resource
management and vegetation environment was conducted. On the other hand, research on
urban biodiversity was most active overseas, followed by planning and policies for cities,
green infrastructure, and green areas, and research was conducted in various fields, such
as urban heat islands, climate, air quality, water resources, and greening.
Korea focuses on short-term and practical utility, such as disaster and resource man-
agement, and improvement of people’s living and economic help. In foreign countries,
the macroscopic relationship between humans and the ecological environment is impor-
tant, and thus the focus is on securing ecological spaces both inside and outside the city,
expanding social services, and living a healthy life.
4.2. Correlation between Green Infrastructure Research Subjects and Items by ESG Field
According to the conceptual definition and planning direction of green infrastructure,
it is a physical space of various scales created for ecosystem services, recreational functions
in the city, and solutions to urban social problems, where—in addition to space plans
such as land use projects—integration and collaboration plans with public policies are also
needed.
As a result of analyzing green infrastructure research, selected according to the evalu-
ation index items of the ESG field reconstructed by the author, research activities in the E
and G fields are expanding, but they are relatively low in the S field.
Research on policies, land use, and development techniques for both domestic and
foreign cities accounted for the largest proportion of green infrastructure studies, and
system studies for LID and urban ecological diversity were actively conducted.
This is considered as part of an effort to prepare an environmental response plan
using green infrastructure targets of various scales, such as green areas, parks, roads, and
green facilities, as global awareness of crisis is rising due to environmental pollution and
disasters [
72
,
113
]. This means that green infrastructure, including ESs, is being actively
accepted in the decision making in spatial planning and policy systems in cities to promote
sustainable development [101,109].
4.3. The Development of Green Infrastructure Research from the ESG Perspective
For green infrastructure to contribute to ESG management in the public sector, suffi-
cient research evidence and data are needed to support the validity of each field. As a result
of analyzing the current status of green infrastructure research using the ESG evaluation
index in this study, the fields that were relatively insufficient, or evaluation indicators that
have not yet been studied, are as follows.
First, the subjects and contents of research that are currently biased toward the E and
G fields should be further expanded to the S fields. It is clear that the implementation of
green infrastructure plans or policies has a positive environmental and ecological impact.
However, the social impact on human life requires long-term observation, and the amount
of research and interest concerning this subject so far is not high. According to domestic and
foreign research trends in the ESG evaluation index, research considering social members,
health, housing and living environments, and community contribution is emerging, but
there is no research on safety and education, and the transfer of research is insufficient
compared to the E and G fields.
Second, for the policy use of green infrastructure, indicators related to green energy
for carbon neutrality should be studied. In response to global warming, various efforts
are being made to establish net-zero-carbon cities, rather than simply low-carbon cities,
in line with global efforts to break away from the fossil fuel era to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. To prepare for it, fuel and renewable energy materials are required, together
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 13 of 18
with urban spaces, industrial structures, and a green infrastructure environment [
119
]. In
the E field, it is necessary to study the effects of green infrastructure on carbon reduction,
greenhouse gas reduction, and energy management indicators.
Third, research on collaboration in green infrastructure plans or policies in the G
field is needed. In ESG management, transparency, soundness, and value realization
through communication of plans or policies are important, and must be accompanied
by participation indicators. Since research on participation indicators has not yet been
conducted at home or abroad, it seems necessary to study cases or measures to secure the
reliability of policies through participation or communication in the planning or policy
establishment stage of developing green infrastructure.
4.4. Development of Green Infrastructure Research in Korea
As the importance of green infrastructure for combatting climate change, disaster
response, and sustainable growth has expanded, related research on the applicability and
effectiveness of urban planning and policies is becoming more active, and Korea’s interest
is similar to that found overseas.
However, according to the detailed evaluation indicators or research contents of each
ESG field, Korea tends to concentrate on plans, techniques, and economic effects for disaster
and resource management.
In the E field, research on natural capital conservation and construction indicators
such as land and forests is passive, and research on urban ecological diversity has not yet
been conducted.
In addition, in the S field, it seems to have focused only on short-term policy effects,
focusing on residential, living environments, and community contribution indicators.
For Korean green infrastructure research to be consistent with the ESG management
vision in the future, various considerations of the cycle of macroscopic human life and
ecological environment, in addition to short-term effects and technology utilization, will be
needed.
5. Conclusions
Although ESG and green infrastructure are commonly oriented toward sustainability
and are actively embraced by national policies around the world, no research or consid-
eration has been dedicated to the relationship between green infrastructure and the ESG
perspective.
To analyze the relationship between green infrastructure and ESG, 55 research papers
from abroad and 43 from Korea that meet the ESG evaluation index criteria were selected
and considered among green infrastructure studies from 2006 to 2021. The selected papers
analyzed the status of green infrastructure research related to ESG, green infrastructure
research trends according to the ESG evaluation index, and green infrastructure research
subjects and contents, respectively, and the author reconstructed and used the ESG evalua-
tion index based on detailed evaluation items developed by domestic and foreign public
and private evaluation institutions.
As a result, research on green infrastructure in both Korea and abroad is expanding in
the E, S, and G fields, and various studies are also distributed in the detailed ESG evaluation
index reconstructed by the author. This means that the green infrastructure is largely in line
with the goals and indicators of ESG management, and suggests that the establishment of
green infrastructure will contribute to ESG management in the public sector in the future.
This study reveals that green infrastructure is a useful environmental, social, and
policy tool for realizing ESG management in pursuit of social, environmental, and ethical
sustainable growth in the public domain, and it can be used to present ESG evaluation
indicators in future green infrastructure plans and policies.
To this end, the direction of future green infrastructure research is presented as follows.
First, for green infrastructure to contribute to ESG management in the public sector,
sufficient research evidence and data are needed to support the validity of each field, E, S,
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 7099 14 of 18
and G, so research in the S field, which is relatively insufficient compared to the E and G
fields, should be expanded.
Second, research in fields lacking in literature according to the ESG evaluation index
is needed. As the E field’s concern with carbon reduction, greenhouse gas reduction,
and energy management, the S field’s focus on safety and education, and the G field’s
participation indicators are increasingly important in public ESG management globally,
related research will be essential in the future.
Third, green infrastructure plans and policies account for a large portion of public
capital, and since most of the infrastructure projects are carried out as long-term projects,
sufficient validity will be provided when research on human and ecological environment
diversity and relationships is supported from a macro perspective. As Korea focuses on
research on short-term effects and technical aspects, studies on macroscopic human life
and ecological environment cycles are essential.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, E.L. and G.K.; methodology, E.L. and G.K.; data curation,
E.L.; writing—original draft preparation, E.L.; writing—review and editing, E.L. and G.K.; visualiza-
tion, E.L.; supervision, G.K.; project administration, G.K. All authors have read and agreed to the
published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement:
The data presented in this study are available on request from the
corresponding author.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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