Global Development Initiative Cooperation towards Accelerated Implementation of the 2030 Agenda Workshop
09 December 2021
Remarks by Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China
The UN in China welcomes the opportunity to start the conversation on such an important initiative of the People’s Republic of China. It has the potential to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals globally in this Decade of Action, especially in view of the setbacks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN in China as your development partner stands ready to provide the best possible technical assistance and support to the Government of China to make this ambitious development initiative fully aligned to international norms and standards, as well as giving momentum to the SDGs. This is something I committed to do at the very start of my tenure as the UN Resident Coordinator to China.
Having served many years in Africa, I have seen first-hand the difference China is making. The UN system always welcomes any Member States’ initiative in support of internationally agreed agendas and wishes to work with China early in the development of the GDI to ensure that the initiative makes a real difference in the achievement of the SDGs.
I am confident we will make this happen. China has important lessons to share with the rest of the developing world on lifting over 750 million people out of abject poverty and leapfrog its socio-economic development which has been miraculous.
As my boss the UN Secretary General António Guterres has said to mark 50 years of China’s return to the United Nations, “The United Nations will remain a firm partner of the people and Government of China towards building a fairer and more sustainable future. As we look back on 50 years of China and the United Nations, let us look forward and work to ensure that China and the world make progress in our shared efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind”.
The question we wish to answer today is how the GDI can contribute to support the achievement of the SDGs, which has been the development priority of the international community since 2015. It will be critical for the Government of China to consult with potential GDI country partners, to make sure that the initiative responds to the need and priorities of its beneficiaries. The UN Development System can support China on this. With the UN Secretary General’s ambitious development system reforms, the UN Country Teams will provide the best possible technical assistance to their respective host countries where the GDI will be undertaken, as our UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks are fully aligned to the priorities of the host country.
The Concept Paper disseminated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this fall provides the broad contours of the initiative. We thank MFA for sharing this with us at its early stage of its preparations.
Much of what is reflected in the Concept Paper is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We welcome such an effort, especially the alignment of the eight GDI priorities with the SDGs, including in the areas of poverty eradication, food security, health, climate action, the planet, industrialization, innovation and means of implementation.
As custodians and guarantors of the 2030 Agenda, the UN also needs to underscore possible departures of the GDI from the international agreement. It is important to stress that the 2030 Agenda is one cohesive and integrated agenda, encompassing all three pillars of the UN system: peace and security, human rights, and development.
There is equal prioritization of all three pillars along with the principle of Leaving No One Behind, which should be specifically centered on the individual. On this point, President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the 2021 South-South Human Rights Forum, which opened in Beijing on Wednesday, where he said that human rights are a symbol of human civilization progress. He said putting people first and taking people's longing for a better life as the goal is the responsibility of all countries.
Important details for an initiative such as the GDI need to be further strengthened and articulated and we will help the Government do that. I welcome the opportunity of this workshop to clarify important aspects including clarify i) if the GDI is meant to include new activities and projects or if it is largely about framing existing efforts already underway; ii) what new and additional resources will be provided to GDI; and iii) what government entity will own the initiative, both in its conceptual and implementation phases.
We will soon hear from the Heads of the UN Agencies in China about important opportunities for the GDI to support and accelerate SDGs achievement. As the UN Resident Coordinator, I wish to point to a few here, and to bring the input of Agencies that have not been invited to speak but that are key to supporting China in realizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda.
First and foremost, gender. Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment is a pre-requisite to progress on all SDGs and targets. We are grateful to President Xi that at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Beijing+25 in 2020, said “more should be done to eliminate violence, discrimination, poverty and other old problems and to address new challenges such as bridging the gender digital divide, so as to make women-related targets early harvest results of the UN's 2030 Agenda.” He pledged China’s support to the UN in making women's development a priority. The GDI has the tremendous potential to do so and UN Women stands ready to support.
Second, jobs. Creating productive and quality jobs is the surest way for poverty alleviation. This is what China did in its own development trajectory. Africa for example is at the cusp of a demographic dividend but this will not be realized till nearly 12 million jobs are created every year for the next 10 to 15 years. Employment generation should be one of the key pillars of GDI’s poverty alleviation priority. In this respect, bringing the business community on board will be critical to GDI’s success, to raise awareness among State-owned companies and inspire them to take actions through GDI to accelerate the SDGs, both domestically and in their overseas investments. The UN Global Compact stands ready to support.
Respect for internationally recognized international labour standard is a key element for responsible management of global supply chains, for a fair multilateral trade system. ILO stands ready to support on this.
I also wish to underscore the opportunity for GDI to address specific development challenges faced by vulnerable populations, including migrants, refugees and people living with HIV/AIDS.
About migrants: I commend Ambassador Li Song’s remarks at the IOM’s Council last week urging member states “to work together towards the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and make migrants both contributors and beneficiaries of sustainable development”.
About refugees: by taking a comprehensive approach, the initiative can help to address the root causes of conflict, stabilise post-conflict situations and consolidate peace through sustainable return and reintegration of refugees and displaced people.
About people living with HIV/AIDS: the GDI provides the opportunity to further strengthen cooperation in all areas of prevention and control, promote comprehensive HIV prevention and its integration in the wider context of Universal Health Coverage.
Going forward, we offer to host the next workshop on the GDI at the UN Compound in Beijing, to build on today’s conversation and ensure GDI’s success in contributing to achieving the SDGs around the world. Meanwhile, we will also engage with the international community in Beijing to ensure that our role is fully understood and supported.
The UN in China stands ready to work hard and support the Government of China in your efforts through implementation of our UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2021-25.
Thank you, Excellency for this very important initiative.