Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of UNDP at the 2018 High Level Policy Forum on Global Governance: “Belt and Road Finance and Investment Forum”. First of all, I would like to thank all the partners contributing to this milestone event. I especially would like to acknowledge the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for supporting this Forum, our co-organizer the China Centre for International Exchange (CCIEE), our local host the Municipal Government of Guangzhou, as well as our communication partner Xinhua Outlook Weekly. I would also like to express my sincere welcome to all the representatives from the Chinese government and the high-representatives from the countries engaging the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), international and national financial institutions, development agencies, think tanks, private sector, local embassies as well as our UN family, who are here today.
I vividly recall my participation at this Forum two years ago. We successfully concluded the 2016 Forum with tangible results, policy recommendations and a shared vision of how the BRI can and should be aligned with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This shared vision is the key for the successful multilateral cooperation we all are seeking. We have achieved a lot since then, including baseline analysis of the economic and social impact of the BRI, research on linking the BRI with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as actively promoting sustainable business practice on the ground along the Belt and Road, just to mention a couple.
Building on this, the 2018 Forum will take one step further by looking into practical challenges as well as opportunities we are facing regarding financial cooperation and sustainable investment along the Belt and Road, in order to better generate significant development dividends for the countries and people involved.
Our world today is still facing major challenges. While there has been strides made on reducing extreme poverty, remaining inequality and exclusion undermine societies, economic progress, and increase the likelihood of conflicts. Hundreds of millions of people are threatened by climate change, exposed to environmental risks and still live in poverty making the 2030 Agenda central to sustainable development.
The needs to finance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are estimated at US$ 1 trillion annually at the global scale. A key challenge in the implementation of the SDGs is to allocate public resources and catalyze private investments in ways that are aligned with the SDGs – in essence all available resources would need to be aligned to meet the SDGs. The emergence of South-led multilateral institutions also provides new and expanded financing options that complement traditional financing modalities for development, opening up large-scale opportunities with a broader development impact. The BRI, given its massive investments and financing flows, can potentially unlock the resources needed and it’s our responsibility to do more by exploring how these investments can trigger or support “accelerators” for SDGs implementation.
The BRI’s pathway to success, however, is not without challenges for China and the countries engaging the initiative. It is important to recognize that investors and countries along the Belt and Road are still exposed to financial risks and liabilities, project failures, increasing public debt, a lack of capacity and transparency. Innovative solutions for financial cooperation, mitigation of investment risks and long-term stability in capital flows have to be actively implemented and aligned with inclusive and sustainable outcomes to leverage opportunities and effectively promote a new sustainable growth engine.
In addition, the 4th industrial revolution related challenges and opportunities cannot be discounted. While, artificial intelligence, automation, blockchain technology etc. can potentially yield significant benefits, it also threatens to blunt job creation, exacerbate existing inequalities and bias financial flows toward capital-intensive, often fossil-fuel driven investments. This also poses opportunities to the BRI to shift incentives and attenuate the downsides of these new technologies.
This year’s Forum aims at addressing these major challenges through strengthening dialogue and exchange of perspectives, deepening partnerships and advocating for sustainable development. Our main purpose is to support the creation of an enabling environment to substantially advance sustainable investments with major positive social and environmental impacts for the countries and people along the Belt and Road. This enabling environment allows building policy bridges among the various stakeholders from the public and private sectors to the academia and civil society organizations from all partner countries and beyond.
Considering this year’s theme, it is no coincidence, that the 2018 High Level Policy Forum and Business Dialogue is held here in Guangzhou, located at the center of the “Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA)”, the fourth biggest area of its type in the world that aspire to become a BRI forefront juncture. Cities, hubs and metropolitan areas play a key role in creating regional connectivity, in strengthening cooperation networks and in seeking innovation and will be, therefore, crucial in the advancement of sustainable development. This special location underscores the importance of cities and regional hubs and emphasizes their responsibility to embrace their function as focal lenses for connectivity and for the implementation of a sustainable and inclusive Belt and Road.
Forming strong partnerships and building capacity is the core of successful implementation of the BRI and the SDGs. As a long-term partner with an extensive global network and expertise, UNDP is proud and committed to further support China and all the countries engaging the BRI to achieve their development aspirations.
Finally, I would like to encourage you to take the enriching conversations to the next level, innovate ideas and propose tangible results for the way forward to shed light on the vast field of opportunities for sustainable finance and investments along the Belt and Road.
Thank you very much!