UNDAF Launch Ceremony and Dialogue on the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in China

UNDAF Launch Ceremony and Dialogue on the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in China
12 January 2016, Beijing

By Mr. Alain Noudéhou
UN Resident Coordinator

Honorable Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of Commerce,

Distinguished guests and partners,

Colleagues from the United Nations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the United Nations Country Team in China, it is a great pleasure to welcome you all today for the launch of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (the UNDAF) for the People’s Republic of China.

The UNDAF, which covers the period 2016-2020, represents a renewed commitment to continue the strong partnership between China and the UN System. It provides a strategic direction that will guide the UNCT’s contributions towards China’s development priorities and the 13th Five-Year Plan - in the overall context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is also worth noting that the new UNDAF is starting at a unique moment in history. 2016 is the year in which China will approve and begin work on its new 13th Five Year Plan - a plan that promises critical reforms for a more harmonious, ecological and equitable development. This will take place in the framework of two key global agreements that are also set to start implementation in 2016: The 2030 Agendas for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change through which the global community has pledged to end poverty, achieve shared prosperity and peace, protect our planet and address the challenges of climate change.

China’s commitments and leadership have been critical in reaching these agreements which will inform both the UNDAF and the 13th FYP in the coming 5 years.

Before I go any further, allow me at this stage to express my sincere gratitude to Vice Minister Wang for his leadership role in the development of the UNDAF and also for attending today’s special occasion. I want to also express great appreciation to our various counterparts in Ministries and relevant Government entities for their cooperation and their substantive inputs in formulating the UNDAF. In particular, our gratitude goes to colleagues at MOFCOM who have worked diligently and effectively to coordinate the UNDAF consultations on behalf of the Government.

I would like to thank my colleagues in the UN System who have worked hard with dedication and commitment to make this UNDAF more innovative and strategic with a sharper focus on UN’s core comparative advantages. I take the opportunity today to also welcome our partners of the diplomatic corps, think thanks, civil society and media who are invaluable supporters of the UN’s work in China and share our aspirations for a peaceful and a better world for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UNDAF is signed by 25 resident and non-resident UN entities and outlines UN’s collective response in three priority areas: Poverty Reduction and Equitable Development, Improved and Sustainable Environment; and Enhanced Global Engagement.

These three areas are well in line with China’s domestic development agenda and the proposed development priorities of China’s 13th Five Year Plan.

In each of the three priority areas, particular focus will be placed on underlying challenges posed by inequality, rapid urbanization and demographic changes; and environmental degradation. In the process, we will work with partners to find solutions to support the vulnerable populations who are in most need of assistance.  We will support China’s efforts drawing on our extensive repository of expertise, our strength in working with all levels of government, our access to global knowledge networks, and our capacity to act as an impartial convener for dialogue.

Let me now pause for a moment to look back at the long-standing partnership between the UN System and China. Over the past 37 years, UN Agencies have supported and witnessed phenomenal development changes in China.   The fast pace of progress, especially in the last decade, has required the UNCT to continuously adapt and reposition itself to remain effective.

Today, the way we are engaged in China is different from what we were doing back in the 80’s or in the 90s. As part of the new UNDAF, our cooperation methods are adapted to reflect the dynamic development context in the country.  We will engage with policy advisory services, innovative pilot initiatives, technical assistance, and support for China to meet its normative and other global commitments. This adjusted approach reflects the UN’s commitment to offer agile, cost-effective and new solutions in accordance with our context of cooperation.

With this background, allow me to give three examples of how the UNCT could contribute to China’s development in the three UNDAF priority areas.

First, as we are all aware, the Government has set itself the ambitious target of lifting more than 70 million people out of poverty by 2020, meeting SDG 1 well ahead of time of the 2030 target. This is a population size equivalent to countries like Turkey and Thailand. It will not be an easy task. It will require a complex and integrated set of targeted and cross-sectoral poverty alleviation solutions with attention to the most vulnerable groups.

With our 15 years of experience of supporting China on the MDGs, the UNCT is well placed to support China in meeting this new challenge. The diverse set of technical expertise and experience available at the UNCT in substantive areas such as health, social protection, education, labor & employment, agriculture and food security, nutrition, youth, women empowerment, local development planning, small business development, etc. will be brought to bear to provide integrated support to address the multidimensional aspects of poverty in China.

Second, the communiqué of the 5th plenum indicates the development of eco-civilization as one of the main pillars of the 13th five-year plan – highlighting the need to effectively address the environment degradation challenges faced by the country. Several domestic actions such as a new legislation to protect the environment and the upgrading of the country’s energy structure are very encouraging steps in the fight against environment degradation and the promotion of an ecological civilization.  .

Highlighted in specific goals in both the SDGs and in the UNDAF, climate change and protection of the environment will comprise a significant part of UN’s work in China in the five years to come. New partnerships between various UN agencies and relevant national actors to address the complex issues related to environment protection will be pursued.   We will build on successful actions to date, providing high-quality inputs into the strengthening of national policies, legislation and regulatory frameworks. For example, important policy work is already being made in areas of sustainable cities, air pollution and water assessments.  Catalytic pilots such as the mitigation and adaptation projects implemented under the Global Environment Facility will be continued.   Innovative public-partnerships on green finance with the China Central Bank on resource efficiency and climate change will also be further expanded.

Third, as a provider of assistance through south-south cooperation to over 120 countries, China has become an important player in the global development agenda. President Xi Jinping’s recent commitments to enhance China’s south-south cooperation with other developing countries in areas such as SDGs and climate change is a testament to China’s key role in the implementation of the new 2030 Agenda. Given the growing demands for peer-support from China to other developing countries, UN’s facilitation of China’s south-south cooperation has also been included as a priority area for engagement under the UNDAF.  The UN System in China will build on its position as a long-standing partner to support China’s engagement in south-south cooperation. With our extensive network and presence in most countries in the South, the UN is able to help identify real bottlenecks and facilitate the required capacity building needs for China’s south-south cooperation to be effectively implemented. Several countries in Africa and Asia have already benefitted from UN’s support in south-south exchanges with China in the areas of agriculture and food security, industrial development, health, renewable energy,  just to name a few.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As illustrated by these examples, our work in the coming years in support of China’s priorities and global development commitments will require an integrated approach to deal with many complex issues.  Innovation for ideas and new methods of engagement will be needed to find solutions.  For this, your continued support and partnership will be critical.

The dialogue on the UNDAF and the SDGs that will follow this launch presents an opportunity to further share views on how we could collectively engage to seek effective results.

In conclusion, I want to recognize again the excellent collaboration between the Government and the UN System in China. At the UNCT, we remain committed and look forward to working together with the Government of China and other national and international partners for the benefit of all Chinese people.

Thank you very much for your attention.
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