Dear Deputy Director General Sun Zhen,
Dear Professor He Jiankun,
Dear Chairman Li Junfeng,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning! Happy New Year to everyone!
It is a great pleasure to welcome you today to the United Nations Policy Dialogue on Green Development.
This is the third event of a series initiated by the UN Country Team in China as part of the UN Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 launched by the Secretary General in April 2020. The Framework was prepared as an integrated support package that the United Nations Development System can leverage as it tailors its response to the pandemic in each country, with a focus on protecting the needs of the most vulnerable.
China’s experience with the pandemic is unique. China was the first country to be severely affected by it, but also the first country where the recovery started remarkably early. In this respect, our focus as the UN family shifted from immediate response to the design of a recovery that not only builds back, but "builds back better". A recovery that establishes better conditions for accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind.
In this context, green development is a particularly vital topic. In December, at the Climate Ambition Summit celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate, United Nations Secretary General Gutierres stressed that climate efforts across the world are still woefully insufficient. We are all well aware that at the current rate, trends in global temperature are set to rise to 3°C and more, if we do not take urgent, immediate actions. The priority of the United Nations is thus to build a Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality by 2050, while targeting a reduction of global emissions by 45% by 2030.
It is in this light that the United Nations applauds the game changing pledge made by President Xi in September 2020, that China would peak its emissions by 2030, and become carbon neutral by 2060. This is without a doubt a momentous objective with significant ramifications for future economic and social policies in China – and beyond. It is important that today’s efforts and investments positively impact the next generation, for a more resilient and inclusive society.
Equally important are biodiversity protection and nature-based solutions. Currently, one million species are at risk of extinction, with key ecosystems disappearing and deserts extending their surface every year. For these reasons, the United Nations is hopeful that the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming later this year will be a turning point and a new milestone in biodiversity global governance.
So in today’s policy dialogue, we look forward to learning from our esteemed speakers, from the policies and actions undertaken in China, and to compile innovative and SDG-oriented policies for our common vision of green, inclusive and sustainable development.
The COVID-19 pandemic, for all its pain and losses, is a great opportunity to break away from the world as it was before, vulnerable to crises and lagging behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We must utilize this opportunity to build sustainable economies and societies that are more equal and inclusive.
Let me conclude by extending my sincere thanks to our partners from the Government of China, especially the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, for supporting our dialogue and participating today. My gratitude also goes to UNDP and UNEP for having organized the event.
I wish you all a fruitful dialogue and exchange.