Second CELAC-China Forum on Poverty Reduction and Development
13 July 2022
Remarks by Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China
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Mr. Xu Jianmin, Director-General of the General Affairs Department, National Rural Revitalization Administration of China,
Ms. Li Xin, Deputy Director-General of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China,
Distinguished representatives of countries from Latin America and the Caribbean,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the International Poverty Reduction Center in China for the invitation to address this Second CELAC-China Forum on Poverty Reduction and Development.
While separated by a vast ocean, China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States are brought closer by a network of trade routes and investments, of people and relationships.
But what brings these two regions together is the quintessential experience of the developing country: to fight poverty and pursue better living conditions.
China has been especially successful in such an endeavour. In 1979, when the UN first opened its office here, China’s GDP per capita was a meagre US$189. Within four decades, that number rose to over US$12,000. By 2020, over 750 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty.
While the record of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is varied, remarkable progress on the Sustainable Development Goals has been achieved, especially in protecting the environment, promoting health and well-being, pursuing sustainable sources of energy, and enhancing access to technology. After all, CELAC is the birthplace of Agenda 21, the Uruguay Round and the Rio Conferences, the foundations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
But daunting challenges remain, for both China and the CELAC countries.
Inequality, multidimensional poverty and urban-rural disparity still threaten the long-term sustainability of both regions, as do shifting demographics, growing unemployment, and pressing social issues.
These challenges are further exacerbated by a persisting pandemic, climate change, and growing conflicts.
Common challenges require common solutions. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message to the CELAC summit in 2021, “it is necessary to identify specific areas of collective response and proposals for multilateral solutions.”
This Forum can achieve just that.
We cannot understate the potential of strengthened China-CELAC collaboration: combined, the two regions account for one-third of world population and almost a quarter of its GDP. They enjoy a wealth of natural resources and human capital second to none. And their governments have the drive and ambition to turn such potential into reality.
The China-CELAC Joint Action Plan for Cooperation in Key Areas (2022-2024) agreed upon at the recent CELAC–China Ministerial meeting last December is a blueprint to unlock potential for enhanced collaboration in agriculture, rural revitalization, development financing, science and technology, infrastructure, and more.
As long-term development partners of both China and CELAC countries, the UN stands ready to provide its expertise, and share knowledge and best practices.
In 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme in China launched international development cooperation projects in 14 CELAC countries, in areas such as the COVID-19 response and food system transformations.
Every day, the UN team works to leverage China’s experience and bring it to bear for the benefit of other developing countries within the South-South Cooperation framework. We will continue to do so and contribute to a successful China–CELAC partnership, to realize the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
Ladies and gentleman,
As President Xi Jinping once said, "Being lifted out of poverty is not an end in itself, but the starting point of a new life and a new pursuit."
I commend the spirit of this event and look forward to its concrete outcomes.