Statement of Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly at the Plenary Session of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
14 May 2017, Beijing
All courtesies observed.
It is an immense pleasure to be here in Beijing at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The vast achievements of China’s economic revitalization in the past 30 years are by now well documented, but the lifting of many hundreds of millions people from poverty in that short period bears repeating again and again.
This achievement was a major factor in ensuring that the international community largely achieved the UN Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and it demonstrates to us all that rapid transformational change is possible.
I have no doubt the Belt and Road Initiative will bring enormous benefits to all involved in it. I also believe this initiative will serve as a major driver of the global transformation demanded by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Taken together with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2030 Agenda constitutes a universal roadmap for humanity’s survival on this planet.
The 2030 Agenda is our guide to ending global poverty, achieving gender equality and overcoming environmental degradation. It provides the impetus for delivering shared prosperity and access to basic services for all. It is the bedrock on which we will build peaceful, inclusive and just societies.
Implementation of this roadmap will require the development of global partnerships, such as those envisaged in the Belt and Road Initiative. Support from both public and private sector investment will be required for sustainable infrastructure, and here we take heart from the outcomes of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou on the greening of the global financial system.
The exponential innovation underway in communications and technology will be central to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, assisting many developing countries to leapfrog towards prosperity for their people.
But all of these advances in favour of humanity’s sustainable future will not be possible if we do not stay true to the course set for us by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. Fidelity to these universal agreements is the central imperative of our times.
In this regard, President Xi’s speech in Geneva last January lit a beacon of hope for us all. Building a sharing global community, a win-win development and trading environment, in a world of flourishing multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core; this is a vision for an equitable future to which all can subscribe.
The Belt and Road initiative will boost many of the Sustainable Development Goals through economic growth, employment, poverty reduction, and expansion of trade and investment among the countries along the Belt and Road.
And we have every hope it will create the conditions for sustaining peace and preventing violent extremism. This is vital to our shared future, for the United Nations has reached a clear conclusion that there can be no sustainable peace without sustainable development, and no sustainable development without sustainable peace.
As a Fijian, and in the presence of the Prime Minister of Fiji, Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama, I bring your attention to the urgent need for progress in the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. I call on all to support the untiring efforts of the Prime Minister as he prepares to assume his duties as President of COP23 in Bonn this November.
From 5 to 9 June in New York, together with the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Prime Minister Bainimarama will co-preside over The Ocean Conference. In support of the noble aims of SDG14, the conference sets out to reverse the cycle of decline in which the Ocean is currently caught.
SDG14 is humanity’s only universal commitment to righting the woes we have brought upon the Ocean. For those who have yet to make a voluntary commitment on The Ocean Conference website, now is the time: the time to stand and be counted among those who are committed to conserving and sustainably managing the Ocean’s resources.
An old Chinese saying tells us that the flames rise high when everybody adds wood.
Seen in this light, the Belt and Road Initiative is a massive driving force towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Initiative’s inclusive, integrated and transformational vision is in complete synergy with the 2030 Agenda, and its “can-do” spirit is an inspiration for us all.
I thank our hosts once again and wish you all a successful Forum.