Nicholas Rosellini: Launch of Center for International Knowledge on Development

Aug 21, 2017

UN Resident Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative 

Excellency Mr. Li Wei, President of the Development Research Center of the State Council of China,

Excellency Mr. Li Baodong, Vice Minister of Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Excellency Mr. Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of Ministry of Commerce,

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure to join you here today

Two years ago at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit member states reached a landmark agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adopting such a universal and comprehensive agenda for sustainable development was an important turning point for the United Nations and nations around the world

At this summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a series of pragmatic initiatives to support the 2030 Agenda, including establishing the Center for International Knowledge on Development – or CIKD, whose launch we are celebrating today.

Over the past two years, China has carried out a number of important measures that have served to promote sustainable development. These include: the Belt and Road Initiative, the reform of the global governance structure, the deepening of national-level reform, and the overall sustainable and balanced development of Chinese society.  

Today, we witness the establishment of CIKD, together with the release of “China’s Report on Progress in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Both these events represent China’s leadership in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and also lay the important groundwork for initiatives that will promote sustainable development going forward.

Knowledge plays a critical role in furthering the agenda for sustainable development. For some nations, the systemic application of development knowledge has been key to long-term progress, while for others, a lack of development knowledge or an inability to apply it effectively has proved to be a major bottleneck for development.

For a long time, China has assumed an important role not only in terms of provision of development knowledge, but also in in terms of contributing to new platforms and mechanisms related to development knowledge. In 2004, UNDP helped China to establish the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, and in 2012 World Bank and China also co-developed a knowledge hub. Both aimed to provide other nations with development experiences from China. These are just two of many examples in which China has contributed to the dissemination of development knowledge and good practice.

Yet, the demand for development knowledge among developing countries is still growing and has not been fully satisfied by existing platforms.

With a growing diversity of global development issues, developing countries face a greater need to learn from the successful experiences of their counterparts for knowledge on specific strategies, solutions, policies, technology, and personnel training, among other aspects. I have often heard the great interest of officials from developing countries in Asia and Africa to learn from China’s poverty alleviation achievements; yet, at the same time, they lack practical learning materials and tools to translate these experiences into local policies and programmes. As such, despite an extensive amount of research, publications, and training related to poverty alleviation and development in the Chinese context, there still exists a considerable gap in the application of this development knowledge in Africa and other regions.

Hence, there is huge potential for CIKD to function as an effective mechanism to fill this gap. As communicated, the CIKD aims to expand the research relating to development experiences, as well as facilitate a greater exchange of development knowledge by utilizing the collective capacities of the academic and educational training sectors, government, CSO, international organizations, and the private sector. Therefore, I expect that the CIKD will promote the diversification of development research and the exchange of development knowledge among developing countries, and that it will learn from existing knowledge institutions and platforms in developing itself into a new and effective China-based global think tank.

With respect to today’s paradigm of global development, I hope that the CIKD attach importance to the following two aspects:

Firstly, solutions need to be contextualized to the specific country needs and its economic, social, political, and geographic circumstances. Different countries have different priorities, different strengths, and different weaknesses in development, and therefore, successful strategies in one country may not prove to be as effective in another country. For instance, some experiences from China have proved to be appropriate and effective in theory and practice, but can only be introduced to other developing countries in accordance with their status and demands. Knowledge work should therefore pay greater attention to summarizing the methodology of successful development practices while understanding the development outcome itself has to be localized.

Secondly, development knowledge and strategies need to be forward looking. Given its complexity and universality, the SDG-era of development will need new approaches, tools and platforms.

The new context includes: the growing conflict between globalism and protectionism, new and emerging forms of inequality and multidimensional poverty that challenge social inclusion, and the ongoing processes of rapid technological and industrial growth that – while tremendously beneficial in some aspects – have also posed concerns relating to unemployment and the lack of decent jobs for many people. Other global trends such as demographic changes may further create intergenerational challenges later on, and the environmental pressure is forcing the planet to a pathway of green growth. In such context, work relating to development knowledge will require a great amount of innovation, coordination, mutual learning and adaptation among countries, and persistent trial and error in practice. An effective platform like CIKD will be crucial for frequent communication and exchanges between countries for advancing the utilization of development knowledge.    

China’s role in global development is becoming increasingly important. Not only has China accumulated numerous successful development experiences over the past 40 years, but it is also continuously generating knowledge on development throughout its process of SDG realization. In follow up to China’s release of “National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in 2016, today’s report will provide the world with more insights about China’s accomplishments over the past two years.

The United Nations has actively promoted the exchange of development knowledge between China and other countries and have a long tradition of cooperating with the Chinese think tanks, including the Development and Research Center of the State Council. At the outset, I understand UNDP and CIKD will collaborate on research on human development and development effectiveness. UNICEF will work with CIKD on childhood nutrition and experience sharing with Africa.

There is also joint work with UNIDO and World Bank on industrial park development, to list just a few.  I look forward to see fruitful output from our cooperation.

In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to our partners, the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Development Research Center of the State Council, for launching CIKD and SDG report. Given the presence of much collective wisdom, I hope today’s discussion will be fruitful and provide a strong jumping off point for the future endeavors of the CIKD, as well as for the continued implementation of the SDGs in China.

Thank you

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