As Prepared and Delivered
CCG President Wang,
Vice Mayor Yang,
It is my pleasure to join the 7th China Inbound-Outbound Forum on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme.
2020 has tested us all. COVID-19 has left countries in crisis – hospitals overstretched; workers without work; families loosing loved ones; and businesses without security. By the end of this year, 71 million people worldwide will be pushed back into extreme poverty.
So as we slowly recover from this devasting virus, we need – more than ever – growth that includes everyone, and that our planet can sustain. This is what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent. Adopted in 2015, the 17 SDGs are a promise – by all Member States – to end poverty, protect our environment and leave no one behind.
But a sustainable future does not come for free. It calls for massive global investment of between US$5-7 trillion annually, mostly in developing countries. This can only be covered by a combination of improved government policies – that in turn incentivize the private sector to raise its contribution and financing.
Special Economic and Free Trade Zones can be important drivers for such sustainable investments. SEZs catalyzed China’s rapid transformation – indeed, China now hosts over half of the 5,400 SEZs globally today.
Since the late 1990s, China has also been building Overseas Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones, sharing its experience and enabling economic cooperation with other countries. According to the Ministry of Commerce, over 100 of these were established or under construction by 2018; generating investments of USD 40 billion, paying over 3 billion in taxes to host countries and creating over 300,000 local jobs.
UNDP, together with our partners from the public and private sector, along with civil society, supports responsible, inclusive investments, so that the benefits of trade reach all of society. In addition, we work to ensure that trade and investment is environmentally sustainable and contributes to the world’s battle against climate change.
When guided by sustainability and supported by conducive policies, Chinese Overseas Cooperation Zones can become key platforms for sustainable investments and advancing the SDGs globally. By driving sustained growth and creating decent jobs, they can help to reduce poverty and inequalities. They can also improve resource efficiency and reduce business risks – giving companies more incentives to try new, green growth models.
With just 10 years left to realise the 2030 Agenda and avert the worst effects of climate change – which would be even harder to control than a pandemic – we must act now. Covid-19 has revealed how vulnerable we are, and it will not be the last global shock of its kind.
Yet it has also given us an invaluable opportunity that we cannot afford to squander. The unprecedented global response to COVID19 has proven that a new normal is possible – one that is compatible with the boundaries our planet has set. The habits developed during this crisis – such as such as working from home, contact-free services, and reduced travel – demonstrate that we can operate under a low-carbon model. This also makes it easier to unite stakeholders in making business more environmentally and socially responsible.
This can and must include greening carbon-heavy sectors, such as logistics, critical for trade and services. There are many opportunities to do so. For example, in Zhejiang, working with the government and other partners, UNDP developed a Green Logistics Index, to help this sector become more eco-friendly.
As we look to the post-COVID-19 world, all of us here – including representatives from the government, companies and international organizations – must unite to support a sustainable future for both people and planet. Because achieving the SDGs calls for all of us to act, and act together.
In closing, let me thank the Center for China and Globalization, as well as Beijing’s Municipal Commerce Bureau, for organizing this important forum. Let us indeed work together towards a sustainable world for all!