My name is Siddharth Chatterjee, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.
I thank the China International Development Cooperation Agency for the opportunity to join Chairman Luo Zhaohui, Vice-Chairman Zhang Maoyu, Director General Cai Fangcai, the Ambassador of Laos Her Excellency Khamphao Ernthavanh, and other distinguished guests in the room today.
On behalf of the UN family in China, I congratulate CIDCA on the opening of todays’ training program as we share new models of best practice in international development assistance and advocate for bold new partnerships to address global challenges and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In the past year, China has set a model for the world to adopt in slowing the virus’s spread.
And despite the stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on international cooperation, China has acted in tenacity and compassion to join in solidarity with other nations.
As I witnessed first-hand as former UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, I saw the arrival of PPE and other medical supplies donated by China in March 2020 during the height of global supply chain disruptions.
Kenya, for example, was one of 53 countries in Africa to receive these critical resources from China.
I again wish to thank China’s generosity, in providing Africa with a first line of defence against the raging tsunami of the pandemic, which today has left a lingering impact on the burden of disease faced by the continent.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that no one government or stakeholder alone can truly address global challenges alone.
I saw this first hand during my time in Kenya, which at the time confronted very high rates of maternal mortality in often remote locations.
As a UN family, we sought collaboration from companies such as Huawei from China, Merck from the United States, Phillips from the Netherlands, and GlaxoSmithKline from the United Kingdom.
We also teamed up with Safaricom Foundation and the Kenya Health Federation to harness the power of big data and innovation to support the Government of Kenya’s efforts to reduce maternal death in the counties facing the highest burden.
In a matter of two and a half years, it was this partnership that led to a one-third reduction of maternal mortality in these counties, hailed as a best practice at the World Economic Forum in 2017 and today forms the basis of the SDG Partnership Platform launched with the Government of Kenya.
To the many provincial-level officials and representatives from state-owned and private enterprises in the room today, I say to you that these efforts represent the new modality of multilateral partnerships needed to achieve the SDGs in this Decade of Action.
COVID-19 is not only a worldwide health crisis but an economic and humanitarian crisis that has struck all nations like a bolt of lightning, underlining the many inequalities of our societies.
As we orient ourselves towards post-pandemic recovery, there are four development deficits that the world must confront.
These are the health, infrastructure, green and digital deficits.
But the most significant barrier in confronting these deficits is a deficit in trust and a deficit in multilateralism.
Resolving these deficits is not only a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs in China and the rest of the world, but ultimately the survival and flourishing of all humanity.
It is now clear that SDG 3 regarding “Good Health and Well-Being” will be a central pillar for the achievement of all other SDGs.
Without health, we will not have the strength, intellect, or prosperity to make progress.
As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Stronger health systems and Universal Health Coverage must be a priority”.
Here again we welcome China’s significant contributions to the WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, support of the COVAX Facility and facilitation of the WFP Global Humanitarian Hub in Guangzhou.
Efforts here must be redoubled to ensure vaccine equity and strengthen global health systems, delivering universal health coverage to everyone, everywhere.
China is now at a precipice of tremendous opportunity to stand at the frontier of global best practice and align its continued investments in South-South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative with the 2030 Agenda.
China’s push to prioritize gender equality and women’s empowerment in its global cooperation priorities, as indicated in the recent CIDCA white paper is most welcome. We need to work together to address inequalities everywhere.
With the world in a climate emergency, China’s pledge to achieve peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 represents an ambitious but necessary undertaking.
To protect the gains of the past on poverty reduction, we also see China moving to advance rural revitalization in its’ 14th Five-Year Plan, a vision in sync with the principle of leaving no one behind.
On these fronts and many more, the UN Family in China stands ready to lend its expertise in development, technical, and partnership capabilities in support of the Government of China and share its development story with the world.
Commenting on China’s poverty reduction progress, President Xi Jinping said, “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 ceremony and future trainings facilitated by CIDCA.