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Implement the New Development Agenda and Open Up New Horizons

2016/01/21

Zhang Jun*

In September 2015, the UN development summit was successfully held at the UN headquarters in New York, drawing world attention. Leaders of more than 150 countries gathered together, reviewed progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, adopted the 2030 sustainable development agenda and committed to work for common development of mankind. President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to the UN and discussed with leaders of other countries the strategies for development and future cooperation. This injected strong positive energy of China into the international cooperation on development. It wrote a splendid chapter in the world history of development.

1. The Millennium Development Goals-A Joint Exploration in the Journey of Development

On international development, the last conference of such a scale, level and impact was at the turn of the century. In September 2000, the UN held the Millennium Summit and adopted the Millennium Declaration, which set a series of concrete indicators for human development, known as the Millennium Development Goals. (MDGs)

The MDGs are a milestone in human development. This is a system of development goals which is most comprehensive, authoritative and systematic for the international community. It reflects people's aspirations for better lives, and for the first time set specific targets and timetables for poverty eradication, sanitation, health, gender equality and environmental protection. Attainment of the MDGs has enhanced the well-being of people in all countries, particularly in developing countries, and boosted international cooperation on development.

In the last 15 years, all countries have made positive progress in meeting the MDGs. As a result, over one billion people now lead a better life. The international community has attained or basically attained 5 indicators involving poverty eradication, access to safe drinking water, equal access to primary education, combating malaria and improving the lives of slum-dwellers. It is worth noting that the world has met the target of "halving the population living on less than 1.25 dollars a day" 5 years ahead of schedule. This is of high significance to the many developing countries. However, the world is still facing grave challenges in reducing hunger, improving women and infant health, environmental protection and other fields, and attainment of relevant MDGs is uneven across different countries and regions. Particularly, there has been no marked improvement in the development environment of Least Developed Countries, and North-South development gap remains huge.

China has long taken development as a high priority. It has made solid efforts in meeting the MDGs, worked actively to promote the goals, and made important contribution to their attainment. We have basically attained the MDGs in the past 15 years. From 1990 to 2011,China contributed to 66.3% of the total decrease in world poor population. Since 2000, China has extended safe drinking water to another 467 million rural residents. The primary school enrollment rate has stayed at above 99%. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised China's contribution to the world's achievement in meeting the MDGs on many occasions.

While pursuing its own development, China always bears in mind that it is one among the developing countries and has helped other countries to share in China's development dividends and opportunities. Since 2000, China has innovated the modalities of cooperation and intensified South-South cooperation. It has provided concrete help to more than 120 developing countries in their effort to attain the MDGs. Through concrete actions, China has been applying the vision of win-win cooperation and a right approach to upholding justice and pursuing one's interests. It has shown an image of a responsible major country and won the praise of other developing countries.

2. The UN Development Summit-A Future-oriented Collective Action by People of All Countries

The year 2015 is the last year in meeting the MDGs. It is also the year to launch the 2030 sustainable development agenda. In today's world, the collective strength of developing countries is on the rise, profound changes are taking place in the international balance of power, and the interests and future of all countries are more closely intertwined than ever. At the same time, the deep readjustment since the 2008 financial crisis is far from over, world economic growth remains weak and recovery is uneven. Many countries are seeking effective ways to boost development, and international cooperation lacks momentum. The cause of world development has come to a crucial juncture as to where it should go in the future. The international community has the pressing need to take more practical steps, and all countries hope to find development paths suited to their own national conditions.

Against such a backdrop, the UN development summit could not have come at a better time. World leaders reviewed the progress of the MDGs, shared development ideas and experience, and called for stronger international cooperation on development. Countries further recognized the difficulties and challenges facing world development, further realized the close links between development with global peace, security, and economic growth. They also reached broad consensus on improving the international development cooperation framework, strengthening North-South cooperation and deepening South-South cooperation.

President Xi Jinping attended the summit and delivered an important speech. To address the two most pressing issues regarding future plans for the global development cause and driving forces of international cooperation, President Xi raised development outlook, calling for equitable, open, all-round and innovation-driven development and raised four-point policy propositions, with a view to promoting common development of mankind. It is China's development outlook set out by the new leadership of the country based on a keen analysis of the present and future of global development and deep summary of China's experience in more than 30 years of reform and opening up. It encapsulates China's path and model of development, and contributes the China solution to effectively meeting development challenges. It opens a new horizon for the development of countries and for global cooperation on development, and has won high recognition of the international community.

Equity is a basic precondition for development. Both developing and developed countries have equal rights to share the fruits of development and realize common development. Opening up is the important guarantee of development. Economic globalization requires that all countries open their door for development and build open economy. This has become the necessary way toward national prosperity and progress. An all-round approach is intrinsic to sustainable development. Only when there is coordinated development in the economic, social and environmental fields can the development fruits be truly shared among the people. Innovation is the key driver of development. Only through economic transformation and upgrading enabled by reform and innovation, can countries foster new growth drivers and new competitive strength. The vision on China's development put forth by President Xi at the development summit, and the concepts of pursuing innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development set out at the fifth plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee form an integral whole, and will surely exert a profound impact on development process of China and the world.

To enhance North-South cooperation and South-South cooperation is one of focal issues of the summit. China has long been committed to promoting international cooperation on development. Based on adhering to North-South cooperation as the main channel, China has made due contribution to the deepening of South-South cooperation. On the side of the summit, President Xi chaired the whole session of the High-Level Round Table on South-South Cooperation between China and the UN. He reviewed with 28 state leaders and heads of international organizations the splendid journey of South-South cooperation, recognized the role and contribution of South-South cooperation, summarized the important experience of conducting South-South cooperation featuring equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit, unity and mutual assistance, and put forth proposals to deepen the cooperation, which include exploring diverse development paths, promoting synergy of national development strategies, showing the real results of practical development and improving the global development framework. Leaders of the participating developing countries applauded China's constructive role in promoting South-South cooperation, and believed the Round Table reflected developing countries' views on and expectations for South-South cooperation, charted the course for deepening such cooperation in the new era and will take South-South cooperation to higher level in greater fields and scale.

To address the acute problems long facing developing countries, such as inadequate financing capacity and lack of development resources, President Xi announced a series of practical measures during the summit to advance international development cooperation and South-South cooperation. They cover such financing measures as setting up a South-South cooperation fund with initial capital of US$2 billion, canceling debt owed by relevant developing countries maturing by the end of 2015, striving to increase investment in LDCs up to US$12 billion by 2030, and providing the WHO US$2 million of aid in cash. There are also such innovative steps as establishing a knowledge center on international development and institute of South-South cooperation and development, and exploring the building of a global energy network. Moreover, there are 100 practical projects in each of the following six areas including poverty alleviation, agro-cooperation, aid for trade, ecological protection and tackling climate change, medical facilities, and education and training. These measures not only aim to address the immediate difficulties facing developing countries, but also give strong support to their effort in meeting the 2030 sustainable development agenda and realizing long-term sustainable development. They best illustrate China's role as a major responsible country.

3. The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda-A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Development

The 2030 sustainable development agenda adopted at the UN development summit is an ambitious and future-oriented program of actions. The sustainable development goals (SDGs), which are the core of the agenda, include 17 targets and 169 specific indicators spanning various aspects of economic, social and cultural development. They directly concern the dimensions and structure of a country's future development and will exert a lasting and profound impact on all countries' development and on global development cooperation over the next 15 years.

As a new system of targets on international development, the agenda has inherited the unfulfilled tasks of the MDGs, and also reflects the new characteristics of our times. First, more attention is paid to the quality and efficiency of development. The agenda included both traditional livelihood issues, such as poverty alleviation, education and health, and indicators in the economic field, including finance, trade and industrialization. It also covers issues in the field of environment, such as climate change and disaster relief. The agenda takes into consideration the three main fields of economy, society and environment for the purpose of all-round development. Second, more attention is paid to the path of development. The agenda, while stressing the need to step up North-South cooperation and for developed countries to fulfill their commitments, also stresses the need to put the issue of development on global agenda, set economic growth target and enhance the ability of developing countries for self-development. Third, more attention is paid to common development of the world. The agenda calls on developed countries to work together with developing countries to meet relevant targets and indicators and develop an equal partnership for development so that development becomes a truly shared goal, making development inter-connected.

The smooth adoption of the 2030 sustainable development agenda reflects the political will of all countries to build consensus and pursue common development. It has opened a new chapter for the global cause of development. Fifteen years might seem long, yet they are just a glimpse of moment in the long history of human development. Hence we must act promptly to turn our vision into action, implement follow-ups at the national, regional and global levels and jointly pursue a development path that is fair, open, all-round and innovative.

First, countries should assume primary responsibility for implementing the agenda. Realizing development ultimately hinges on the efforts of countries themselves. This is the only way to advance development in a sustainable way. All countries should strive to align the 2030 sustainable development agenda with their national development strategies, and identify priorities in light of their national conditions. Developing countries need to focus on addressing basic livelihood issues such as poverty, health and education. Developed countries need to strive to change the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production. All countries need to handle in a balanced manner the relations among economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.

Second, regional cooperation needs to lend more impetus to national development. Countries may fully leverage geographical proximity and transport convenience to step up regional infrastructure building, deepen "hardware" and "software" connectivity, and promote complementarity of strengths and win-win cooperation. Countries should speed up the building of free trade area in their region to effectively complement the multilateral trading regime, fully release the power of trade in spurring growth and create opportunities to upgrade the industrial structure and achieve economic transformation.

Third, global partnership on development should be more comprehensive and balanced. Developed countries should meet their ODA commitments in time and in full, and scale up support to developing countries in terms of capital, technology and capacity building. Based on adhering to North-South cooperation as the main channel, we must further step up South-South cooperation, and encourage more tripartite cooperation as well as involvement by the private sector and other stakeholders. The issue of development should be incorporated into the macro-policy coordination on the global economy and finance, and make sure that developing countries participate in a deep way in the global supply, industrial and value chains and truly get on the track of virtuous development.

The 2030 sustainable development agenda includes five core elements of the people, the Earth, prosperity, peace and partnership. This is in line with China's path of peaceful development and vision of achieving innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development put forth at the fifth plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee. It is highly consistent with China's commitment to comprehensively deepen reform and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China attaches great importance to the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda. The communique of the fifth plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee called for "taking the initiative to participate in the 2030 sustainable development agenda". This shows that implementation work is being put high on China's domestic development agenda. In October 2015, President Xi Jinping announced at the high-level conference on poverty reduction and development that China will lift the more than 70 million poor people by the current national standard out of poverty in the next 5 years. This will be China's first step in the process of implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda, and boost global efforts in meeting poverty reduction target and advancing the development agenda.

China is now formulating the 13th five-year plan. We will use this as a new starting point, continue to take development as the top priority, and make overall plans to advance economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development. We will incorporate in a planned and phased manner the targets and indicators outlined in the 2030 sustainable development agenda into our domestic development agenda, properly handle the relations between implementation of the agenda with economic transformation and growth, so that the two can support and reinforce other. This will propel China's economic upgrading and help the country continue to make new contribution to sustained and steady world economic growth. China will demonstrate to the world through its practices that as long as one keeps to the right development direction and path, firms up confidence and strives forward, not only can the goal of sustainable development be met, but more impetus and space could be created for economic restructuring and strong economic growth.

As a responsible developing country, China will continue to provide support to the best of its ability to other developing countries in implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda. China will earnestly implement all practical steps announced by President Xi at the UN development summit and provide more public goods to the global cause on development. As the host of the G20 summit in 2016, China will encourage all G20 members to step up macro-economic policy coordination and set good examples in the global effort in implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda. China will also continue to vigorously advance the Belt and Road Initiative, help enable the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank to play a bigger role, and make its due contribution to global development.

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