Click here to watch the speech video at China.org.
Representatives of the Government of China,
I wish to thank the China International Publishing Group for the invitation to address the International Forum on Poverty Governance and Modernization, hosted with the support of the People’s Government of Yunnan Province, the China Public Relations Association and the Renmin University of China.
On behalf of the UN family in China, I congratulate CIPG for their efforts in deepening exchanges and cooperation as we discuss todays critical theme of “Advancing Global Poverty Governance for Modern Development”.
In the past year, the world has faced an unprecedented once-in-a-century global health crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 3 million people have lost their lives.
The recent surge of cases in India only further highlights the tragedy of this pandemic.
The health crisis has also been an economic, social, and humanitarian crisis causing much despair and misery for the livelihoods of older people, women and girls, low-income communities, and the many vulnerable populations in our societies.
The World Bank estimates that by the end of 2021, up to 150 million people will have been pushed back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.
Thankfully China has succeeded in slowing the virus’s spread, through its robust public health response.
Vaccines offer a new ray of hope for humanity, and the recent emergency use approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine by the World Health Organization opens the door to its use in the COVAX facility, to ensure vaccine equity between rich nations and poor.
And despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China went on in 2020 to execute one of the greatest achievements of economic development in history.
To transform the lives of nearly 100 million rural poor in the last seven years as a result of China’s Targeted Poverty Alleviation efforts, on time, and on schedule, demonstrates the importance of the political will showcased by President Xi Jinping and the Government of China.
China’s successful efforts against extreme poverty are, as the UN Secretary-General António Guterres described in his letter to President Xi Jinping, “a significant contribution towards realizing a better and more prosperous world”.
The same world struck by the bolt of lightning that was COVID-19, now awaits a post-pandemic future, and the opportunity to build back better and greener towards a more sustainable future.
China too is now transitioning towards a model of “high-quality development”, turning its’ attention towards rural revitalization to protect the gains of the past and advancing international development cooperation to ensure we leave no one behind.
The question we must ask is how we orient the international community towards the future that we want?
It was in 2015, that all UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Today, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals endure as our shared blueprint for peace and prosperity, for people and the planet, now and into the future.
At the heart of the SDGs are the interconnected and complex challenges that the whole world faces, not just poverty, but inequality, food security and the existential threat of climate change.
The SDGs remain essential for the recovery, flourishment and ultimately the survival of all humanity.
With less than 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, in the Decade of Action, we must turn our attention to sharing China’s development miracle with the world, especially with those in the African continent.
Since the opening-up and reform that took place four decades ago, over 750 million people have been lifted from extreme poverty in China.
China’s accomplishment is no accident.
The story of its’ development into the world’s second-largest economy and its key takeaways are of tremendous importance to other developing nations, especially those in Africa, when I last served as UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya.
Whether in manufacturing, infrastructure, its open market access, or its agricultural sectors, China’s poverty reduction experience is worth learning from.
In the continued investments in South-South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative, we see China moving forward to build an ecosystem that provides a network for prosperity, well-being, and education on a global scale.
Efforts such as these, if implemented in full and in full respect of international standards, can lift 7.6 million people from extreme poverty and 32 million from moderate poverty, a potential game-changer, especially for African nations.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment prioritized in recent Chinese international development cooperation priorities, as indicated by the recent CIDCA White Paper, will be the engine for future economic growth.
Africa’s population will grow to 2.5 billion by 2050.
By this time, two in five children in the world will be born there.
Realizing these economic and demographic dividends requires China’s investment today.
Now is the time to deepen the common development of China and Africa, and exchange resources, knowledge, and technical expertise to build on China’s poverty reduction record and create a win-win outcome.
Poverty is a dynamic and multi-dimensional phenomenon.
To achieve No Poverty and SDG 1 in its entirety, we must end poverty in all its forms, everywhere.
To protect the gains of the past, what we are now witnessing in the 14th Five-Year Plan is China turning to a future of rural revitalization in deep alignment with the SDG’s mission to leave no one behind.
For rural counties recently lifted from absolute poverty targets set by the government, a five-year transition period will apply, where major assistance policies will remain unchanged.
Monitoring and assistance will actually be enhanced, to prevent these populations from falling back into poverty, with more skills training, and regularized, tiered assistance to low-income rural residents.
Standards for maintaining high-quality farmland will be raised to ensure China’s food supply, with expected grain output to reach over 650 million metric tons in 2021.
Here again lies the value to the world of China’s poverty reduction efforts.
Consider this; over 40 per cent of Africa's agricultural produce is wasted every year due to post harvest loss.
Africa should be the breadbasket of the world, yet it imports nearly US 60-70 billion dollars' worth of food.
There is massive potential for agribusiness in Africa, with the industry’s value rising to US 1 trillion dollars by 2030.
There remain incredible development synergies between China and Africa
Therefore, the UN in China, working within the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework will closely partner with the Government of China to identify and build upon the needed public policies to achieve rural revitalization for vulnerable populations everywhere.
To meet and beat China’s new ambitions to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 will require all levers of society to move.
The reality is that economic growth and ecological progress are mutually dependent for as President Xi Jinping noted, “green mountains are gold mountains”.
The promotion of green and low-carbon development is a recurring theme of the 14th Five-Year Plan, with China expected to soon see forest coverage expand to 24.1 per cent of China’s total land area, having clean heating account for 70 per cent of all heating in northern China, and continued reductions in the discharge of major pollutants.
Making peace with nature will be at the cornerstone of future poverty reduction success for developing nations in the years to come.
What is now critically needed is the climate financing required for adaptation and mitigation efforts in the Global South, as we facilitate new partnerships with the private sector to mobilize needed resources to ensure a low carbon future.
As the largest developing country, here is where China can and will play its’ part.
Excellencies, we must renew our efforts, revitalize the deficit in multilateralism to ensure lasting poverty reduction for everyone and achieve the 2030 Agenda in full.
As President Xi Jinping recently noted, “Being lifted out of poverty is not an end in itself but the starting point of a new life and a new pursuit”.
That pursuit is the essence of the SDGs.
I wish attendees every success in today’s discussions.