April 25, Beijing - The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is being held in Beijing this week from April 25-27. With the theme of “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”, the forum is a platform that aims to bring countries together under the BRI framework. Xu Haoliang, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Development Programme is in attendance. During the forum's first day, he delivered two speeches.
The first speech highlighted the launch of a joint report between Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) and UNDP. Entitled “Fostering Sustainable Development through Chinese Overseas Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones along the Belt and Road”, the report analyzes how and to what extent Chinese Overseas Economic and Trade Cooperation Zones (COCZs) contribute to economic, environmental and social sustainability in their host countries. It also presents Practical Guidelines for the creation of COCZs that are sustainable, and recommendations for implementing these guidelines.
COCZs in BRI partner countries serve as platforms for attracting public and private investments that advance infrastructure development, industrialization and job creation. These zones can play a key role in fostering inclusive and sustainable infrastructure development and industrialization that enables sustained economic growth, while creating decent jobs and income, reducing poverty and inequalities, improving health and well-being, increasing resource and energy-efficiency and lowering carbon emissions. According to data from MOFCOM, by 2018, over 100 COCZs had been established or were under construction; those zones have made total investments of over USD 40 billion, paid over 3 billion in taxes to host countries and created over 300,000 local jobs.
The second speech highlighted the launch of UNDP’s Belt and Road Green Lighting Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to share China’s lighting experiences internationally to help other countries find more energy efficient lighting solutions. This year marks the 40th anniversary of UNDP in China. For the last two decades, UNDP has worked with China to phase out incandescent lamps, transform LED marketization and promote Solid State Lighting. Thanks in large part to these efforts, in 2018, China’s total carbon emissions were reduced by 220 million tons by switching to LED lighting, the equivalent of taking 48 million cars off the road. Learning from China’s experience can contribute to developing countries achieving low carbon development and avoiding the carbon-intensive and inefficient development path followed in the past by developed countries.