Mr. Devanand Ramiah, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China, providing a keynote speech at the 2019 Responsible Business Forum in Hainan, China


Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, it’s my pleasure to be here today at the Responsible Business Forum on Climate Innovation. I would like to thank our organizer, The Global Initiative, for hosting this event  together with the government of Haiku on what is undoubtedly one of the  pressing issues of our times  - building a zero -carbon and climate-resilient future.

Need for transformational change

Climate change is the existential threat of our generation.

We have known about the adverse impact of climate change for some time, however, what we have collectively doing to address it/ falls far short of the what is needed. Our rhetoric has not matched our actions.

Report after report is raising the alarm bells -- the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report indicates we are not on track to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report states 75% of the terrestrial environment has been “severely altered” by human actions and 1 million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.

We have a “moral, ethical and economic imperative” to act and act now.

I am generally an optimistic person, but I am concerned. I am very concerned. Because, cosmetic actions and marginal changes are no longer going to cut it – what is required is fundamental and transformational change.

It critical to transform our traditional development patterns, from high consumption, high pollution and high emissions into a green, low-carbon and circular development, which will help humans and nature to coexist more harmoniously in the future.

At this time of great concern, this forum brings hope and provides a cause for optimism. Because the people gathered in this room today, and the institutions and businesses you represent, gives expression to the ingenuity and partnerships that is required and has the potential to overcome this existential threat.

I want to touch on a few building blocks on reaching a zero carbon climate resilient future, which includes the roles and responsibilities of governments, private sector, international multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and role of climate innovation.

Role of government

The role of governments in addressing climate change is paramount, in this regard the commitment of the government of China is unparalleled. By 2018, China decreased carbon intensity by 45.8% compared with the level in 2005, which has exceeded the 2020 target that was set ahead of schedule. Non-fossil energy consumption accounts for 14.3% of primary energy consumption, which makes it possible to achieve the 15% of non-fossil energy consumption target by 2020.  The Implementation Plan on National Ecological Civilization Pilot Zone (Hainan) released recently, sets targets for natural resource conservation, GHG emission, environmental quality and resource utilization efficiency.

All of these illustrate China’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Role of private sector

Governments cannot do it alone. The role of businesses to mitigate and adapt to climate change through responsible business practices and climate innovation cannot be cannot be over emphasized.  Responsible business is good for business. Enterprises and investment firms that prioritize sustainability are not just growing—they’re thriving.

In the 12 years since the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) were launched, the number of investment firms committed to sustainability has grown from 63 with US$6.5 trillion to 1,715 with US$81.7 trillion in assets under management.

Climate innovation

Climate innovation holds the key to achieving low-carbon and sustainable growth. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already underway. Artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, robotics, nanotechnologies and other exciting advances are rapidly reshaping our economies and communities. Their emergence makes it more important than ever that countries ensure their policies not only keep pace with technological developments but also encourage to apply them to sustainable development – a win-win for the environment and the economy.

UNDP has been working on climate innovation together with the government, private sector and other stakeholders: 1) In Zhejiang province UNDP is applying energy efficient green logistics technology to reduce overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the logistics industry. I had the privilege to launch the first ever green logistics index as part of it.

2) Together with MOST and provincial governments, UNDP has been supporting the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China. Hydrogen can be produced from many renewable energy sources and has zero emissions. According to projections by 2025 FCVs will make up 17.5% of the world’s vehicles. By 2050, FCVs will create 30 million job opportunities. At present, China has rolled out a national fuel cell vehicle roadmap and policy incentives at the central level with development plans in place in over 11 provinces and cities. 3) UNDP is working with MoHURD on increasing energy efficiency of public buildings. 4) UNDP is working with MIIT on energy efficient motors

The key message here is that government at all levels should facilitate the enabling environment, to incentivize the private sector to innovate and be responsible businesses. Public-private partnership is the essential key to fostering climate innovation and in creating a zero-carbon climate resilient future.


Ladies and gentlemen,

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement provide once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the lives of billions and to respond to the universal challenge of climate change. We must embrace the opportunity as this is all within our grasp, if we pursue a common vision, build stable and efficient institutions, invest in our people, and pursue climate action with passion.

2019 marks UNDPs 40-year anniversary in China, and we at UNDP are privileged to have witnessed and walked alongside China in its significant achievements in poverty reduction but also addressing climate change. Moving forward, UNDP stands ready to continue this journey and work with the government, private sector and other partners to tackle the existential challenges of our generation and to meet the SDGs by 2030.

I would like to close by quoting from the statement in the Joint Appeal from the UN System to this year’s Climate Action Summit, which will take place in  September in New York “Achieving our goal will require changes on an unprecedented scale at all levels, but it is still possible if we act now by pursuing ambitious climate actions with opportunities for innovations in advancing sustainable development. ”

Let’s join hands to contribute to a healthier, cleaner and more inclusive world together. I wish all of you the best in the rest of the proceedings.

Thank you!

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