|Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the Launch Meeting of the Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative
Colleagues from UN Agencies,
Good morning. Welcome to the Launch Meeting of the Group of Friends of Global Development Initiative. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support for the Initiative and the Group.
Last September, at the General Debate of the 76th session of UNGA, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative, calling for greater international synergy to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and achieve stronger, greener and healthier global development.
As we speak, the world today is faced with many grave challenges. We are witnessing profound changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. The wealth gap, recovery gap, development gap and immunity gap keep widening. Global development is under severe impact. The pandemic has left many countries, especially developing countries, high and dry. People of all countries are eager to get back onto the right track of sustainable development.
Against this backdrop, the GDI proposed by President Xi aims at addressing the pressing challenges facing all countries, especially developing ones. And it is committed to practicing true multilateralism, putting people front and center, fully implementing the 2030 Agenda, and realizing the aspiration of all people for a better life. The Initiative is undoubtedly highly relevant and has a far-reaching impact.
Ever since its introduction, the Initiative has been warmly received by the international community. Nearly 100 countries and many international organizations, including the UN, have expressed their support. This shows that the Initiative is in line with the prevailing trend of global development, and the common aspiration of the international community to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. We look forward to working with all parties to implement the GDI, together seize opportunities and meet challenges, in order to achieve the following four goals.
First, re-prioritizing development. Development holds the master key to all problems. Recent years have witnessed setbacks in global development, and widening wealth gap and increasing inequality among and within countries. The pandemic has further eroded the global poverty reduction gains in the past decade, one hundred and forty million people falling back into poverty, the number of people living in hunger reaching eight hundred million. We are also facing food security, energy security, climate change and other prominent issues. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is confronted with serious challenges. Against such backdrop, the GDI adheres to the people-centered philosophy, prioritizes development, and promotes the international community to place development at the core of the global macro policy framework. I’m sure it will provide stronger and more targeted support to developing countries, making sure no one is left behind.
It is important to note that the Initiative, with development as its priority and commitment to people-centered development, aims to protect and promote human rights through development, especially the right to subsistence and development of all people, including women, children and other vulnerable groups. It will surely make important contribution to the international human rights cause.
Second, renewing commitments to SDGs. Since the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, progress in the 17 SDGs has fallen short of expectations. The current COVID-19 response has further diverted resources from countries’ national development. There have been widespread concerns in the international community, that the SDGs might not be achieved on schedule with the current pace. The GDI calls on all parties to strengthen political commitment to SDGs, starting with addressing the most pressing issues facing developing countries. With poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and connectivity as priority areas, the Initiative will serve as an engine to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
It is important to note that the eight priority areas of the Initiative are not selective in SDGs implementation, but rather, these priority areas will lead to the achievement of all 17 SDGs, and make positive contribution to the overall achievement of the SDGs.
Third, revitalizing global partnership. For quite some time, unilateralism and protectionism have been on the rise. This, together with the resurgent Cold-War mentality and the clamoring for “decoupling”, has caused widespread concern in the international community. The GDI upholds the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. It is open to all countries, and welcomes the participation of governments, businesses, academia and civil society. It will promote consensus building and synergy in the UN and other multilateral cooperation processes, and strengthen the global partnership for development. China is ready to strengthen strategic alignment with all parties, heed useful suggestions, closely match the needs of developing countries, and join hands to address global challenges. In doing so, we will inject fresh momentum for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
It is important to note that the Initiative is a platform for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation. All like-minded countries and stakeholders committed to global partnership are welcome to join the Initiative. It is open and inclusive, and will not create any kind of small circles.
Fourth, reactivating development cooperation. For many years, international development cooperation has faced a huge funding gap. The ODA commitments have been poorly implemented, and the 100 billion US dollars of climate finance target has long been delayed. The impact of COVID-19 has put international development cooperation in an even more critical situation. The action-oriented GDI calls for mobilizing more international resources to offer concrete support for global development, especially priority targets of developing countries. The Initiative is ready to align itself with AU’s Agenda 2063, ASEAN 2025, 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, as well as development strategies of SIDS, LLDCs and LDCs. In doing so, it will help boost North-South cooperation, South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation. China will allocate more of its own development cooperation resources to the Initiative, and undertake high-quality cooperation projects, so that people from different countries can really benefit from such cooperation.
It is important to note that the Initiative follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and is results-oriented. China will work closely with other countries, the UN, and relevant international and regional organizations to pool our strength together, for win-win cooperation and common development.
The Group of Friends is a step to respond to the interests and expectations from all parties, and to further materialize and institutionalize the Initiative for practical outcomes. The aim is to seek greater complementarity between the Initiative and the 2030 Agenda, support UN’s work in the field of development, and help developing countries fight the pandemic and implement the 2030 Agenda. We propose that the Group of Friends focus its work in the following three areas.
First is to strengthen policy dialogue. We could strengthen communication on the UN development agenda, national development priorities and multilateral development cooperation, and explore how the Initiative can dovetail with other national, regional and global initiatives for greater synergy.
Second is to share best practices. We could exchange useful experience and measures related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and specific SDGs, so as to jointly promote post-pandemic recovery and sustainable development.
Third is to promote practical cooperation. We could make good use of such mechanisms as the Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Fund, which are funded by China, as well as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-CELAC Forum, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and other platforms, to launch practical cooperation projects and strive for early harvest.
Many Member States have already confirmed to join the Group, and we look forward to more countries joining us. We are considering holding follow up ambassadorial-level meetings as well as thematic meetings on specific issues in the field of development in the coming days. The membership, organizational structure, and cooperation areas and projects can be determined through joint consultations among group members. We look forward to working with all parties to continuously improve the Group’s mechanism and deepen cooperation in key areas, so that we can together build the Group into an effective platform for exchanging experience, enhancing cooperation and seeking common development.
All of you have fully recognized the significance of the Initiative to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and also put forward very good suggestions for the future work of the Group. All these have made us feel more confident in the development of this Group of Friends. We will carefully study your opinions and take them on board, and we welcome your valuable suggestions after the meeting.
2021 was a special year for China. We have lifted out of poverty all rural residents living below the current poverty line, and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, making a fundamental change from poverty and backwardness. We have met the SDG on poverty reduction ten years ahead of schedule, contributing over 70 percent to global efforts in this regard.
2021 was the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization. We remain committed to continued reform and opening-up, and have fully fulfilled our WTO accession commitments and kept deepening business ties with other countries. According to the latest data, China's economy grew by 8.1 percent in 2021, and the total value of trade in goods for the first time exceeded 6 trillion US dollars. China will continue its important role as an engine for global economic recovery.
2021 also marked the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the UN. Over the past 50 years, China has conducted in-depth South-South cooperation. We have helped more than 160 developing countries implement thousands of package projects and in-kind assistance projects, over 10,000 technical cooperation and human resource development projects, and helped them train more than 400,000 personnel, making important contribution to global development. Amid the pandemic, China was the first to pledge to make its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good. To date, we have provided nearly 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, more than any other country in the world.
We firmly believe that China’s development and the world’s development are inseparable and mutually reinforcing. The introduction and implementation of the Global Development Initiative will open a new chapter for China to deepen South-South cooperation and promote common development for all countries.
The official launch of the Group of Friends today is just the first step in our work. In the new year, we hope to work with other Group members to closely integrate the implementation of the Initiative with the UN development agenda through thematic activities and exchanges, and help countries achieve common, transformative and green development.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again invite all countries to join the Group. Together, we will engage in extensive exchanges and cooperation, to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for the benefit of all people, and to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
In ten days, we will celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Tiger. I wish all of you, my dear colleagues and friends, a very peaceful and prosperous Year of the Tiger. Thank you again for attending the first meeting of the Group of Friends, and we look forward to meeting again next time.