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Development for all: China's contribution to UNGA 78

By Yi Fan | | Updated: 2023-09-28 09:46
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UN headquarters in New York City. [Photo/Agencies]

The high-level 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly took place in September as the world came to a midterm point toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We are "woefully off track" to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by the deadline, top UN officials warned. According to the UN official report that monitors global progress on the 2030 Agenda, progress on more than 50 percent of the targets of the SDGs is weak and insufficient, and progress on 30 percent has either stalled or gone into reverse.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for strengthening action. "Development cannot wait ... This is a definitive moment." As the theme of the General Debate of UNGA 78 put it, it is time to "rebuild trust and reignite global solidarity" to accelerate action on the 2030 Agenda.

Walking the walk

At the General Debate of UNGA 76 two years ago, President Xi Jinping proposed a public good—the Global Development Initiative, which, in his own words at the 2023 BRICS summit, is "precisely for the purpose of calling on the world to stay focused on development and lending impetus to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda."

The eight priority areas of GDI cooperation go well with the SDGs: poverty reduction, food security, pandemic response and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and digital-era connectivity.

Two years on, with growing support of and participation by international partners, the GDI has developed from an inspiring blueprint to concrete projects delivering real development benefits to people around the world, especially in developing countries.

Solid facts

On the sidelines of UNGA 78, China hosted a High-level Meeting on GDI Cooperation Outcomes under the theme "GDI for SDGs: Actions and Progress," providing any dubious onlooker with a glimpse of the solid facts.

On poverty reduction and food security, China has introduced the Juncao (mushroom grass) technology to Papua New Guinea, which has benefited more than 15,000 rural residents in nine provinces of the country. For every 10-square-meter piece of land, some $4,860 of annual revenue is gained. The Juncao industry has become the economic backbone of PNG's Eastern Highlands Province.

Funds under GDI cooperation have reached Nepal's Smiling Children Project and Laos' National School Meals Program. Over 3,000 Nepalese children have received food packets filled with rice, beans and cooking oil, and over 130,000 students from some 1,400 schools in remote areas in Laos have come to enjoy nutritious meals.

In what Secretary-General Guterres calls "the era of global boiling," China's GDI cooperation with Fiji has enabled more than 30,000 villagers to enjoy solar-powered lighting systems.

As the North-South digital divide widens, China has partnered with the UN in launching a training program on South-South cooperation in cross-border e-commerce for poverty eradication and global sustainable development. Over 1,000 policymakers, practitioners and entrepreneurs from 93 countries attended the program, and thousands more view the seminar series posted online every day.

Through such "small but smart" projects and more, the GDI has contributed its share to galvanizing international focus on the development cause and reinvigorating the 2030 Agenda.

Looking forward

Looking ahead, the GDI is on track to keep up the good work in the global development cause.

China has welcomed the participation of more like-minded partners, including developed countries and international organizations, following its established principles of openness and inclusiveness. With efforts of a dozen UN entities, an inter-agency task force on the GDI has kickstarted effectively.

On a tangible note, China is setting up, on top of the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund and the China-UN Peace and Development Fund, a special fund of $10 billion dedicated to the implementation of the GDI, as President Xi Jinping announced in August.

"Development should be placed at the center of the international agenda, and development benefit should reach every country and individual in a fairer way," said China's Vice-President Han Zheng at the General Debate of UNGA 78. So China advocates, and so it has done for the 2030 Agenda and more importantly, for the people of the world. Here's to the development of all, by all and for all.

Yi Fan is a Beijing-based international affairs commentator. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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