Building Global Development Synergy to Promote Prosperity and Progress of Humanity
By Li Kexin
On June 24, China successfully held the High-level Dialogue on Global Development. Leaders of the BRICS countries were joined by 13 other emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) in a virtual meeting for a discussion on the theme “Foster a Global Development Partnership for the New Era to Jointly Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. With President Xi Jinping chairing the session, the participating leaders discussed global development issues of shared interest and reached broad consensus. The Dialogue is a major event in global development cooperation, and heralds the implementation of the Global Development Initiative (GDI). It has contributed to building global development synergy and promoting human prosperity and progress, and received wide attention and positive response from around the world.
I. Global development is at a critical juncture of “progress or regress”.
Development is a timeless theme for humanity. It is the prerequisite and basis for achieving lasting peace and stability in the world, and an important way to improve the well-being of people in all countries. President Xi Jinping stressed that only through continuous development can people’s dream for a better life and social stability be realized. Only when people all over the world live better lives can prosperity be sustained, security safeguarded and human rights solidly grounded.
Since the beginning of the new century, global development has made encouraging progress thanks to economic globalization. Remarkable achievements have been made in most of the eight Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations at the beginning of the century. The population living in extreme poverty is now only half of that in 2000. Most countries have made substantial strides in improving people’s well-being and empowering women and children. At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015, the 193 member states unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 specific targets. The 2030 Agenda represents the broadest international consensus on global development. It has also provided a guide to action for international development cooperation in the ensuing 15 years and started a new phase of international development cooperation.
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda is now almost halfway through. With the joint efforts of all parties, global development has made good progress. But it is also confronted with unprecedented challenges. As the world enters a new period of turbulence and transformation, the global pandemic, regional conflicts, major-power rivalry, anti-globalization and other complex factors are interwoven and constantly weighing on global development. Development is getting increasingly marginalized on the international agenda. The outlook of attaining the SDGs as scheduled is anything but optimistic.
First, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe shocks. Under the severe impact of the pandemic, the 2030 Agenda faces the risks of stagnation, setbacks and even failure. According to UN reports, the pandemic has eroded the gains in global poverty reduction of the past decade. In 2020, over 100 million people were added to the global population living in poverty, nearly 800 million people suffered from hunger, and more than 250 million full-time jobs were lost. The Human Development Index dropped for the first time in three decades. The situation is particularly challenging for developing countries. Many of them have been struggling with economic recovery as well as debt, energy and food crises. The North-South gap and development fault lines keep widening.
Second, the international development environment has changed profoundly. Economic globalization is facing headwinds, the backlash against globalization is intensifying, and unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise. Developed countries are reluctant to deliver in full their international obligations of providing official development assistance, climate financing and other financial and technical support to developing countries, and they keep squeezing the rights, interests and space of developing countries in global economic governance. Some countries, putting their own interests before those of others, attempt to politicize and marginalize development issues. They go to great lengths to build “a small yard with high fences”, form exclusive groupings, and clamor for severing supply chains and decoupling. Taking economic and financial relations as a weapon, they willfully impose maximum sanctions on others, and stoke division and confrontation. These negative moves which go against the trend of history have brought systemic and structural disruption and destruction to international development cooperation.
Third, the digital and green transformation is a “double-edged sword”. The pandemic hastened digital and green development across the world. New business models and forms and new industries are taking shape at a faster pace. Many people believe the digital economy and green economy are the major driving forces for global economic growth in the future and will reshape the global competition and cooperation landscape. This provides new opportunities for developing countries to emerge from their disadvantaged position and achieve leapfrog development. That being said, due to weak foundation, backward technology and funding shortage, many developing countries face the challenges of digital divide and green traps and risk being left further behind in global green and digital development in the post-pandemic era. The UN estimated that nearly half of the world’s population still lacked Internet access in 2021, most of which live in developing countries. Research of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that in developing countries there is a dire lack of funds and technologies to cope with climate change. The spillover effect of the carbon border adjustment mechanism established by some developed economies may also exacerbate problems such as shrinking export and foreign exchange.
Overall, facing the mounting challenges and difficulties, people across the world have a stronger desire for peace, development and cooperation. EMDCs are more resolved to seek strength through unity, and more eager to seize the tremendous opportunities brought by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation.
II. The GDI is the “golden key” to revitalize the cause of global development.
Facing the question of our times as to where the cause of global development is headed, President Xi Jinping, with keen appreciation of the evolution of human society and from the perspective of revitalizing the cause of global development and improving the well-being of humanity, proposed the GDI at the 76th UNGA session. The GDI is aimed at refocusing international attention on development issues, bringing development back to the center of the international agenda, and underscoring the centrality of development in global governance. It demonstrates China’s firm support for the cause of global development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and draws a blueprint for the development of countries and international development cooperation. The essence of the GDI can be captured by six principles and eight areas of action.
First, prioritizing development. The GDI stresses putting development high on the global macro policy agenda, strengthening policy coordination among major economies, and ensuring policy continuity, consistency and sustainability. It calls for fostering global development partnerships that are more equal and balanced, forging greater synergy among multilateral development cooperation processes, and speeding up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Second, putting people front and center. The GDI calls for safeguarding and improving people’s livelihood, and protecting and promoting human rights through development, and making sure that development is for the people and by the people and that its fruits are shared among the people. It urges continuous efforts to see that the people will have a greater sense of happiness, benefit and security, and achieve well-rounded development.
Third, pursuing benefits for all. The GDI calls for caring about the special needs of developing countries, and employing such means as debt suspension and development aid to help developing countries, particularly vulnerable ones facing exceptional difficulties, and address unbalanced and inadequate development among and within countries.
Fourth, promoting innovation-driven development. The GDI proposes to seize the historic opportunities created by the latest round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, redouble efforts to harness technological achievements to boost productivity, and foster an open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory environment for the development of science and technology. It calls for efforts to foster new growth drivers in the post-pandemic era, and jointly achieve leapfrog development.
Fifth, upholding harmony between man and nature. The GDI stands for improving global environmental governance, actively responding to climate change and creating a community of life for man and nature. It advocates accelerating the transition to a green and low-carbon economy and achieving green recovery and development.
Sixth, taking results-oriented actions. The GDI calls for increasing input in development, advancing on a priority basis cooperation on eight areas of action, namely, poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy, and connectivity, and accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a view to building a global community of development with a shared future.
The GDI addresses the most urgent and deep-seated problems of global development and answers the most pressing and fundamental needs of developing countries. It has provided an effective platform for synergizing development policies and deepening practical cooperation, steered the course and proposed the roadmap for pooling global development resources and strengths, and opened a “fast track” for global development. The GDI is an accelerator for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has boosted countries’ political commitment and global development resources, and injected strong impetus to mobilizing resources from all quarters, overcoming the constraints of development, and enhancing coordination for greater efficiency. At the same time, following the spirit of open and inclusive partnership and the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the GDI is open to all countries, and represents another major public good China has provided for the international community. The GDI has received warm response and active participation from the international community immediately after being introduced to the world. To date, more than 100 countries have expressed support for it and more than 50 countries have joined the Group of Friends of the GDI established by China at the UN.
III. The Dialogue is a new milestone of international development cooperation.
The complex international changes this year have further underscored the GDI’s major strategic value. The weakening momentum of world economic recovery, the flaring-up of tensions and conflicts across the globe, and the worsening disruptions of global industrial and supply chains brought by the Ukraine crisis have added to the difficulties of developing countries in terms of debt, energy supply and food security. There is a stronger call for advancing the implementation of the GDI at a faster pace and pooling global strengths and resources for common development to help developing countries tide over the difficulties and achieve recovery and development.
Facing the new situation and new challenges, China held the High-level Dialogue on Global Development in a “BRICS plus” format. With the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China invited fellow BRICS members and EMDCs with global representation and influence to make a joint appeal for advancing development. The Dialogue boosted global consensus and strengths for deepening international development cooperation, echoed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and paved the way for the further implementation of the GDI.
The foremost highlight is President Xi Jinping chairing and delivering important remarks at the Dialogue. President Xi expounded on the great significance of development based on China’s own development experiences and proposed fostering a development paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation and common prosperity. He made a four-point proposal on global development: First, jointly building international consensus on promoting development, putting development front and center on the international agenda and delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Second, jointly creating an enabling international environment for development, building an open world economy and shaping a global governance system and institutional environment that are more just and equitable; Third, jointly fostering new drivers for global development, promoting scientific, technological and institutional innovation and achieving stronger, greener and healthier global development; Fourth, jointly forging a global development partnership. The North and the South need to work in the same direction to forge a united, equal, balanced and inclusive global development partnership. In this process, no country or individual should be left behind.
President Xi’s important remarks directly addressed the most pressing needs of EMDCs, followed the historical trend of social development and human progress, and responded to the genuine wish of people around the world. The remarks have been highly acclaimed and warmly received by the participating leaders and in the wider international community. The participating leaders of the Dialogue echoed President Xi’s remarks and expressed welcome and support for President Xi’s important proposals including the GDI and the Global Security Initiative. It is widely recognized that given the severity of the current situation, particularly the imbalance in the global development paradigm, marginalization of development issues on the international agenda, and mounting challenges facing developing countries, China’s initiative of holding a high-level dialogue on global development is most relevant. It provides an opportunity and platform for countries to firm up their resolve in advancing sustainable development and strengthen development partnerships. It is conducive to overcoming common challenges around the world, mobilizing more resources for development, and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Another highlight of the Dialogue is its high-level participation and broad representation. The participants of the Dialogue are all major political leaders of countries with strong representation and international influence, including, other than BRICS leaders, the heads of state or government of important EMDCs such as Indonesia which holds the G20 Presidency, APEC Chair Thailand, CIS Chair Kazakhstan, ASEAN Chair Cambodia, the Pacific Island Forum host country Fiji, the CELAC Chair Argentina, AU Chair Senegal, SCO Chair Uzbekistan, the League of Arab States incoming Chair Algeria and Egypt, Ethiopia, Malaysia and Iran.
The participating leaders had in-depth discussions and reached extensive consensus on accelerating world economic recovery, deepening practical cooperation, implementing the GDI, and forging global development partnerships in the new era, accentuating the call of the times for common development and prosperity. The participating leaders expressed concerns over the regression on many SDGs, as the implementation time frame is almost halfway through, and called for joint efforts to find a solution to the urgent problems of food and energy security and financial stability. Many leaders emphasized the need for enhanced dialogue and coordination, and urged developed countries to live up to their obligations on development assistance and climate financing. In the meantime, developing countries also need to strengthen cooperation, jointly safeguard multilateralism and multilateral trading system, and foster a favorable environment for fighting global challenges and achieving sustainable development. The issues that are of concern to the participating leaders are highly compatible with the core principles and priority areas of the GDI. This fully demonstrates that the GDI has a solid consensual basis and meets the development needs of all parties.
IV. China has all along taken concrete actions to advance global development.
One can only travel far by keeping in mind the journey of the past. As the largest developing country in the world, China will always be a true friend and a good partner of developing countries and will always provide unreserved assistance for other developing countries to the best of its ability. At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, China announced a series of practical measures on implementing the GDI, demonstrating once again China’s commitment to promoting global development with real actions.
Forging global consensus on jointly promoting development. Focusing on global development issues, BRICS leaders joined leaders of other EMDCs in a discussion on the way forward for advancing global development, gathering strong international momentum for jointly promoting global development. The Chair’s Statement issued after the Dialogue fully captures the political consensus of the parties on jointly promoting global development, charts the course for further deepening global development cooperation and advancing the cause of global development, and demonstrates the EMDCs’ unanimous call and common resolve for promoting global development.
Announcing two development funding initiatives. President Xi Jinping announced at the Dialogue that China will upgrade the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund established by China to a Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund, with an additional input of US$1 billion on top of the US$3 billion already committed and increase input to the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund in support of cooperation under the GDI. China’s positive measures on increasing the input of development resources have won the accolade of all parties.
Building project-based platforms in eight major areas of cooperation. China has set up the platforms for project-based cooperation with global partners, especially developing countries, in the eight major areas of action proposed in the GDI, namely, improving global governance on poverty reduction, safeguarding global food security, deepening international cooperation on pandemic response, medicine and health, enhancing financing for sustainable development, advancing international cooperation against climate change, strengthening industrial cooperation, increasing digital capacity, and boosting connectivity in the digital age. These platforms have laid a solid foundation for deepening international development cooperation and substantiating the implementation of the GDI.
Strengthening intellectual support for global development. Enhancing the sharing of development knowledge is a highlight of the Dialogue, with important consensus reached among the parties. China has also put forth practical measures in this area. President Xi Jinping announced at the Dialogue that China will set up a platform for experience and knowledge sharing on international development, a global development promotion center and a global knowledge network for development, for the purpose of exchanging governance experience and promoting mutual learning. He also announced that China will host a global forum on youth development and take part in the launch of a global action plan on youth development, in a bid to pool as much strength as possible for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Before the Dialogue, the Center for International Knowledge on Development issued the Global Development Report, which included a number of popular policy recommendations for advancing global development and was highly praised by the outside world.
V. Global development is a never-ending process.
“The going can be tough when one works alone; but things will be easier when people work together.” President Xi Jinping emphasized at the Dialogue that “Only by working together can we accomplish big and great things with a far-reaching impact.” Development is the common pursuit of humanity and a common cause that requires the efforts of all countries. The GDI advocates an open and inclusive spirit of partnership. It is a public good for the entire world. Implementing the GDI is not a one-man show, but a symphony that requires the participation and collaboration of all parties around the world. Developed countries need to fulfill obligations, developing countries need to deepen cooperation, and the North and the South need to work in the same direction to forge a united, equal, balanced and inclusive global development partnership. In this process, no country or individual should be left behind. It is important that we support the UN in steering and coordinating global development cooperation, and encourage business communities, social groups, the media and think tanks to take part in such cooperation.
As a verse goes, “fear not the strong pass iron-clad on all sides! The summit’s now surmounted with big strides.” The High-level Dialogue on Global Development is a new starting point of international development cooperation. Global development is a never-ending process. In an age both rife with challenges and full of hope, we must follow the direction pointed by President Xi Jinping, get a good grasp of the overarching development trend in the world, firm up confidence, and act in unison and with great motivation to promote global development and foster a development paradigm featuring benefits for all, balance, coordination, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation and common prosperity.
“Keep walking and one will not be daunted by a thousand miles; make constant efforts and one will not be intimidated by a thousand tasks.” China will always be a practitioner and a contributor to the cause of global development. We will work hard to follow through on the outcomes of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development and promote the sound implementation of the GDI to deliver concrete benefits for the world. We will continue urging the international community to value and focus on development and keep building international consensus on jointly advancing development. We will work with global partners to create an enabling environment, foster new drivers and pool the strongest synergy for advancing the cause of global development, all in an effort to make new contributions to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, achieving global prosperity and progress, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Li Kexin is Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.