A shared vi­sion for Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

We live in a world of in­creas­ing in­ter­de­pen­dency and com­plex­ity, where in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion is nec­es­sary, how­ever in­creas­ingly mul­ti­fac­eted and com­pli­cated. Global chal­lenges such as cli­mate change, global health and se­cu­rity is­sues re­quire ever-higher de­grees of global ef­fort and col­lab­o­ra­tion if they are to be over­come. This calls for newideas on how to make global gov­er­nance work bet­ter for all coun­tries and peo­ple.

In the light of this, the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive (the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and 21st Cen­tu­ryMar­itime Silk Road), po­ten­tially the world’s largest eco­nomic cor­ri­dor, is part of a newtrend and an in­no­va­tive con­tri­bu­tion to global gov­er­nance. It rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity to build a shared vi­sion for com­mon pros­per­ity through re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, and could act as an ac­cel­er­a­tor for achiev­ing theUnit­edNa­tions Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive cov­ers a vast pop­u­la­tion of 4.4 bil­lion and an eco­nomic out­put of $21 tril­lion in more than 70 coun­tries in Asia and the Pa­cific, Europe and Africa. The ma­jor­ity of them are emerg­ing and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Through con­nec­tiv­ity, it aims to fos­ter trade, fi­nan­cial in­te­gra­tion and peo­ple-to-peo­ple bonds, while pro­mot­ing in­clu­sive­ness and win-win co­op­er­a­tion— hence re­shap­ing the land­scape of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion.

A key strength of the ini­tia­tive is that it strate­gi­cally tar­gets re­cip­i­ent coun­tries’ de­vel­op­ment gaps. Ac­cord­ing to a joint study by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, UNE­co­nomic and So­cial Com­mis­sion for Asia and the Pa­cific and theUN De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (Mak­ing itHap­pen, 2015), in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion alone, the to­tal fi­nanc­ing re­quire­ment for in­fra­struc­ture is $8.3 tril­lion be­tween 2010 and 2020, or $750 bil­lion per year.

While the ma­jor­ity of fi­nanc­ing is ex­pected from gov­ern­ment rev­enues, for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment will play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role— mak­ing the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive a pow­er­ful frame­work for fa­cil­i­tat­ing its flow.

Some coun­tries are al­ready fully en­gaged and in­vest­ment and trade are ex­pand­ing rapidly.

Out­bound di­rect in­vest­ment made by Chi­nese com­pa­nies to coun­tries along the Belt and Road reached $12 bil­lion in the first three quar­ters of 2015, up 66 per­cent year-on-year.

The ques­tion is how these in­vest­ments can bring not only eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, but also hu­man de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits along the way. The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive will con­trib­ute to im­proved in­fra­struc­ture and in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, but it should not stop there, and must also trans­form lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and help re­duce poverty and pro­tect the environment, and fa­cil­i­tate in­clu­sive so­cial de­vel­op­ment, con­tribut­ing to the achieve­ment ofUN Agenda 2030.

High­light­ing sus­tain­abil­ity is a crit­i­cal as­pect of the ini­tia­tive’s cred­i­bil­ity, and the syn­er­gies and com­ple­men­tar­i­ties be­tween ini­tia­tive and the SDGs can help cre­ate a win-win out­come. The ini­tia­tive’s suc­cess will crit­i­cally de­pend on the abil­ity to con­trib­ute to na­tional and lo­cal de­vel­op­ment ob­jec­tives, and in­ter alia im­prov­ing the liveli­hoods of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, through, for ex­am­ple cre­at­ing de­cent jobs, in­creas­ing ca­pac­i­ties and over­all liv­ing stan­dards.

The broader UN sys­tem, in­clud­ing agencies, such as United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme, UN Chil­dren’s Fund and UN In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion, is ready to play a fa­cil­i­tat­ing role to en­sure align­ment of the Belt Road Ini­tia­tive with the SDGs. UNDP re­cently signed an agree­ment with the gov­ern­ment of China, aim­ing to sup­port China and the other

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of law at Zhong­nan Univer­sity of Eco­nomics and Law. coun­tries along the Belt and Road in achiev­ing their de­vel­op­ment as­pi­ra­tions, build­ing more con­sen­sus, pro­vid­ing an­a­lyt­i­cal ba­sis for pol­i­cy­mak­ers to en­gage on the ini­tia­tive, and iden­ti­fy­ing prac­ti­cal projects cou­pled with in­vest­ments to en­sure that com­mon eco­nomic pros­per­ity will go handin-hand with in­clu­sive so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal gains.

The Global Gov­er­nance Forum brings to­gether 14 Belt and Road coun­tries, UNof­fi­cials, de­vel­op­ment prac­ti­tion­ers, think tanks and the pri­vate sec­tor to ex­plore a col­lec­tive plan for con­crete ac­tions. This is just the be­gin­ning. We have a long road ahead of us, but all of us work­ing in theUNsys­tem truly be­lieve that de­vel­op­ment can be achieved only through a broader vi­sion bring­ing to­gether ideas, re­sources and part­ners with ca­pac­ity to reach the com­mon goal of shared pros­per­ity for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

The au­thor is UN res­i­dent co­or­di­na­tor and UNDP res­i­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive in China.

MA XUEJING / CHINA DAILY

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