Article by Ambassador Liu Yantao on Global Development Initiative
We live in a time when the world is beset by global changes and a pandemic unseen in a century. The deficits in peace, development, trust, and governance are very prominent. In particular, development has become the most pressing issue facing countries around the world. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report 2021 released by the United Nations (UN) shows that the pandemic has severely hampered efforts to achieve the SDGs. UN Secretary General António Guterres recently called on the international community on various occasions to rescue the SDGs, to step up efforts to bring them back on track. He said that we must rise higher to rescue the SDGs and make it our highest common priority.
Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, calling on the international community to accelerate implementation of the 2030 SDGs for stronger, greener and healthier global development and to foster a global community of development with a shared future. The priority areas for cooperation include poverty alleviation, food security, Covid-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialisation, digital economy and connectivity. Over six months since the GDI was proposed, more than 100 countries have expressed support and 55 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the GDI in the UN. Many countries have begun to cooperate on strengthening policy dialogue, sharing good practices, and promoting practical cooperation, which has gained early harvest. On May 9, 2022, the High-level Virtual Meeting of the Group of Friends of GDI on Deepening Cooperation under GDI for Accelerated Implementation of the 2030 Agenda was held at the UN Headquarters in New York. More than 150 representatives from over 60 countries attended the meeting, including UNSG Guterres and high-level government officials from different countries. The participants applauded China’s leading role in promoting the implementation of the SDGs, and conducted in-depth exchanges with the UN development agencies on practical cooperation under the GDI framework, looking forward to working with the group members to deepen cooperation in priority areas and contribute to global development. The increasing attraction of GDI can be mainly attributed to three aspects:
First, the GDI has sublimated the concept of development. It upholds the core concept of a people-centered approach, and takes the improvement of people’s livelihood and the achievement of all-round development of people as the starting and end point. It advocates that people all over the world have the right to pursue and live a better life, facilitates accelerated development of developing countries – particularly the vulnerable ones facing exceptional difficulties and supports the common development of vulnerable groups within a country. It encourages all countries in the world to achieve sustainable development while actively addressing challenges such as the digital divide, climate change and growth traps, without leaving a single country behind. Embedded in the spirit of true multilateralism, the GDI opposes the politicisation and marginalisation of the development issue, and supports all countries in the world to find a development path that best suits them based on their own national conditions. The GDI firmly safeguards the international system with the UN as its core, unswervingly supports the overall coordination role of the UN in the process of sustainable development, and advocates to jointly practice the global governance concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
Second, the GDI has created a consensus on development. The practice of various countries tells us that development is the foundation and key to solving all problems. Currently, the world economic recovery has suffered setbacks, the development gap between the North and the South has widened, and the momentum of development cooperation has weakened. In particular, regional conflicts have exacerbated worldwide energy and food crises. The GDI puts sustainable development atop the international cooperation agenda, in line with the strong expectation of all stakeholders for sustainable development. At the recent Jakarta Forum on China-ASEAN Relations 2022, ASEAN countries agreed that the prolonged pandemic and the turbulent international situation have further delayed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It is necessary for the international community to strengthen coordination for joint responses. Strengthening the strategic alignment of the GDI with the vision of the ASEAN Community will also help build the ASEAN Community and inject new impetus into the process of regional integration. More and more facts have proved that the GDI responds to the call of the times, meets the needs of various countries, and reflects the world trend as well as peoples’ aspiration.
Third, the GDI has coordinated the resources for development. It echoes the key directions of the 17 SDGs, tackles the most urgent challenges in global development, and provides useful platforms for all parties to match development needs and conduct project-based cooperation. The GDI facilitates the sharing and exchanges of development experiences among developed and developing countries so as to create synergy for coordinated global development. To achieve the SDGs, the UN has launched in recent years multiple processes that involve regional and sub-regional mechanisms and UN development agencies. The GDI focuses on coordinated development at the global, regional and national levels to generate a multiplier effect, and encourages international organisations, governments, business, academia and civil societies to play their roles to strike up the symphony for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
China is a champion for global development, and more so a country of action on development cooperation. In the future, the GDI will focus on four key aspects to deliver more concrete results: coping with global crises, promoting the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda, working to deepen South-South cooperation, and tapping the potential of development resources. China will take multipronged measures to implement the GDI, such as holding a high-level conference on global development, increasing investment in resources for development, enhancing support for the China-UN Peace and Development Fund, establishing a GDI project database, releasing the GDI Report, promoting international exchange and sharing of development know-how.
Currently Cyprus is at a crucial juncture of economic recovery, transformation and development. The country promotes development strategies including Cyprus Tomorrow and Vision 2035, and is taking concrete steps in the areas of green digital transformation, economic competitiveness reshaping, and health system reform. Meanwhile, it also faces many challenges such as sustainable growth, energy, climate change, poverty reduction, and illegal immigration. In the Joint Statement on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership between China and Cyprus in 2021, the two countries proposed to “promote cooperation in various important areas in the agenda of the UN including poverty alleviation, fight against Covid-19, climate change, etc., and add incentives to expediting the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and achieving stronger, greener and healthier global development”. China stands ready to work with Cyprus under the framework of strategic partnership and the GDI, to further enhance the alignment of development strategies of the two countries, deepen cooperation in jointly building the Belt and Road in particular the green, digital, health and innovative Silk Roads. The two countries will give full play to their respective advantages, expand cooperation across the board, and strive for common development and prosperity, and embrace a brighter future. Together we will contribute ChinPrus (a coined word of China and Cyprus) strength to the implementation of 2030 Agenda and the global development.