Rio+20: China shares achievements from three decades of development

Jun 21, 2012

In the midst of the Rio+20 Summit, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese government have held three separate side-events, each reflecting one of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 18-20 June, these events represent a significant advancement in UNDP’s strategic partnership with China to promote and share its development experiences over the past three decades with other developing countries.

Organised in partnership with the Chinese State Council’s Leading Group on Poverty Reduction and Development, the first event was held on 18 June and focused on China’s achievements in poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals.

Discussions were also held on how organisations like the International Poverty Reduction Centre in China (IPRCC) are working towards the global achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through international cooperation. Drawing on support and guidance from UNDP, the IPRCC has been an active participant in global development issues since its inception in 2005, providing training building of partnerships between China and Africa.

“As the second largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, China is a leading actor in the efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development globally,” said Yannick Glemarec UNDP/GEF Executive Coordinator and UNDP Director for Environmental Finance. “UNDP has played an active role in China’s journey down this sustainable development path and remains committed to this pursuit in the future.”

Technological innovation, the potential of green technologies and climate change mitigation were at the centre of the second event, held on 19 June. This time, UNDP joined the Ministry of Science and Technology to highlight some of China’s efforts to promote the transfer of green technologies, as well as its own efforts to establish a green economy. And green economic development was also at the heart of the third event held on 20 June, entitled simply “China’s Green Transformation: Efforts, Practices and Future”.

Having been labelled as the most important global meetings on sustainable development, China is seen as a pivotal country in determining the success of the outcomes established at Rio+20. With this in mind, the event sought to capitalise on the convening power of the UN Summit and UNDP’s global network to introduce the Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21. China was one of the first countries to formulate and implement its Agenda 21 strategy and this new unit will spearhead further research into sustainable development.

“While robust economic growth is undoubtedly critical, it is also crucial that China prioritises the quality and sustainability of its growth while the economy is still growing,” said Veerle Vanderweerd, UNDP Director of the Environment and Energy Group Bureau for Development Policy. “In this endeavour research and planning will be critical.”

Vice Minister of Science and Technology Wang Weizhong, addressed the side event, where he called for closer cooperation with UNDP in sharing China's experiences with other developing countries through the framework of South-South Cooperation. The event was moderated by CCTV Anchor, Tian Wei and led to a highly interactive panel discussion.

Agenda 21 is the action plan of the United Nations related to sustainable development and was an outcome of the last Rio Earth Summit to be held in Rio de Janeiro – the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). As such, it formed a blueprint for global, national, and local action by organisations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area where humans directly affect the environment.

It is anticipated that Rio+20 will result in a similar conference document that lists a plan of action through which shared challenges can be addressed globally and collectively.

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