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Global South indispensable in sustainable development

By Xue Yuxue | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-25 09:06
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This photo taken on July 23, 2023 shows a grocery store powered by solar energy in a village in Lusaka, Zambia. [Photo/Xinhua]

Sustainable human development is at the core of global development governance. The shaping of new forms of civilization for human development has strong implications for the realization of a sustainable future, and will to a great extent define the future direction of and approach to global development governance.

In 2015, the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development launched the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda is significant in that it is an inclusive agenda focusing on addressing the root causes of poverty. It provides the world with a common plan of action for managing urgent global issues as well as clear guidelines for promoting social and economic development across the world.

The Sustainable Development Goals cover new priority areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, and peace and justice, and they include ending poverty, protecting ecosystems and biodiversity, and ensuring peace and prosperity for all. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs together highlight the acute challenges facing human development today and, hence, provide a good reference for discussing the shaping of new forms of civilization for human development.

"No Poverty", which is listed as the first of the 17 SDGs, calls for the eradication of all forms of poverty worldwide. Many developing countries have made great achievements in eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable human development over the past decades. According to data of the UN and other agencies, the number of the world's extreme poor decreased from approximately 1.9 billion people in 1990, accounting for about 40 percent of the world's population, to about 800 million people today, with a poverty rate of about 10 percent. This reflects mainly the achievements of developing countries.

Despite this achievement, many developing countries still face various development problems and difficulties. Nonetheless, they have responded to the 2030 Agenda by placing strong emphasis on development inclusivity, fairness, sustainability and resilience in their poverty eradication endeavors and pursuit of economic and social development. They also keenly follow the 2030 Agenda's principle of people-centered sustainable development that integrates economic development, social progress and environmental protection. Consequently, the level of human development of many developing countries has continuously and substantially improved over the years.

It is worth mentioning that in this process, developing countries, such as China, uphold the principles of sustainable human development. They explore new economic and social development models and pioneer new development approaches based on their own situations. They also engage in exploring development paths that are in line with their own national conditions.

Along the way, developing countries continue to engage in the sharing of knowledge, experiences and innovative development theories. The concept of a human community with a shared future and the Global Development Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative are just a few examples in this respect put forward by China in recent years.

The actions and achievements of developing countries speak for themselves. They demonstrate that developing countries are indeed active participants in and important contributors to shaping new forms of civilization for human development.

Today, in the context of global governance, the concept of the developing "Global South" is well-understood and widely accepted. This is largely attributed to the tremendous efforts and achievements made by developing countries in advocating for world peace and development and promoting world economic and social progress over the past decades. Additionally, the Global South's growing economic size, market potential, economic and trade cooperation and technological progress, among other things, give developing countries great impetus for development.

Meanwhile, Global South cooperation mechanisms such as South-South Cooperation, BRICS, the G77 and China, and the New Development Bank have shown remarkable vigor and vitality. They serve as important platforms for the Global South to engage in global governance, discuss global development priorities and disseminate Global South development values.

Today, the international community increasingly recognizes that the future forms of human development should be people-centered, fair and inclusive, green and sustainable, and that the means of achieving human development, as well as the paths and models of development, should be diverse and varied, as advocated by the 2030 Agenda. It is therefore increasingly recognized that the Global South plays a unique role in balancing the global development structure and practicing development diversity. Furthermore, it makes an important contribution to enriching the meaning of human development and improving global development systems and governance mechanisms.

In short, against the backdrop of the rapidly evolving global development landscape, the role and contribution of the Global South in shaping new forms of civilization for human development will become ever more prominent, crucial and indispensable.

The author is former country director of the United Nations Development Programme in Afghanistan and Indonesia.

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