Nicholas Rosellini: Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit Beijing Forum

Nov 21, 2017

Nicholas Rosellini

UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, China

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in China, it is my great pleasure to participate in the Sino-European Entrepreneurs Summit – Beijing Forum. First and foremost, please allow me to express my gratitude to the Organizing Committee, Beijing Chaoyang Municipal Government and China Overseas Development Association (CODA) for the warm invitation and efforts in organizing such an important event.

Today we are here to discuss and explore how the world can better work together to tap into emerging economic growth opportunities. The exchange is timely. The world economy is warming up. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the world economy will grow at 3.5% in 2017, up from 3.1% last year, and 3.6% in 2018[1]. Increased activity can be seen in both manufacturing and trade across advanced, emerging and low-income economies.

We all agree that emerging markets and developing economies have become vital economic growth engines globally. They now account for close to 80% of global economic growth, almost double their share from 20 years ago[2]. Their remarkable rise can be attributed to a wide range of enabling external conditions that support free trade and capital flows.

While the world economy is on the upward trend, how can countries maintain the momentum and safeguard the global recovery? While there is no one-size-fits all measure for diverse economies at different stages of development, one thing that contributes is a continued commitment to global cooperation through effective partnerships that further facilitate economic integration. Free trade. The latter has been a catalyst of growth, driving impressive per capital income gains and declines in poverty around the globe. China, without doubt, has been one of the largest beneficiaries of globalization over the past 20 years.

The role of trade and global cooperation cannot be emphasized enough in the development era led by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The need to harness interdependence for sustainable growth is highlighted in view of the wide range of challenges that spill over across national borders – not just trade.

There are many more on the list, including poverty and hunger, climate change, inequality global health issue etc., just to name a few.

All of these matter for growth and its sustainability through a web of inter-related social-economic and political channels. To ensure that these fundamental challenges are addressed requires a holistic approach that ensures gains from leveraging inter-dependence are broadly shared by everyone.

To achieve this requires inclusive cooperation. This means multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral participation. It not only pertains to government, but is particularly relevant to the private sector. They play a direct role in ensuring targeted investments not only generate sound profit but also positive development outcomes that contribute to the SDGs.

The SDGs require an annual investment of $5-$7 trillion per year globally[3]. Developing countries alone require $3.3-$4.5 trillion annually, mainly for basic infrastructure, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as health and education.

To bridge and integrate efforts of all to achieve inclusive economic prosperity, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) led by China provides timely and unprecedented opportunities. The initiative places a great emphasis on connectivity in trade and investment as potential accelerators of regional integration. We believe that the BRI could achieve much more, especially with the participation of the private sector as an active implementer of the SDGs.

A two-pronged agenda could be useful. One is on social impact investing that is targeted to ensure adequate social protection and inclusion alongside economic rewards through investments that they could bring about. The other is on sustainable business practices that help generate positive impact on the local context where it operates.

One way to realize this - according to the Principles for Responsible Investment - is to build business models squarely around addressing environmental, social and governance factors when investing and incorporate these issues into financial performance analyses and decision-making processes.

Evidence shows that Chinese multi-nationals are making progress in responsible investing. The Report on the Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises Overseas which we jointly launched at the Belt and Road Forum with Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of Ministry of Commerce, and the Research Center of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, provides such information through results of questionnaire survey and case studies looking at 550 State-Owned Enterprises and private sector companies. For instance, more than half of the surveyed companies have conducted Social Impact Assessments before project implementation, and nearly 67% of them have carried out Environmental Impact Assessments for their overseas projects.

Undoubtedly, this is a promising start. As the 2017 Report recommended, there is much more that can be done to achieve greater impacts on sustainability, ranging from further awareness raising, risk management, legal protection to sustainability strategic project planning, just to name a few. While we are talking about working together today, enterprises could learn from each other about what they have done good in their own countries.

This is what China and Europe can jointly promote through experience sharing and ideas exchange.

UNDP has been supportive of the BRI and expressed commitment early on as the first international organization to sign an MoU with the Government of China. During the Belt and Road Forum this May, we signed a follow-up action plan with the National Development and Reform Commission to specify next steps to implement the BRI.

We believe that through the BRI, China has put forward a far-reaching and innovative development cooperation framework, under which inclusive economic growth could be widely realized. Once again, please allow me to thank the organizers for such a wonderful event and I look forward to a stimulating discussion with all of you.

Thank you very much!

 

 

[1] https://blogs.imf.org/2017/04/18/global-economy-gaining-momentum-for-now/

[2] https://blogs.imf.org/2017/04/12/emerging-markets-and-developing-economies-sustaining-growth-in-a-less-supportive-external-environment/

[3] http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2014_en.pdf

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