The global economy is struggling to recover. The COVID-19 pandemic is eroding decades of gains in global development, international development cooperation lacks drive, the North-South gap continues to widen, crises are emerging in food and energy security, and the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is encountering new difficulties.
At the same time, development remains as important as ever and all countries, especially developing ones, aspire to step up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Emerging markets and developing countries are more resolved to seek strength through unity, and the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is bringing more opportunities.
Against this backdrop, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the general debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in September 2021. The initiative aims to enable the international community to refocus on development, and to contribute China's solutions and wisdom to provide public goods and address difficulties holding back global development.
The GDI was put forward by China, but belongs to the world. It has been warmly received by other countries and international organizations.
On January 20, the Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the UN held a meeting to launch the Group of Friends of the GDI at the UN headquarters in New York. Delegates from over 100 countries joined the meeting, including more than 80 ambassadors and over 20 heads of UN agencies.
That the launch was so well attended is indicative of the value the UN and its members attach to the GDI, and that the global partnership it has formed is robust enough to withstand current and future challenges. This high level of participation is the result not only of many nations' recognition of the GDI's strong potential to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but also of China's drawing of wide international consensus in the formulation of the initiative's core concepts, and its aligning of the key areas of cooperation with the priorities of all parties. This consensus forms the necessary foundation for the initiative's sustained growth.
The establishment of the Group of Friends of the GDI is an important step in the building of the cooperation mechanism for this initiative and is an illustration of China's determination to practice true multilateralism.
At the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development in late June, President Xi further proposed to foster a development paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation and common prosperity. He also put forward a four-point proposal for cooperation on building international consensus on promoting development, creating an international environment conducive to development, fostering new drivers for global development, and forging a global development partnership. The leaders in attendance reached extensive consensuses including:
—Committed to multilateralism: upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, safeguarding the international system with the UN at its core and upholding the international order underpinned by international law; upholding humanity's common values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, promoting a global governance vision that emphasizes extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and increasing the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs, institutions and mechanisms; working to build an open world economy, stepping up macroeconomic policy coordination and jointly upholding the stable and sound operation of the international economic and financial systems.
—Committed to development: putting development front and center on the international cooperation agenda, staying committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and fostering united, equal, balanced and inclusive global development partnerships.
—Committed to a people-centered approach: responding to the call of people from across the world for strengthening international development cooperation and achieving common sustainable development, improving their wellbeing, pursuing people's well-rounded development, and giving everyone the equal opportunity to fulfill their full potential with dignity in a healthy environment.
—Committed to inclusiveness and benefits for all: respecting the development paths independently chosen by the peoples of different countries, taking seriously and addressing development concerns of developing countries with concrete actions, and reducing inequality among and within countries.
—Committed to innovation-driven development: seizing the historic opportunities created by the latest round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, speeding up efforts to harness scientific and technological achievements to boost productivity, and unleashing new impetus for innovation-driven growth; promoting innovation in development philosophy, institutions and science and technology, enhancing developing countries' capacity for development and contributing to their leapfrog development.
—Committed to harmony between humans and nature: abiding by the targets, principles and framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and of its Paris Agreement, improving global environmental governance, responding to climate change, accelerating transition to green and low-carbon development, enhancing climate adaptation, meeting humanity's demands for a beautiful environment and achieving higher-quality and more sustainable development.
—Committed to results-oriented actions: taking stronger actions, with both the immediate and long-term interests and both challenges and opportunities in mind; strengthening communication and coordination on development policies; supporting the UN in coordinating global effort for the 2030 Agenda, enhancing the monitoring and review of its implementation; encouraging UN development agencies and international financial institutions to play their due roles, and coordinating development cooperation at the global, regional and national levels to generate synergy.
Holding the High-Level Dialogue on Global Development marked the beginning of the GDI taking root. In addition to leaders of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), political dignitaries attending the dialogue included leaders of major emerging markets and developing countries such as Indonesia, the rotating presidency of the Group of 20; Thailand, the host of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings this year; Kazakhstan, the rotating chair of the Commonwealth of Independent States; Cambodia, the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); Fiji, the host country of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; Argentina, which holds the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States; Senegal, the current chair of the African Union; Uzbekistan, the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; Algeria, the incoming chair of the League of Arab States; as well as Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia and Iran.
President Xi has proposed a host of pragmatic steps to promote global development. China released a list of 32 deliverables, which is part of China's action, in collaboration with partners, to implement the GDI, covering the eight areas of poverty reduction, food security, pandemic response and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and digital era connectivity.
These measures include:
—setting up a Global Alliance for Poverty Reduction and Development,
—launching an International NGOs Network for Poverty Reduction Cooperation,
—holding the World Conference on Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems,
—launching an initiative for agrarian civilization protection and a Food Production Enhancement Action,
—implementing the Chemical Earth Big Science Program, training programs for Pacific Island Countries on food production, eco-agriculture and other areas via the China-Pacific Island Countries Demonstration Center,
—establishing an International Vaccine Research, Development and Innovation Alliance,
—continuing with China’s Brightness Action, the Heart-to-Heart Journey and other “small but beautiful” free medical programs for other developing countries, and stepping up cooperation between paired-up hospitals in China and Africa,
—officially launching the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund Phase III of $50 million,
—promoting to establish the Global Clean Energy Cooperation Partnership,
—establishing the Global Network for Sustainable Forest Management,
—holding a Global Development Forum and providing 100,000 training opportunities for other developing countries,
—advancing the Partnership for New Industrial Revolution,
—launching the ICT Capacity Building Programs for Developing Countries,
—holding the Global Development Initiative Digital Cooperation Forum and the 2022 Global Digital Economy Conference,
—hosting the UN World Data Forum 2023 by China, and
—launching a Digital Literacy and Skills Improvement Initiative.
China will upgrade its South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund into the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, with an additional input of $1 billion on top of the existing $3 billion, while enhancing support for the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund established by China, issuing a Global Development Report, and establishing a Global Development Promotion Center and a Global Knowledge Network for Development.
Pooling consensus on worldwide development and mobilizing global resources for development are important parts of China's practical plan to drive the GDI forward. China will work together with the rest of the international community to implement the outcomes of the dialogue, encourage the international community to focus on development issues and increase input in global development cooperation. It welcomes the participation of all countries and international organizations, UN agencies in particular and developed countries included, to create synergy for and inject strong impetus into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The author is an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review and an expert on international studies
Copyedited by G.P. Wilson
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