UN welcomes China's development role
During a recent visit to Nepal, I met Shuvakala Devia Das, a local community member from the Terai in Nepal. After flooding hit Nepal last summer, the entire community has struggled to recover. About 160 people lost their lives, more than 43,000 houses were destroyed and 21,000 families displaced. Das's family needed to evacuate and were in urgent need of support.
This is a very poor community, and it is these communities that suffer the most from natural disasters and environmental degradation. Without the resources, infrastructure and capital to mitigate and recover, these communities will remain in poverty and continue to suffer from the growing development challenges of this generation. This was evident when talking to Das, who told me that she still struggles to sleep at night due to the fear of flooding and lack of means for her family to recover.
I was really touched by her story and heartened to see that assistance provided by the Chinese government (the Ministry of Commerce) and the United Nations Development Programme was helping her to rebuild her life for a stronger future. However, the challenge still remains to make sure this assistance is long term and sustainable for these vulnerable communities and has a lasting impact on their efforts to build a better and stronger future.
This is a challenge China is tackling head-on. Over the past decade, China has been increasingly engaging in the South-South cooperation initiatives to support other developing countries with sustainable development and to advance the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Since the 1950s, China has offered assistance to more than 160 countries, providing knowledge, technology and capacity building. And now after decades of dealing with frequent natural disasters and working on its domestic disaster relief capacities, China is sharing its experience and these solutions with the world.
Nepal is a clear example: more than 186,600 individuals received essential support in the form of recovery packages, allowing families, such as Das's, to gradually rebuild their lives and prepare for future flooding.
It is not only in Nepal where China is working with UN agencies to provide emergency relief. Across East Africa, the World Food Programme is providing essential food supplies, and in Afghanistan the UN Refugee Agency is supporting livelihood materials for displaced individuals.
In Bangladesh, alongside UNDP, emergency shelters and women's health packages have been provided for individuals and communities affected by floods and medical support given to the influx of refugees from Myanmar. And in Pakistan, development assistance has concentrated on the restoration of livelihoods and the distribution of supplementary food, essential household items, and school furniture. In October last year, China also provided funds for hurricane Maria and Irma relief efforts in the Caribbean. Up to now, half a million people have been helped－a strong testimony of China's support.
It was also during my journey to Nepal that China announced a new agency for international development. In the future, we expect China to provide increasing financing opportunities and become a champion in terms of knowledge, skills and technology transfer.
China's State-owned enterprise and private sector financing represent a unique opportunity for many developing countries in terms of generating economic growth, foreign exports and job creation.
Aside from humanitarian relief and recovery, we also see a role for China in supporting other countries' industrialization and sustainable development processes in line with partner countries' development needs as well as in accordance with China's own economic transformation agenda. This is truly win-win cooperation.
Ensuring long-term sustainability and development impact on the ground where China is active will be important for security, prosperity and cooperation. At the UN we stand ready to support China as it shares its experience with other developing countries and help to facilitate long-lasting development impact on the ground to achieve the SDGs. The UN is in a unique position to support China with technical knowledge, best practices and concrete deliverables on development cooperation, and by working together we hope families such as Das' can have a safer and sustainable future.
The author is UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in China.