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Address at the High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by H.E. Li Baodong Vice Foreign Minister and Chinese G20 Sherpa

2016/04/21

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I want to thank H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the General Assembly, for hosting this event.

Last September, the UN Sustainable Development Summit was successfully held. Leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, opening a new era for human development. The 2030 Agenda is a blueprint charting the course for future development and a commitment carrying significant weight. Attaining 17 goals and 169 targets is never an easy job. We need to act now to translate vision into action and get things started.

We need to champion win-win cooperation to create an enabling international environment for the implementation of the Agenda. Countries should uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, follow the trend of the times featuring peace and development, and work together to maintain regional and international stability and security to make development possible for all countries. It is important to remember that we are all in a community of shared interests, and we need to increase the representation and voice of developing countries in global economic governance, improve multilateral trading and investment systems, and help developing countries integrate into global value chains and benefit from globalization through their own comparative advantages.

We need to follow voluntarism and uphold the basic principles in the implementation of the Agenda. Sustainable development is the goal we all share, but there is more than one way to achieve it. The international community should allow countries to act in the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and formulate development strategies of their own based on national circumstances and development capabilities, so that domestic development and international development agenda will fit. Follow-up and review is crucial, and the principles established by the 2030 Agenda must be honored. National reviews shall be initiated and led by countries, and country-specific experience sharing shall be conducted in a constructive manner.

We need to encourage full participation to form synergy for the implementation of the Agenda. Governments should undertake the primary responsibility for national development and make sustainable development an integral part of policy formulation and implementation. Efforts should be made to both seek early harvest in priority areas where countries enjoy development advantages and strengthen points of weakness to balance economic, social and environmental development. Public and private sectors, research institutes and all other stakeholders should take part in the implementation to strengthen the internal impetus and social foundation for development.

We need to improve partnership to find more resources and means for the implementation of the Agenda. Countries should work together to build a more comprehensive global partnership for development. Developed countries should deliver their ODA commitments on time and in full and, in particular, give more financial, technical and capacity-building assistance to the least developed countries. South-South cooperation and third-party cooperation shall have a bigger role to play. Great support should be given to the UN to play a coordinating role in consolidating development resources, promoting experience sharing and coordinating development policies. Major countries should take the lead and inject political impetus to the global process of implementation.

Mr. President,

As the largest developing country in the world, China takes development as its top priority. Last September, President Xi Jinping made the solemn commitment at the UN Development Summit that China will work with all parties to accomplish the Sustainable Development Agenda. Following the summit, we have launched implementation work on all fronts and made progress in the four aspects of top-level design, early harvest, institutional safeguard and development cooperation.

—Last month, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China adopted the Outline of the 13th Five-year Plan for Economic and Social Development, which put forth the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, called for the active implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and aligned China’s tasks of comprehensively deepening reform and opening-up with the 17 sustainable development goals. In other words, the implementation of the Agenda has been embedded in China’s mid- to long-term development program.

—Proceeding from its own national conditions, the Chinese government has identified a host of quantified targets for the next five years, such as lifting the remaining 55.75 million poor rural population out of poverty, creating 50 million new urban jobs, rebuilding 20 million housing units in rundown urban areas and bringing 95% of urban sewage under centralized treatment. These targets are very much in line with the SDGs, and will become elements of early harvest in China’s implementation of the Agenda.

—The Chinese government has set up an inter-agency mechanism comprising 43 government departments to coordinate the implementation of the Agenda, and assigned the 169 targets to competent authorities. We are now working on the country plan for the implementation which will be released before the end of the year. The 43 Chinese government departments will also draw up their own implementation plans to ensure clear responsibilities for each part of the work. We will improve the mechanism as we go forward to ensure effective implementation of the Agenda.

—The Chinese government will unswervingly advance international exchanges and cooperation, including South-South cooperation. Here, I wish to inform you that development cooperation initiatives which President Xi announced last year are being actively implemented. We are working to establish the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation; the China-UN Peace and Development Fund will be put into operation before the end of this year; and the Academy of South-South Cooperation and Development will enroll students soon. China has released its Position Paper on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, making clear its basic position and vision regarding the implementation. In July 2016, China will give a voluntary presentation at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to share experience with other parties in a joint pursuit of development.

Mr. President,

During your visit to China last year, you suggested China pay more attention to development issues in G20 Hangzhou Summit preparation. We attach great importance to your suggestion. As the host of G20 this year, China is working to facilitate G20’s contribution to greater international development cooperation and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The G20 is an important platform for international economic cooperation. Though not yet perfect, its creation represents a historic progress compared to mechanisms dominated by just a few countries. It provides a relatively comprehensive and balanced dialogue mechanism which brings both developed countries and developing ones to the same table for decision-making on global economic governance through equal-footed discussions and consultations. The inception and development of the G20 reflects the new changes and features of the international landscape and system. It has played an irreplaceable role in facilitating joint response to the international financial crisis, promoting strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy and advancing international economic cooperation.

As the world’s largest developing country and second largest economy, China knows keenly the close link between development and economic growth. Weak global growth, sluggish trade and investment and macro policy divergence of major economies may bring new uncertainties and destabilizing factors and lead to more inequality and imbalance, thus adding to the risks and difficulties in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

On the other hand, there exists great potential for development. The development and progress of developing countries will go a long way to driving growth and opening up new markets. They represent the new hope of global growth. China will use its G20 Presidency to play an active leading role in steering international economic cooperation and exploring new paths for world economic growth. We will carefully heed the voices and aspirations of developing countries, firmly uphold their interests, and promote strong, sustainable and inclusive growth of the world economy.

To this end, China has chosen “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy” as the theme of the G20 Hangzhou Summit, underpinned by four priorities, namely “breaking a new path for growth”, “more effective and efficient global economic and financial governance”, “robust international trade and investment”, and “inclusive and interconnected development”.

Under the topic of “breaking a new path for growth”, G20 priorities include innovation, new industrial revolution, digital economy and structural reform. What has happened in the past eight years since the international financial crisis broke out shows that short-term policies of fiscal stimulus and monetary easing alone cannot ultimately resolve the deep-seated structural problems in the world economy. Innovation and structural reform are more effective means to foster new drivers of the world economic growth and unlock medium- to long-term growth potential. This is the fundamental way to steer the world economy away from sluggish and fragile recovery and market volatilities. Innovation and reform entail opportunities. Developing countries shall ride the waves of new industrial revolution and digital economy with fair wind and seize opportunities to catch up and realize common development. China will push for the formulation of a G20 Innovative Growth Blueprint, stress the inclusive innovation concept, highlight the importance of helping developing countries build greater capacity of research and development, propose action steps to advance industrialization of developing countries, narrow the industrialization gap and digital divide between the developed and developing countries, support digital skills training of less developed countries, and strengthen the capacity building of developing countries. We need to increase, through innovation, the accessibility and affordability of new technologies and forms of business, lower the threshold for developing countries to integrate into the new economy and help them leverage their late-comers' advantages for sharing the dividends of the new economy.

Under the topic of “more effective and efficient global economic and financial governance”, the G20 aims to advance reform in the global economic governance mechanism and increase the representation and voice of developing countries and emerging markets. Inequality in the international system and governance mechanism is the biggest inequality of all. Global economic governance system must keep in pace with the changing global economic landscape. Thanks to the efforts of the G20, the IMF reforms, which had been delayed for six years, were finally implemented. This year, China has relaunched the G20 International Financial Architecture Working Group, continued to promote quota and voting power reforms of the IMF and the World Bank, held in-depth discussions on such issues as sovereign debt restructuring, cross-border capital flows, global financial safety net and greater role of the special drawing rights. The G20 Green Finance Study Group has been set up to facilitate the development of green industries. We have also worked to promote inclusive finance and help to bring its benefit to developing countries and their vulnerable groups. Moreover, we are also working to enhance governance and cooperation in the energy and anti-corruption fields, promote energy accessibility in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia Pacific, formulate action plans on energy efficiency and renewable energy, work out G20 High-Level Principles on International Fugitive Repatriation and Asset Recovery, set up a research center on fugitive repatriation and asset recovery, and formulate an anti-corruption action plan to foster a law-based, norm-abiding and sound international development environment.

Under the topic of “robust international trade and investment”, the G20 will, on the basis of the outcomes of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi last year, formulate a global trade growth strategy, improve global trade governance, promote trade finance, reduce trade costs, and strengthen the capacity of developing countries in participating in the global value chain. We will uphold the multilateral trading system, adhere to the Doha round development mandate, and make progress on relevant work in the post-Nairobi period. We will also formulate Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policy-Making to fill the gap of international investment governance. We will work out a G20 Initiative for the Promotion of Investment in Low-Income Countries to improve their investment environment and attractiveness.

“Inclusiveness and inter-connected development” is one of the major topics and a highlight of this year's summit. This year, we have realized two “firsts”. For the first time, the issue of development is placed in a prominent position in the global macro policy framework. And for the first time, a systematic action plan will be formulated on development cooperation to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the biggest developing country, China knows full well that without the development of developing countries, it would be impossible to invigorate the momentum of global development, tap into new and broader markets, or place the world economic recovery and growth on a solid footing. True development will not be achieved until the world economies grow in a coordinated manner, various industries realize inter-connected and win-win progress, and people of all walks of life enjoy shared prosperity. To this end:

—We place importance on the 2030 Agenda, and will work out an action plan, and promote relevant G20 work in the development perspective. Both collective actions and country-specific actions will be taken to advance implementation of the action plan in each country, provide support for other developing countries, and contribute to the work of the United Nations which plays the leading role in implementing the Agenda.

—We focus on Africa and the least developed countries, and push for a discussion among the G20 members for the first time on the issue of industrialization of these countries. We will propose a cooperation initiative, and provide policy support and recommendations to help these countries accelerate industrialization and realize poverty reduction and SDGs.

—We take climate change seriously, issued the first G20 Presidency Statement on climate change, in which we made the commitment to sign the Paris Agreement on 22 April or thereafter at an early date, bring the Agreement into force as soon as possible, and contribute useful public goods to international cooperation on climate. We have noted the statement of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon which welcomed the G20 Presidency Statement and appreciated China's strong leadership.

—We promote inclusive commerce, build global inclusive platform for commerce, help people at the bottom of the pyramid get involved in commerce, production, transport and consumption, and realize sustainable economic, social and environmental development.

—We discuss agriculture and employment issues, focus on women, youth and small farmers, promote innovation and sustainable development in agriculture, study the correlation between macro policy adjustment and higher employment, and encourage job creation by promoting entrepreneurship.

Moreover, the G20 highlights a broader concept of development which refers to not only development per se, but more importantly, close links between development and growth. The G20 embraces development as a source of growth, and stands ready to work with developing countries to look for drivers of the world economic growth. Development shall be in the genes of the G20 agenda and development elements shall be more broadly woven into various topics. Development is everywhere, be it in the macroeconomic policy, international trade and investment, innovative growth and global economic governance. This reflects the importance that China attaches to development and the G20 places on developing countries with China's facilitation.

As the G20 Presidency, China invites more developing countries to the G20 activities this year than any time before in the history of the G20. We have invited Egypt, Senegal, Chad, Kazakhstan and the Laos as guest countries and Thailand, the Chairmanship of the Group of 77, to join the development working group, in a hope to increase the representation of developing countries and reflect, in a more balanced way, the real needs and direction of world development.

We heed the voices of all parties, value two-way communication and interactions between the G20 members and non-member countries to increase transparency, enhance trust and dispel misgivings, so that G20 discussions will be more comprehensive, balanced and representative, various G20 recommendations and actions concerning developing countries will be translated into reality, and useful contribution will be made to international development cooperation in a broader scope.

Openness, inclusiveness and transparency are the principles China follows in hosting events. We have held a series of outreach dialogues and activities and engaged in full communication and exchange with all members in every Sherpa Meeting, meetings of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, other ministerial meetings and various working group meetings. We held a special session at the Boao Forum for Asia and engaged in direct dialogues with African and Asia-Pacific countries through the African Union and UNESCAP. Over the past few days, we have had talks with the G77, countries in special situations, the Global Governance Group, the Commonwealth and the International Organization of La Francophonie to listen to their views and suggestions. Looking forward, we will hold activities through more channels and on more occasions like APEC and Summer Davos and bring their voices back to G20 meetings. China is ready to be a bridge of communication to make G20 discussions more open, smooth and effective.

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the dawn of the 21st century, the Millennium Development Goals brought progress and hope to hundreds of millions of poor people. In the next 15 years, the Sustainable Development Agenda will guide countries in taking new steps on the path toward common prosperity and development. The G20 works for the benefit of not only its twenty member states, but the whole world. We will listen to more voices, pool more wisdom, and make even bigger contribution to common development of mankind and greater prosperity of the world. China will take the Hangzhou Summit as an opportunity to work with all countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Agenda, highlighting development as the defining theme of our time, and making joint progress on the path towards realizing sustainable development by 2030.

Thank you.

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