尊敬的 唐章昭 副秘书长，
尊敬的 张翼 副主任，
尊敬的 饶程 副主任，
我很高兴 继去年之后 再次回到这个让我流连忘返的城市—— 那就是“天府之都”，
It is a pleasure to join the inaugural Re:Think Conference for Innovation and Sustainable Development today!
Digitalization is transforming our world. New technologies offer fresh solutions to address complex global challenges, with the potential to boost resilience and unlock long-term, sustainable prosperity for people and planet. From cloud computing and big data, to fintech and blockchains, technology can expand access to goods and services that support development, while placing vulnerable people at the center of innovation.
The changes that digitalization is already bringing are impossible to ignore. They will shape the future and have massive implications for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, to end poverty and protect the planet.
At today’s Re:Think Conference, we aim to reimagine and redefine sustainable development in the 21st century, by exploring the transformative power of technology. As an innovation hub, with a Hi Tech Zone, where thousands of companies are working at the forefront of digitalization, Chengdu is the perfect place to spearhead this conversation. We’re bringing together stakeholders from all around the world – from the government, to the private sector, academia, and international organizations – and it’s wonderful to see that, despite the pandemic, so many leading experts are able to join us remotely … relying on tech.
Today, we will also be launching the SPARK Lab, UNDP’s first government-funded SDG innovation lab here in China. As the largest UN development agency, UNDP works in 170 countries and territories across the globe to achieve the SDGs – helping to reduce inequalities and exclusion, as well as safeguard our world for future generations. In pursuit of this mission, over the past several years, UNDP has put great effort into creating innovation labs around the world and building a Global Innovation Network, to pioneer new solutions to global issues.
In Mongolia, for example, we are using blockchain to help sustainably source cashmere and assist cashmere producers in bringing their goods to market. In Serbia, we are employing a similar technology, to enable a less expensive way for remittances to be sent home or to pay utilities. We have also used satellite imagery and geospatial analysis in 50 countries for disaster recovery and to monitor droughts, floods and coastal erosion.
We now have 90 labs covering 114 countries, addressing a wide range of issues, such as social inclusion, public services, and even tackling plastic pollution. These labs are what we call a “learning network”, where the solutions we identify can be shared across the globe. The Chengdu SPARK Lab will now join this global network, and be able to draw on worldwide experiences and lessons, harnessing science, technology, and innovative finance to tackle the development challenges of the 21st century here in China and abroad.
The pandemic has made the benefits of digitalization abundantly clear. In midst of the lock-downs and restrictions to mobility, digital platforms have been a lifeline for hundreds of millions– from widening the reach of health systems, to safeguarding jobs and access to basic goods through e-commerce. Within the next decade, the digital economy is expected to grow and make up 25% of global GDP. 
At the same time, we must be cautious. Great care is needed to ensure that new technologies support, rather than undermine human development, by exacerbating inequalities. In 2019, 87 percent of people in developed countries used the Internet, compared with just 19 percent in the least developed countries.  Here in China, internet penetration in rural areas stands at around 55.9 percent, while in urban areas, it is 79.8 percent.  If technologies – and the skills to use them – are not accessible to everyone, new divides will open up.
Moving forward, UNDP remains committed to channeling tech-based solutions to advance the SDGs. This year the SPARK lab is already exploring how digitalization can be used to support vulnerable groups and prevent people from falling back below the poverty line. We are excited to get to work and there’s no time to waste!
In closing, I want to thank our co-hosts and partners, the Chengdu Hi Tech District Government and China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE). Without their support, none of this would have been possible. I look forward to sharing innovative ideas, exchanging experiences, and forging new partnerships for international development cooperation in this digital era.
In the post-pandemic world, let’s rethink how we can grow our economies more sustainably, and build back better for our planet and society. Together, we can harness technology for good, so life on earth endures, and no one is left behind.