The Sustainable Development Goals in China
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in China:
12 September 2022
United We Stand to Achieve Sustainable Development
The world today faces a future that is in peril. Our challenges have become more complex and interconnected, as we see the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, an uneven economic recovery, a climate emergency, growing inequalities, and an increase in conflicts globally. This year also marks a grim milestone, with over 100 million people forcibly displaced. These events accompany increasing division in the community of nations which threatens to push the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) further out of reach for the Global South. Adding to these crises, rising food and energy prices driven by the conflict in Ukraine, could push 71 million people into poverty, according to UNDP. The Global South, typically comprised of countries in South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania, was already grappling with economic issues now exacerbated by the triple planetary crisis. With limited resources, high vulnerability, and low resilience, people in the Global South will bear the brunt of our inaction, on climate and elsewhere. Solely depending on external aid from the Global North or G7 countries cannot be the panacea. Here, countries of the Global South can empower themselves and combine efforts to achieve sustainable development. Cooperating to catalyse change In the face of global threats, international cooperation remains vital, as highlighted by the International Day for South-South Cooperation. South-South cooperation seeks to complement traditional development models by throwing light on the transformations needed to deliver on priorities, including the SDGs. It offers possible solutions from Global South to Global South. Countries of the Global South have contributed to more than half of global economic growth in recent times. Intra-South trade is higher than ever, accounting for over a quarter of world trade. It is time to further leverage these partnerships in the development space. We already saw this while many countries were trying to obtain COVID-19 vaccines. Citizens of low and middle-income countries faced systemic discrimination in the global COVID-19 response, leaving millions without access to vaccines, tests, and treatments. India sent over 254.4 million vaccine supplies to nations across the world, under Vaccine Maitri – a vaccine export initiative. Likewise, China has supplied over 200 million doses of vaccines to the COVAX Facility, in addition to providing millions of dollars in medical supplies to countries in the Global South, including in Africa, throughout the pandemic. Informing partnership models with Africa & China To advance development priorities, partnerships need to be rooted in shared interests that can lead to shared gains, as seen in traditional development models and assistance from the Global North. This dynamic needs to be at the core of the China-Africa relationship as well. China, an economic powerhouse, has the potential to advance development in the Global South, especially in Africa, by bringing its experience, expertise, and resources to bear, and its assistance must advance both its interests and those of the countries where it operates. Investments in shared goals are reflected in efforts by China to improve public health in Africa, including in the construction of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Ethiopia, and in clean energy, through projects such as the Kafue Lower Gorge Power Station in Zambia. China promises to invest US$60 billion cumulatively in Africa by 2035, directed at agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, environmental protection, and the digital economy. This is most welcome, and those planned investments must answer the needs of the local economies and societies. What works in one country may not work elsewhere, but true collaboration allows for learning from mistakes and sharing successes. This is where the UN’s expertise can ensure cooperation is demand-driven, in line with local expectations and needs, national development priorities, and relevant international norms and standards. Platforms like the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) can work to improve that essential partnership. This mechanism has identified shared priorities like climate change, agriculture/food systems, global health, and energy security, among others, between China and Africa. For the first time in FOCAC’s history and with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the UN in China is engaged as a strategic partner in this bilateral mechanism between China and Africa. The UN in China is continuing similar efforts in close consultation with relevant counterparts, including the China International Development Cooperation Agency. For The Rockefeller Foundation, it is a nod to its legacy in China dating back to 1914, rooted in redesigning medical education to improve healthcare and its current priorities to advance Global South collaboration, especially in public health, food, and clean energy access—all global public goods. Beyond the Global South: Action Together With less than eight years to achieve the SDGs, truly international cooperation is our only hope. Emerging trends in technology and innovation can get us there, along with enhanced South-South cooperation efforts. But doing so requires us to “flip the orthodoxy”, as UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed advised. The Ebola crisis is an example of where global cooperation, including South-South cooperation, enabled Sierra Leone to defeat the disease’s spread, notably through a brigade of 461 health workers sent to Sierra Leone to support their overburdened system. Later, other countries made similar efforts to support Sierra Leone and nearby countries, such as Guinea and Liberia. This example shows the potential of South-South cooperation, but also triangular cooperation and North-South partnerships. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are another mechanism for financing and capacity building. This can be seen in Kenya, where the Government and the UN System convened an SDG Partnership Platform with companies such as Philips, Huawei, Safaricom, GSK, and Merck. The outcomes include a downward trend of maternal and child mortality in some of the country’s most remote regions. Similar PPPs can hold promise in unlocking global progress on the SDGs. Today, while we face a more volatile world, the spirit of South-South cooperation shows a core value that we need: solidarity. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth - if we leave anyone behind, we leave everyone behind”. Deepali Khanna is Vice-President of the Asia Region Office at The Rockefeller Foundation. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China.
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22 April 2022
UN Volunteers ease accessibility to sexual and reproductive health
With an objective to eradicate poverty and achieve universal access in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), UNFPA, National Health Commission (NHC), and China Family Planning Association (CFPA) launched a 3-year project. This project aims to improve the SRHR among vulnerable populations in Qinghai and Shanxi Provinces in China. The project mainly targets women and young people of ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups such as those below the poverty line, rural residents, and persons with disabilities. Among this group are the ones in three project sites at an altitude of over 4000 meters including Yushu City, which was heavily impacted by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2010. Aimin, a national UN Volunteer Project Coordinator, has worked on this project since 2019. She supports programme management in planning, management, reporting, and coordination with various stakeholders. One aspect of the project aims to improve the capacity of local service providers – including midwives – so that local women and young people can access better information and quality health services. "I am now more confident with my skills for providing quality care, and more women are willing to deliver in our hospital." - Cairen Sangji, one of the nine midwives who received a 3-month standardized midwifery training at Huaxi Medical University in 2020 So far, over 600 local service providers, health workers, and teachers have benefited from the capacity building and skill development training. After going back to their communities, these skills are not only empowering midwives but also making maternity care safe and respectful. Aimin and her colleagues discovered that young people in project sites shared similar needs for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) but had limited access. Many factors contributed to this limitation – scarcely qualified teachers, less awareness, and cultural norms influenced people’s attitudes towards CSE. Last year, over 1000 students who attended the CSE courses learned about the different aspects of sexual education – how to develop respectful social and sexual relationships, and where to turn for more information. It was a first for many – adults and adolescents – in Shanxi Province's Yushu and Yonghe project sites to get an education in CSE and hear experiences through seminars, workshops, and learning sessions. Coming from an under-developed area in a remote province of Mongolia, Aimin feels fortunate to participate in a project that brings healthier living conditions for all. She is motivated to make a difference in people's lives, especially the ones who are coming from a similar background as her. "Aimin has demonstrated a high level of initiative, organizational ability, and flexibility. She is a confident and direct communicator.” - WEN Hua, Programme Specialist, UNFPA
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19 July 2021
Happy 50th anniversary: What China and the UN can achieve together
China was one of the architects of the United Nations and was the first signatory of the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945. But it was only in October 1971, with the Chinese delegation led by Mr. Qiao Guanhua, that China's representation at the UN resumed. Since that time, the UN has had the great privilege of witnessing and supporting China in achieving one of the greatest periods of socio-economic progress in world history. Now, on the 50th anniversary of the UN in China, I am honored to serve as the UN Resident Coordinator, a post I took earlier this year. While I am a recent arrival to China, only just beginning to understand its rich tapestry of over 5,000 years of civilization, the UN in China has had the privilege to shape and witness the profound economic and social transformations that have occurred since reform and opening-up. As we commemorate a half-century of cooperation, a question naturally emerges: Which way now for the UN and China? This is a weighty question, as China and the world are at a critical juncture. Tentatively emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, but with many countries still struggling terribly. Staring down the threats of climate change, with record-setting heat, fires, storms, and other disasters. Counting down the years in this "Decade of Action" to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. China's standard-setting leadership in past decades gives me confidence that we can achieve even greater things in the years to come. China's record-breaking economic development In 1978, Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up policy began to transform the nation, as evidenced, for example, in Shenzhen, which changed from a fishing village on the Pearl River Delta into an international hub for research and innovation in a single generation. And in 1979, China chose to accept development assistance from the UN, learning from its long experience in poverty alleviation and industrial and agricultural growth. China's success in the more than 40 years since then has been nothing short of miraculous. During this time, China: Lifted over 750 million people out of absolute poverty; Invested in public health and education, investing in human capital thus making possible a happier and healthier workforce that contributed to economic productivity; Became the world's manufacturing centre, based on a growth model of foreign investments, resource-intensive manufacturing, cheap labour, and exports; Multiplied its per capita GDP from $180 in 1979 to an incredible $12,000 today. The signs of this progress are evident not just in statistics, but in daily quality-of-life matters. Throughout China now lie the classic hallmarks of a market economy, with opulent shops from luxury brands, foreign and domestic. A far cry from what I saw as a young boy growing up near Chinatown in my native Kolkata, India, though fondly remembered as a warren of alleys, narrow aisles of food markets, elderly men playing board games in parks, with Chinese characters on the signs overhead. For example, in Beijing during the early 1980s, cabbage was often the only vegetable on menus. With help from the UN's development agency in China, availability at markets expanded - supporting the diversification of domestic vegetables and introducing new ones from abroad, such as broccoli. This startling success is on track to continue. China's per capita GDP is projected to more than double by 2025, reaching over $25,000, adjusted for purchasing power. The country's surging economy is set to overtake 56 countries in the world's per-capita income rankings during the quarter-century through 2025, the International Monetary Fund projects. No less an authority than Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a United Nations SDG Advocate and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, has called China an "inspiration" in stopping the pandemic and ending poverty. This progress is all the more remarkable considering the hit that the pandemic has delivered to the global economy. China's generosity and leadership on this front are commendable. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the 9th World Peace Forum in Beijing "to build a 'Great Wall of Immunity' to battle the COVID-19 pandemic." Still, challenges remain. As with any economy at this stage of development, the relentless pursuit of high growth is reaching its natural limits, and China faces new economic, social, and environmental challenges. New priorities for agenda 2030 and beyond The UN Sustainable Development Goals are meant to be achieved by the year 2030, and we are now in what is called "the Decade of Action." I see three areas for close cooperation at this critical juncture. First, a new sustainable development model. The Government recognizes slower economic growth as the "new normal." Changing demographic, labour, and investment realities present China with new obstacles in addressing food security, pervasive inequalities, and cost-effectiveness in universal healthcare. In a post-Xiaokang society, China needs to embrace innovations and services that drive equitable and inclusive progress, dealing with the legacies of rapid expansion to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Second, climate change. As a consequence of its large population and economy, China is the world's single largest emitter of carbon dioxide, responsible for a quarter of global emissions. Having recognized the environmental costs of this development model, President Xi Jinping has set a bold ambition for China to hit peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. This enormous feat will require a massive transition in how China's economy works and its population lives every day. Seismic shifts in investments and technologies will be needed. Third, multilateralism. China is a champion for multilateral efforts to address global challenges. China has the will, knowledge, and resources to contribute enormously to the Sustainable Development Goals and position itself as an exceptional member of the community of nations. Today, China is the second-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and has sent more peacekeepers to UN missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council. China also played a vital role in shaping the consensus needed for the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. Future efforts should emphasize initiatives that expand vaccine access, grant debt relief to lower-income countries, and provide sustainable financing for infrastructure and climate efforts. China and the United Nations The United Nations family in China is in lockstep with China's vision. The 2030 Agenda and the recently agreed-upon Country Framework are the blueprints for building on the gains of the past. In this Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs, the UN can support this ambition and convene, connect and catalyze stakeholders in leveraging China's development experience to benefit other countries, especially those in Africa, in the spirit of South-South Cooperation. As the world deals with the pandemic, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres says, "As we strive to respond and recover, we must re-examine many longstanding assumptions and reconsider the approaches that have led us astray. We must also re-imagine the way nations cooperate. The pandemic has underscored the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism." This October will also be time for the UN and China to celebrate our 50-year relationship. China and the UN will re-imagine, innovate, reinvigorate and continue the hard and daily work and dedicate ourselves anew to creating lasting prosperity for the people of China and all the world.
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11 June 2021
UNU Macau Calls for Multistakeholder Partnerships to Advance the Sustainable Development Goals in Macau and the Greater Bay Area
MACAU, 17 May 2021 – In celebration of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, United Nations University Institute in Macau (UNU Macau), the only UN organization in Macau, brought together government, academia, private sector, and NGOs to share their experiences in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), examine the SDGs’ roles in Macau’s strategic development plan, and explore collaborative opportunities particularly in the areas of digital technologies for the SDGs. The Summit was opened by the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in China, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, who represented a delegation of colleagues from UN China in attendance, including UNDP, UNICEF, UNIDO-ITPO, UNOPS and emphasized the UN’s commitment in supporting all stakeholders in safeguarding the progress made and efforts to achieve the SDGs. “To leave no one behind, no communities behind, no village behind, there is a need for collaboration and a renewal of multilateralism. Most importantly we must embrace science, technology, and innovation while bringing together the private sector, academia, governments, civil society, the UN families towards a single agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China. Even in the pre-pandemic era, we were not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and COVID-19 has worsened the situation, thereby erasing years of social-economic progress. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, an estimated 71 million people globally were expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty and the persisting digital divide meant remote learning remained out of reach for students who lack access to computers and the internet. “There has never been a greater need for multi-stakeholder partnerships than right now when COVID-19 has reversed decades of progress on poverty reduction, healthcare, and education and left the most vulnerable further behind. Everyone in Macau has a key role to play in this Decade of Action towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I am elated to learn about the innovative and sustainable solutions that our partners have been implementing in Macau: from eliminating single-use plastics and enhancing the cyber resilience of citizens to improving social services and capacity building initiatives. To tackle the impacts of COVID-19 on development progress and build back better, we need to collectively leverage digital technologies while addressing the potential risks and adverse effects,” said Dr. Jingbo Huang, Director of UNU Macau. Through this summit, UNU Macau hopes to raise awareness about the SDGs and celebrate successes as well as learn from the challenges in implementing the SDGs in Macau. Topics discussed at the summit revolved around the five Ps of the SDGs: People, Prosperity, Peace, Partnerships and Planet. UNU Macau has been working with civil society, academic and private sector partners in Macau on strategic projects that promote policy as well as practice-relevant research and capacity building activities in the fields of sustainable community development, social innovation, and civil society cyber resilience. One of our main research projects, the Smart City-zen Cyber Resilience project, funded by the Science and Technology Development Fund (FDCT), aims to enhance the cyber resilience of citizens in Macau and around the world as well as involve civil society actors in local preparations against cybersecurity threats. This project was designed to help accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Macau’s development plans. ### For media enquiries, please contact: UNU Macau: Tarinee Youkhaw, Communications Manager, UNU Macau at email@example.com About United Nations University Institute in Macau The United Nations University Institute in Macau (UNU Macau), formerly publicly known as United Nations University International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST), is a UN global think tank on Information Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). UNU Macau conducts UN policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing key issues expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and frontier technologies. Through its research, UNU Macau encourages data-driven and evidence-based actions and policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
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