Opening Statement of the Launch of the China National Human Development Report 2013

27 Aug 2013

By Renata Dessallien

Resident Coordinator, United Nations China and Resident Representative, UNDP China

Beijing, China

Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good Evening and Welcome to the launch of the 2013 China National Human Development Report.  Thank you all for braving the Beijing rush-hour traffic to be with us this evening!

 I’d like to start by extending a special thanks to our close partner, the China Academy of Social Sciences, without whom this report and tonight’s launch would not have been possible. They have been a long time partners with UNDP over many years and we are delighted to produce this report with them.

This year’s report is entitled Sustainable and Liveable Cities: toward Ecological Civilization.  It was inspired by the fact that, for the first time in China’s long history, the country now has more urban than rural residents.   This recent milestone has tremendous implications for the country. It has drawn public attention and we’ve seen a number of studies appear on China’s urbanization in recent years, dealing mainly with environmental and climate change, as well as urban planning. 

The 2013 China National Human Development Report provides a different perspective on China’s urbanization. While it considers environmental and urban planning issues, it goes beyond them to capture a wide gamut of human development preoccupations -- including health, employment, housing, social services, culture.  And it views these human issues through a sustainable development lens.   It is, therefore, a study of China’s urbanization opportunities and challenges from a human development perspective.

The speed and scale of China’s urbanization are unprecedented and have ripple effects across the country and across society. How issues such as social inequalities and the ageing of the population are addressed in China will depend increasingly on measures taken within the municipal context. Transforming China’s development trajectory from an export dependent model to a consumption driven one, and to a sustainable, equitable pathway therefore hinges more and more on urban policy making and urban governance.

It is encouraging to see that the China’s leaders have sent out unequivocal signals that the government is committed to a successful and balanced urban transformation. Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that China must pursue a new type of urbanization – one that is human-centered and ensures the prosperity of people as a whole. The government of China is fully aware of the need to make sure that cities are more liveable, more human-centred, and more sustainable. We hope that this report adds to the national policy enquiries on this important topic. 

One of the findings in the report is that as China’s urban population grows, and as urban challenges become more complex, the government will need to find ways of integrating its policies making.  Urbanisation stands at the intersection of broad economic, social, political, cultural and environmental policy streams. As such it requires well integrated, coherent policies, which in turn requires coordination across sectors and across different levels of government. It also requires cooperation across government, private sector, social organisations and citizens. In a moment, Professor Pan Jiahua and Mr. Luis Gomez-Echeverri will introduce the key findings of the report.

This Report stems from fruitful collaborative between UNDP and the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. A team of prominent Chinese and international experts worked seamlessly on the research and drafting of this report, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks and warmest congratulations to all the authors, particularly Professor Pan Jiahua’s team for their outstanding work. We are also grateful to all the experts who helped us to review and ensure the quality of the report.

I’d also like to express our appreciation to the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Peace and Development Foundation, Leighton Asia, Tianyan Green Energy Corporation, Stora Enso and Veolia Group for their generous financial contributions to this report. And special thanks also go to the many UN colleagues for their valuable insights and assistance.

Thank you all once again for joining us to launch this report this evening. UNDP looks forward to working with all of you to help China make its urbanization sustainable and human-centred.