China can draw on its expertise and resources to help developing countries meet their Sustainable Development Goals as the pandemic continues to weigh on global efforts to eliminate poverty, inequality and conflict, analysts say.
This is of special significance as China observes the 50th anniversary of resuming its seat at the United Nations on Monday, and in keeping with the country”s experience in alleviating poverty, green development and international collaboration to meet the SDG targets and benefit the rest of the world.
“Given the resource constraints, some countries may find it challenging to factor in social, environmental, and economic sustainability in their respective development targets,” said Nawazish Mirza, professor of finance at Excelia Business School in France.
A collaborative effort is needed to meet the SDGs and ensure global prosperity, and as such, China’s support can be instrumental especially for developing countries, Mirza said.
The SDGs, approved by 193 UN members in 2015, aim to solve the world’s most pressing problems by 2030. They comprise 17 goals, including eradicating extreme poverty, halting deforestation, promoting gender equality and reducing conflict.
China aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent.
China’s pursuit of low-carbon growth can be a model to other countries that wish to do the same and, in the process, meet one of the SDG targets: cutting emissions by 45 percent by 2030 to limit global warming to well below 2 C, Mirza said.
“China is concentrating on promoting renewable energy and smart grids while limiting fossil fuel consumption,” Mirza said: “The model can help other countries establish low-carbon cities and green transport systems.”
Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist with the global consultancy IHS Markit, said China plays a key role in the UN by helping other developing countries to achieve the SDGs. This includes providing development financing through multilateral and bilateral assistance, as well as sharing technical knowledge and expertise in a wide range of economic development projects.
China-led initiatives such as the China-UN Peace and Development Fund and the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, both established in 2015, have been helping developing countries to achieve their SDGs, Mirza said.
Since the China-UN Peace and Development Fund was established six years ago, China has provided it a total of $120 million. The fund has supported 95 projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund has supported more than 100 livelihood projects in more than 50 countries, the ministry said, including responding to tropical cyclones, fighting against Ebola and COVID-19, promoting maternal and child health and dealing with refugee and migrant crises.
Siriwan Chutikamoltham, senior lecturer at the Nanyang Business School of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said China can help promote SDGs in developing countries through SDG-oriented direct foreign investment and partnerships with governments to achieve SDG goals.
“China is the largest source of direct foreign investment in Africa,” the academic said.” Most of the Chinese investment in these countries is in energy and transport projects that are important to attain several SDG targets such as (the development of) affordable and clean energy systems.”
Six years after the SDGs were adopted, most countries continue to lag behind, especially in eradicating poverty, taking action on climate change, reducing inequality and ending hunger.
In 2017, 689 million people were living on less than $1.90 a day compared with 741 million people living on that amount two years earlier. Because of the pandemic, that figure is expected to have risen again, according to the latest SDG progress report published by the UN in July.
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