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UN officials laud China's SDG efforts

By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-22 10:35
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While crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have set the world back, senior officials from the United Nations acknowledged China's achievements in pursuing the UN's Strategic Development Goals (SDGs).

To further accelerate the SDGs by 2030, there are four areas crucial for most countries, especially developing countries, to focus on: effective governance, employment and inclusivity, resilience and infrastructure, and urbanization, according to Xu Haoliang, UN under-secretary-general and associate administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Most nations recognize the importance of establishing efficient governance mechanisms as a key for development, Xu said. Creating opportunities for employment, especially for young people and the general population, is important, he said.

Building resilience to natural disasters and the impact of climate change, with a strong emphasis on developing infrastructure is essential, said Xu. He also highlighted the development of urban areas.

"China has made significant achievements in these areas," Xu said on Thursday during a panel discussion moderated by China Daily at the UN SDG Media Zone on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.

China's rapid infrastructure development, substantial progress in urbanization, and successful poverty-reduction efforts are attributed to its effective governance, he said.

"In the past 40 years, China has lifted 770 million people out of poverty," Xu said. "So without its strong government support and robust employment opportunities, this poverty alleviation would have been impossible."

The Chinese government also has invested significant resources in improving the effectiveness of government operations. For instance, it utilizes e-government to support the government and offer various services to the public, said Xu.

China also has undertaken various initiatives, such as achieving the milestone of generating 50 percent of its power without reliance on petroleum and other conventional fuels, he said.

China's commitment to attaining carbon neutrality is actively underway, among other efforts, all of which can serve as valuable examples for developing countries, he added.

China's increase in renewable energy power generation last year was twice that of Europe's during the same period, and eight times that of the United States' during the same period in 2012, Xu said. "China's investment in renewable energy is very fast.

"In fact, China is indeed making different explorations every day in using innovation to support the development of recycling," said Xu. That is particularly in areas like big data applications, remote sensing for pollution monitoring and control, and the integration of technology with agriculture, he said.

China has made tremendous achievements, but the pace of development knows no bounds, Xu said. Every country must continue to overcome existing challenges and forge ahead. It's a journey every nation undertakes, he said.

"While China's development is impressive, it's crucial to remember that China remains the world's largest developing country, given its economic scale," said Xu. "The international community and other developing nations can draw valuable lessons from China's development experience and receive support from its existing capabilities."

He noticed that the Chinese government is also continually researching how to utilize its current capacities to assist in development. Chinese initiatives such as the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are examples of such assistance, Xu said.

"From my understanding, China allocated approximately $8 billion annually to support the development of developing countries from 2013 to 2018. These efforts are set to intensify in the future," Xu said.

"Therefore, in terms of collaboration and trilateral cooperation, China has the potential to make significant contributions to achieving the sustainable development goals and lifting up the developing world," he added.

Li Junhua, the under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs at the UN, echoed Xu in a panel discussion moderated by China Daily on Monday.

"We welcome all the initiatives announced by member states that contribute to the implementation of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. To our knowledge, the Belt and Road Initiative has conducted numerous programs and projects, which covered almost 150 member states."

The GDI has "received a warm welcome from a number of member states, including the UN entities. We really hope to see, that as we map out specific programs for the coming years, it will inject more energy and progress towards accelerating the SDGs," Li said.

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