Panel Discussion Chaired by Mr. Wang Huiyao, President of CCG
Let me zoom in on the first question that was posed to this roundtable regarding the major challenges faced by service industry companies in the wake of the pandemic and how governments can help them survive and provide a few reflections from a development perspective. It’s not only companies that are affected by the pandemic, but importantly also people.
For society and for business, it is critical to protect people, especially those most vulnerable. One way of doing so is to enhance social security systems to cover the informal sector that provides the vast majority of jobs and has been hardest hit by the pandemic. A social protection system that includes all will reduce inequalities and put money in the hands of people who are very likely to spend it—raising demand, including for services, and thus driving growth.
China can create the fiscal space to do this and already has the digital infrastructure to reach everyone in a cost-effective manner, so social protection and payments are delivered via digital wallets.
We saw during lockdown how the digital economy became a critical lifeline during the pandemic for billions of people.
Digital innovations enabled rapid scaling of support to vulnerable groups – from extending the reach of health systems, to securing livelihoods and access to basic goods through e-commerce, to allowing messaging platforms to serve as support networks within communities and families. China has a strong digital infrastructure and economy and this will be turned into further opportunities for business, while aiding the recovery along. What will be key however, is to ensure that the technologies and skills to use them are made available to everyone in all corners of the country, to avoid creating new divides.
Secondly, recovery is not only about business survival, but recovering into a better future for people and planet – so we do not cement the underlying vulnerabilities that led to the pandemic in the first place and the economic fallout we are now seeing.
For that to happen, policies must be designed to channel finance towards sustainability.
To incentivize and inform SDG financing, UNDP has recently developed some new tools. Our SDG Taxonomy that we launched in China earlier this year with investors, regulators and banks, aims to identify SDG-enabling projects for financing and assess their development impact. It does so by allowing investors to select, finance, monitor and measure investments in the SDGs.
We also helped develop SDG Bond and Private Equity Standards, guiding the use of proceeds and reporting on SDG-aligned investments.
In this regard, it is great to see that finance authorities have updated the China Green Industry Catalogue this year, aligning more with international standards and including green services for the first time – for example, green financial consulting - which can boost the green economy.
UNDP has also examined opportunities for China’s overseas investments to better support the SDGs. Last year, we published a report with China Development Bank on harmonizing investment standards for China and South-South partner countries, to guide sustainable, inclusive development globally.