photo credit: @Xinhua
Mr. Gu Shengzu, Vice Chairman of the 13th CPPCC National Committee
H.E. Mr. Gao Yu, Chairman of Counsellors' Office of the State Council
Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to address you today at the 2021 Forum on National Affairs.
I wish to thank the Counsellors’ Office of the State Council for organizing this forum on national affairs. We are all in a critical moment of the world as challenges like the pandemic and climate change are deeply affecting and changing our perceptions and ways of life. The United Nations is urgently calling on all the countries to be united in facing the challenges on multiple fronts together and achieve sustainable development at the global level.
Within a year and a half after the UN Secretary General’s global call for a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, China celebrated its success in the fight against extreme income poverty. We salute China’s achievement, while recognizing that challenges remain, including the urban-rural divide and the climate change. This forum is critical at this decisive time for China to address the paradigm shift from eradicating extreme poverty to achieving rural revitalization and building common prosperity.
In a compelling and brilliant speech at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, on 21 September 2021, China’s President Xi Jinping proposed a global development initiative towards a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth to confront the severe shocks of COVID-19.
He suggested to foster global development partnerships that are more equal and balanced, forging greater synergy towards multilateralism, and speeding up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the UN Secretary General. Mr Antonio Guterres’ representative and his Resident Coordinator in China I feel privileged to serve in a country that values multilateralism and fully supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
In the 14th Five-Year-Plan, China is focusing on building inclusiveness, especially through rural revitalization. The rural revitalization on which China is embarking demonstrates the country's strategic focus on building sustainable rural livelihood and addressing the inequalities of society.
These are consistent with our efforts on the SDGs and the principle of “Leave No One Behind” in this “Decade of Action”. It highlights the promise of building an inclusive society and caring for the most vulnerable. We firmly believe that only by dealing with the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development in an integrated manner can these goals be achieved.
In line with the concept of Leave No One Behind, the pursuit of rural revitalization shows that China recognizes the existing imbalance in urban and rural development, and the need to rectify it.
The average income in rural areas is almost three times less than that in urban areas, and only about 40 percent of the active population in rural areas can find an employment opportunity for a period of more than six months locally. The development of rural areas is crucial to address the imbalance between urban and rural areas.
Challenges remain in many areas such as the infrastructure, technology, environmental and existing pollution problems, etc. This will require a concerted effort of market-based mechanisms and enhanced capacity building in technology to promote new rural businesses, in less developed areas and for older and less educated rural inhabitants.
As outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, the UN in China has embarked on a new cycle of cooperation with the Government and people of China to achieve the SDGs and Leave No One Behind through more climate-resilient and innovative solutions.
The UN in China is focusing on green agricultural development, rural industrial development, strengthened rural ecological protection, and rural digitalization to boost rural incomes, support the creation of new rural businesses, improve the rural environment, and increased financial support for consolidating agricultural production capacity.
FAO recently launched the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which is evidence-based, country-led and country-owned initiative to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development to eradicate poverty and end hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
We also launched a UN Women’s flagship project in 2019 that strengthened women famers’ income security and resilience in our changing climate by training over 55,000 rural women in Qinghai, while supporting new women-led cooperatives.
Innovation has always been at the centre of our approaches. The UN is promoting technological innovation, accelerating the upgrading of traditional industries, and boosting the real green economy by fostering new growth areas and drivers through research, development and international cooperation, especially in distant areas and addressing the most vulnerable groups.
In 2020, UNIDO continued implementing a project in Chengbu County, remote area of Hunan Province, that integrated new production technology and equipment into local dairy enterprises, helping enhance local industrial production and processing capacity in the dairy, bamboo and handicraft sectors.
The UN is also committed to supporting small and medium enterprises, helping them promote innovation, apply advances in science and technology, improve internal management and working conditions, and promote inclusive growth. UNDP conducted customized trainings in three least developed counties and regions in China to bridge the digital divide, leverage digital platforms and assist micro, small, and medium enterprises to use proper tools to digitalize their businesses in partnership with social enterprises.
We greatly encourage and value the cooperation with the SOEs and private sector and the establishment of public-private partnerships (PPP). Through mutual sharing of technologies and best practices, the UN promotes joint efforts to the scaling up of international investment and financing to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
The UN in China is facilitating China’s global engagement through South-South Cooperation and its international initiatives, such as the BRI, to achieve the SDGs globally. Since the establishment of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, UN agencies have worked closely with this innovative model of Chinese foreign aid to implement a large number of impressive development and humanitarian projects in an effective, efficient and sustainable manner.
photo credit: @Xinhua
With the support of the Chinese Government and other stakeholders, the UN in China is envisaging to develop new partnerships to promote South-South Cooperation and accelerate the SDGs. We are currently planning the establishment of an applied research center on African development with leading universities from US, China, Africa and Europe, as well as the SDG Partnership Platform with African countries on rural revitalization and food system transformation.
I can talk from experiences when I worked in Africa developing partnerships between the UN, the Government of Kenya, and businesses including technology companies Huawei from China and Safaricom from Kenya as well as Merck USA, Philips from the Netherland, GSK from the UK, reduced maternal mortality in some of the highest burden counties and more recently Huawei, the UN and the Government of Kenya have implemented telemedicine projects which are now being scaled up nationwide, and these projects can be replicated globally.
More than ever, international organizations like the United Nations need to convene, connect and catalyze creatively the ideas, networks, and capabilities of governments, civil society, and the private sector for effective global problem-solving.
Through our focus on people and prosperity, planet, and partnerships, the UN system in China is wholly committed to assisting China’s development priorities and ready to contribute to the next phase of the country’s high-quality development agenda with a view to leave no one behind.
I will stop here and wish every success to the 2021 Forum on National Affairs.