UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang


November 3, Beijing United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner made his first official visit to China, from October 29 to November 3, to hold high-level discussions on UNDP’s strategic partnership with China, the reform of the UN development system, and China’s contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development both at home and around the world.

The highlight of the trip was a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang where the two parties discussed the country's development achievements and UNDP's contributions. Against the backdrop of the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening Up, the meeting marks a historic milestone in UNDP’s long-standing cooperation with the Chinese government.

Mr. Steiner expressed his appreciation for Premier Li's support to UNDP’s work. He added that UNDP continues to count on China’s leadership role in supporting multilateral engagement, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), innovation, piloting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and South-South Cooperation. “UNDP will continue to be a dedicated partner to China and ready to share its development experiences with other developing countries,” he said.

Premier Li called on both sides to jointly address global challenges and help countries to improve the capacity of independent and sustainable development under the framework of South-South cooperation. Furthermore, he highlighted the continued need for development cooperation with China as the largest developing country.

During a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), Mr. Zhong Shan, Minister of MOFCOM appreciated the strong cooperation between China and UNDP for the last 40 years, in particular its advice to ‘Reform and Opening-up’ process. Mr. Steiner reaffirmed that with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all parties share a continued commitment to future collaboration on sustainable development.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Mr. Steiner and Mr. Zhang Zhun, Assistant Minister of MOFA, discussed the ongoing UN reform and UNDP’s strategic role as well as future collaboration on global development cooperation. Mr. Steiner welcomed China’s continued strong support to multilateralism and UNDP’s development mandate.

He then attended a meeting with Mr. Ning Jizhe, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Mr. Steiner and Mr. Ning reinforced the shared commitment to strengthening cooperation between UNDP and China on sustainable development and the Belt and Road Initiative.

Mr. Steiner also met with Mr. Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology (MOST). They emphasized that UNDP and China have been harnessing technology and innovation for development solutions for 40 years, ranging from tech-based poverty alleviation in rural areas to promoting hydrogen economy through fuel cell technologies, as well as establishing innovation labs to tackle development challenges.

The Administrator later held a meeting with Mr. Li Ganjie, Minister of Ecology and Environment (MEE). Topics discussed included UNDP's appreciation for China’s effort to link biodiversity protection and linking ecological conservation with poverty alleviation.

During the visit, Mr. Steiner also co-chaired the annual China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED). He emphasized the importance and timeliness of the Council's work and highlighted China's progress on a range of environmental issues including tackling pollution and climate change, and its overall focus on ecological civilization and sustainable development.

During a policy dialogue hosted by UNDP China, he delivered a keynote speech addressing the urgent need for multilateralism in achieving the SDGs.  “Never have we witnessed changes in the environment like we are living through right now. Planetary boundaries are being reached,” he said. “The choices we make today will define for generations the scope of having a choice or not,” he added.

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