UNDP China Resident Representative Beate Trankmann speaks at the UN Compound in Beijing

 

尊敬的孙晓秘书长,

Distinguished Mr. Joakim Abeleen

尊敬的王石先生,

I’m delighted to see you all at today’s Business Roundtable. This event kicks off our three-day Stakeholder’s Consultation in China, commemorating 50 years since the Stockholm Declaration. Stockholm was a watershed moment: the first time the world recognized the importance of protecting the environment to fight poverty. Today, you are part of that conversation, giving world leaders the chance to build on half a century of global action to save people and planet.

This discussion could not be more timely nor urgent. Because our earth faces a triple crisis: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

The carbon in our atmosphere is at its highest level in history. Around 7 million people die every year from air pollution[1] and we lose 200 species each day[2].

As the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said recently: “we are sleepwalking into climate catastrophe”.

Business-as-usual cannot continue. To keep the 1.5 degrees Paris target for global temperature rises alive – widely seen as the only safe limit – we must urgently decarbonize our economies, transform our societies and fundamentally reshape our relationship with nature.

This may sound impossible. But there is precedent for action on this scale. Our success in healing the ozone layer – after the world came together on this in 2013 – proves what is possible[3].

To achieve net zero, however, all of society must work together. The business sector – including each of you - has a key role to play in ensuring that we have a future for humanity and our planet.

As one of the largest economies, the impact of businesses in China adopting greener practices is enormous. This journey is already underway for many of you, and I look forward to hearing about the sustainability practices and decarbonization strategies you have initiated.

UNDP recognizes that the transformations required are often unprecedented and challenging.

That’s why our annual report on sustainability practices of enterprises in China, produced in collaboration with PwC and the China Chamber of International Commerce, aims to help companies to better understand the Sustainable Development Goals, and how to include them in their businesses. Sustainability goes beyond CSR and philanthropy. Rather, it is about putting people and the planet at the core of your business, so every stage of production is one our world can sustain. The triple bottom line’ – people, planet and profits – delivers stronger returns for all three. According to Harvard Business Review, sales in sustainable products grew five times faster than their rivals from[4] 2013 to 2019. Using fewer or greener resources can also cut production costs – with renewables now the cheapest energy source[5]. In an era of labour shortages, sustainability also retains staff: a survey by clean energy firm Swytch found 70 percent of employees said sustainability would affect their decision to stay.[6]

These benefits are realized by more companies every day. 95 percent of Chinese enterprises surveyed in our report last year were willing to implement SDG projects, and over half had already reported their SDG initiatives[7].  We will soon launch our third report in this series, and invite you all to join this year’s survey. Your thoughts and experiences on the shifts within your sectors, and the challenges you face, are invaluable, and can help inform future policymaking.

I thank our co-hosts, the United Nations Environmental Programme, for helping to organize today’s roundtable, as well as all panelists joining us online and in person. I’m confident that the insights gained here will enrich the policy dialogue over the following two days, to advance the conversation on climate action and accelerate systemic change.

While the path to net-zero is a steep climb, it is one we can and must conquer. We have the technology, we have the know-how. All we need is to work together.

Thank you!


 

[1] The UN Secretary-General speaks on the state of the planet | United Nations

[2] How many species are we losing? | WWF (panda.org)

[3] About | Stockholm+50

[4] https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/business-case-for-sustainability

[5] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/07/renewables-cheapest-energy-source/

[6] https://www.fastcompany.com/90306556/most-millennials-would-take-a-pay-cut-to-work-at-a-sustainable-company

[7] Pathway to Net Zero: SDG Practices of Enterprises in China | UNDP in China

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