China Poised for Leadership in Main Global Marketplaces Due to Renewable Energy Investments, Manufacturing Strength, Secretary-General Tells Senior Leaders

24 July 2009

China Poised for Leadership in Main Global Marketplaces Due to Renewable Energy Investments, Manufacturing Strength, Secretary-General Tells Senior Leaders

24 July 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at an event with alumni of the Advanced Leadership Programme, in Beijing, today, 24 July:

It is a great pleasure to be back in China.  And it is an honour to be among such a distinguished group this evening.

My visit coincides with important national milestones.  In October, you will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.  It has been 30 years since the beginning of China’s reform and opening up.  This year also marks three decades of the development partnership between the United Nations and China.  These observances offer an opportunity to reflect on our progress and on the challenges ahead.  But first, I want to acknowledge the bond that unites each of you in this room.

The United Nations-China Advanced Leadership Programme now boasts 420 alumni.  We at the United Nations are pleased to have been able to support this effort.  The Programme focuses on areas that you, as senior Chinese leaders, have said are your priorities and where you would most benefit from exposure to global best practices.  These include the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, the rule of law and transparent governance.

The world has a lot to learn from modern China.  The way your country raises and nurtures its next generations of national leaders deserves close attention by many other countries.  At the same time, I commend your openness to learning from the rest of the world, and your appreciation for the importance of United Nations standards, conventions, principles and values.  I wish you every success as you work for the public good, and put the insights you have gained into practice in your ministries or at the provincial level.  I also urge you to share your experiences with others, in China and beyond.

Like you, we at the United Nations strive to make our work more coherent and effective.  That means we must become even more responsive to national needs and to the development visions set out by developing countries themselves.  It means we must focus on providing our wide-ranging knowledge, expertise and advice.  The old model of delivering a range of small projects while having no real impact on national policy will, I hope, become a thing of the past.

That is how I hope we can work together moving forward.  More important is what the principal areas for our cooperation should be.  We can start by looking at what has worked well over the past 30 years.   China’s achievements in lifting people out of poverty are unprecedented.  You have met several Millennium Development Goals, and are on track to reach several more.

Of course, as you yourselves acknowledge, many challenges still remain.  To achieve your vision of a “Xiaokang” society, many disparities need to be bridged -- between rich and poor, old and young, west and east, cities and the countryside, and for ethnic minorities and migrant workers, people living with HIV and others who may face discrimination.  China has also launched a national human rights action plan.  The United Nations will continue to support you in these endeavours.

Another immediate challenge is to sustain growth in the face of the global economic and financial crisis. Devastating as it has been, the crisis has actually given rise to a number of opportunities, in China and elsewhere.  Perhaps the most powerful such opportunity is the chance to create a lower-emission pathway and place our economies on a more sustainable footing.

Green investment can create jobs and help to promote economic recovery.  It is also essential for addressing the greatest challenge of our generation: climate change.  This morning, I took part in the launch of an ambitious new collaboration between the United Nations and China to roll out energy saving light bulbs across the country.  If successful, it will reduce China’s energy use by 8 per cent -- an outcome of truly global significance.  Tomorrow, in Shaanxi Province, I will visit an enterprise that is pioneering renewable energy technology.

The transition to a lower-emission, lower-carbon economy is an imperative.  There are two ways we can go about it.  One is through greater energy efficiency.  Sustainable cities are an example of how this can be put into practice.

China has a real advantage in this regard.  Over the next 20 years, 350 million Chinese are expected to move from the countryside to cities.  You can build sustainable cities from scratch, while much of the rest of the world will have to retro-fit existing cities -- at much greater cost.

The other path to a lower-emission economy is through greater use of renewable energy.  China is already establishing itself in this area.  Your renewable energy investments are second only to Germany’s.  With your manufacturing strength, you are well positioned to be a leader in what is shaping up as one of the main global marketplaces of the future.

We are living through an era like no other -- a time of multiple crises.  The financial crisis is having a profound and widespread impact.  Before that we had the energy crisis and the food crisis.  Each one of these is a crisis that we have not seen for many years, even generations.  But this time, they are hitting the world all at once.  At the same time, we have been facing a development and poverty crisis.  There are at least 2 billion people who are suffering from abject poverty.

These trials cry out for a renewed multilateralism.  The international community must pool resources and we must pool our wisdom.  We need united action.  We need the United Nations.  And we need countries such as China, and people such as you, to engage with all their creativity and will.

Again, I extend my congratulations on being part of this Advanced Leadership Programme.  I look forward to working with you to build a better world for all.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.