UN expands partnerships with locals

By Li Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-20 08:46

The United Nations is expanding its partnerships with central and local governments in what were once considered "sensitive areas" to assist China in achieving balance and harmony in its economic growth.

The issues for cooperation between the UN organizations in China and their Chinese counterparts this year will range from the rule of law, anti-corruption, development of civil society, cultural development in ethnic-minority populated areas to sustainable development of tourism in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, said at a press briefing on Friday in Beijing.

The UN, in addition, is working with China to hold a forum on Tibet in the middle of this year.

It will also involve itself in preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with a partnership between the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

'Acting as one'

Under the program, UNDP and BOCOG will host joint activities to raise environmental awareness across China and share international best practices on the environment.

"From the UN side, we will act as one," said Malik, who is also the resident representative of UNDP in China, adding that there are 21 UN agencies with about 600 staff members working in China.

Regarding the rule of law, the UN China team will work with such key government institutions as the Ministry of Supervision, focusing on anti-corruption and strengthening integrity in the government, Edward Wu, leader of the rule of law and democracy team of UNDP, said.

It will play a more active role in supporting the development of civil society in China, working with the Ministry of Civil Affairs to create a favorable environment for the growth of non-government organizations, Wu said.

It will also work with civil society organizations to build up their capacities for participating in legislation and policymaking.

Bill Bikales, an international economist working with UNDP in Beijing, said his organization has also concerned itself with basic public services, such as old-age security and public health.

It is going to work with the Ministry of Finance on fiscal reforms of the local governments and help strengthen their financial status.

Bikales noted such public services as education, health- care and social securities were vital, and the right path to a harmonious society.

The UN China team will also focus on energy and environmental challenges, spotlighting biodiversity, renewable resources and climate change, Malik said.

In its document, UNDP stated that China's growth since the late 1970s has reduced poverty, but has generated great pressure on the environment.

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