14 January 2020
Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan, Vice Chairman of Bo’ao Forum for Asia,
Mr. Li Baodong, Secretary General of Bo’ao Forum for Asia,
I am honored to participate in the Bo’ao Forum for Asia’s 2020 New Year Reception and speak at this cheerful occasion.
As the Chinese saying goes, a year’s plan starts with Spring. We are here to take stock of the past year’s collaboration and plan for 2020 – a landmark year for both China and the international community, including everyone present here tonight.
In his message for 2020, Secretary-General António Guterres said that “we enter 2020 with uncertainty and insecurity all around”. Indeed, throughout 2019, the world had been constantly faced with bumpy moments. The year 2019 closed the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation. In July 2019, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development reviewed global progress. Two SDG progress reports, respectively, The Report of the Secretary General: The Special Edition of the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report and The Sustainable Development Report 2019 showed that despite progress in a number of areas over the past four years, on some of the Goals, progress has been slow or even reversed. The most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most and the global response has not been ambitious enough. For instance, extreme poverty has reached the lowest point since its tracking began. And yet, at the current pace, we are still not on track to end poverty by 2030. Similarly, many countries are taking actions to protect our environment, but the health of our earth is still deteriorating at an alarming rate. Alarmingly, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report warned us that “at the present rate of change, it will take nearly a century to achieve parity, a timeline we simply cannot accept in today’s globalized world, especially among younger generations who hold increasingly progressive views of gender equality.”
Despite turbulence, the world is not without hope. Valuable opportunities exist to accelerate progress.
To do so, we need to consolidate and enhance partnerships involving governments, international organizations, businesses and civil society at global, regional, national and sub-national levels.
At the country level, last year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the UN’s development presence in China and reviewed with our partners our joint journey of change. Over the past four decades, the UN, together with our counterparts in China, has witnessed the unprecedented development in China and evolved with it. Despite the changing context, the UN reaffirms its commitment to remain a strong partner in China’s continued domestic development journey and in its efforts to support other developing countries achieve their development goals. While anticipating a joint new journey of change, partnership and collaboration, I am happy to inform you that the United Nations in China has accepted the invitation from the Bo’ao Forum for Asia to be its Associate Member. We share the common mission and mandate to facilitate dialogues and forge common understanding, in the interest of the benefit and development of the people, the communities and countries.
2020 is the start of the ten-year countdown to the deadline for the SDGs. In spite of the urgency and daunting challenges, we have a decade to deliver for the people and the planet. It also marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations – a perfect timing to renew our joint commitment to multilateralism and collectively catalyze action toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Bo’ao Forum for Asia. Looking ahead, there is much to be done. Truly, the world is changing at an unprecedented pace and scale and the challenges facing us are as global and increasingly interlinked. By working together, preempting future risks, and adhering to the principle of leaving no one behind, we can deliver on the ambitious 2030 Agenda. I wish you a very happy and prosperous year of 2020.