UNDP Administrator Helen Clark completes official visit to China

United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark concluded a week-long visit to China today. Since arriving in China on 27 August, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark engaged in a busy schedule of bilateral meetings with state leaders, national counterparts, visiting development projects and participating in the opening session of the China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, Xinjiang.

Straight off her arriving flight, Ms. Clark dived straight into her official agenda, meeting Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on 27 August to discuss UNDP and China’s South-South cooperation in climate change. Later that day the two were joined by President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Wang Weiguang to launch the 2013 UNDP China National Human Development Report: Sustainable and Liveable Cities: Toward Ecological Civilization.

On 28 August the Administrator met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi to discuss matters of mutual interest – of greatest importance were opportunities for UNDP to work with China on south-south cooperation, issues of global governance, and the post-2015 MDGs.

Ms. Clark then spent the rest of the day inspecting UNDP’s project work at several sites around Beijing. A visit to a UNDP-Macao joint forestry site near Koutou village to develop carbon sequestration methods was followed by a trip to the Bohai Township Central Primary School, where the Administrator met students to talk about the importance of living an eco-friendly lifestyle before presenting them with a carbon calculator, to help them keep track of their impact on the environment. The afternoon was spent in Sancha village, where UNDP and the Global Environment Facility have been cooperating to install energy-saving hypocaust heating systems in rural homes to help reduce carbon emissions and protect the surrounding forests.

A highly productive meeting with new Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng took place on Thursday, at which Minister Gao pledged to increase the UNDP core funding to six million US$, and a further increase of three million US$ in funding to the work of UNDP in China. Minister Gao said MOFCOM would also continue to work with other ministries to increase their support. He congratulated the new UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia-Pacific Director Mr Xu Haoliang, a Chinese national, and thanked UNDP for the secondment of two MOFCOM officials to UNDP HQ, and said he hoped this could continue in the future.

Later that day the Administrator met with Mr. Li Liguo, Minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Both parties expressed their appreciation for ongoing partnership on creating an enabling environment for social organizations and disaster risk reduction, including the sharing of experiences between China and South Asian countries (with funding from the UK).

On the evening of Thursday 29 August, Ms. Clark launched another report – this time on global governance entitled Reconfiguring Global Governance – Effectiveness, Inclusiveness, and China’s Global Role. The report calls for greater enfranchisement of developing nations in global governance institutions and Ms. Clark echoed this, stating that “As global citizens, we face an unprecedented number of shared environmental, social, and economic challenges. We depend on effective global governance to address such challenges.” The report was a joint product of a UNDP-CCIEE partnership and UNDP was delighted that CCIEE’s Zeng Peiyan graced the occasion.

The next day, Helen Clark met Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing. Ms. Clark noted that UNDP has supported China on environmental concerns for more than 25 years, and that it intends to further strengthen the cooperation with Ministry of Environmental Protection in the coming years, especially with respect to the Montreal protocol, Biodiversity Convention and the new Minamata Convention on Mercury.

That evening, the Administrator met with the leaders of MOFCOM, SASAC as well as 20 CEOs of Chinese companies. Discussions were held on how to promote the sustainable development of Chinese companies in overseas markets and the need to further develop corporate social responsibility activities in their investments abroad and to be sensitive to local political, cultural and social realities. “With the global work of UNDP and its specific value as an international platform, a global network of expertise and a partner of governments, private sector and civil society,” said Ms. Clark, “UNDP can help Chinese companies to play a bigger and positive role in fostering sustainable development”.

Mr. Wang Chao, the Vice Minister of Commerce, expressed a strong commitment to strengthening cooperation with UNDP to encourage Chinese companies to adopt sustainable business models as they “go global”.

The Administrator then travelled to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region over the weekend to attend the opening of the 2013 China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi. In her address she noted the value of such cross-border interaction:

“UNDP has development programmes and country offices for all Eurasian countries.We are not only immersed in the specific context of each country, but also appreciate the shared challenges. That leads us to be an enthusiastic proponent of sharing knowledge and experience through South-South and trilateral co-operation.”

Finally, Ms. Clark also took the opportunity in Xinjiang to meet with Chinese Vice-Premier Li Yuanchao, the second such official interaction between the two. During the meeting, Li Yuanchao acknowledged the value of UNDP’s work in China, pointing out its three major contributions: 1. Bringing in and spreading advanced ideas and concepts, such as sustainable human development; 2. Helping to train Chinese Government officials, including officials from central to local levels; 3. Piloting new approaches to solving China’s development challenges in poverty reduction, governance and environmental protection. He also warmly praised the progress made on supporting China’s South-South and Trilateral cooperation, expressing his wish to see this work expand.