With global crises, initiative can deliver for developing nations, ambassador says
As the world contends with multiple crises, the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, or GDI, presents a timely means for developing countries to embrace the benefits of inclusive partnerships, said Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations.
The GDI, proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in September last year, "came at a very timely moment", the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, Munir Akram, told China Daily.
"We are suffering from multiple shocks to the global economy and especially to developing countries: the COVID pandemic, the inflation spiral of commodities and other prices, then conflicts and tensions in the world and restrictions on trade and knowledge, which have all affected the global economy, especially developing countries," he said.
Akram, who is also the chairperson of the Group of 77 and China, added: "Almost 50 developing countries are in a crisis of one sort or the other, including Pakistan."
The G77, which got its name from 77 founding members of the group, now comprises 134 developing countries at the UN.
"This initiative brings together the countries of the world, especially in the developing countries, to come and partner with China to address these issues," he said.
The world has moved further off track in meeting the globally agreed-upon deadline set by the 2030 Agenda to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his remarks to the Economic and Social Council in March, "we need to rescue the SDGs and get them back on track".
"The Global Development Initiative concept came at a time when the progress toward the SDGs had slowed down," said Akram. "So it is hoped that it would provide an impetus to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs by focusing on concrete actions to be taken in each of the identified areas."
In line with the SDGs, the GDI strives for eight priority areas: poverty alleviation, food security, the COVID-19 response and vaccines, financing for development, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity, according to a concept note from the Group of Friends of GDI, which hosts working sessions at the UN.
China has invited a number of countries to join the Group of Friends of GDI. Most developing countries have come on board, said Akram. The group intends to translate the eight objectives into concrete actions, he said.
The Group of Friends of GDI was launched in January at the UN headquarters in New York. Representatives from over 100 countries and 20 international organizations joined at that time.
"This is an important occasion and an important opportunity for developing countries because China has a model of development which has been successful, eradicating poverty within 25 years," Akram said. "For a model which has created a first-class economy in the world in such a short time, it's a miracle. And this is something that can serve as a model for other countries."
China has the closest trade relationship with most developing countries, and therefore it is a natural partner for them, he said.
China has the capacity to help developing countries in three critical ways: the model of development, the tangible infrastructure development through the Belt and Road Initiative, and financial support, the diplomat said.
China can also help developing countries to create the capacity to grow through technology transfers, knowledge sharing, and other means by which they can have the capability to develop themselves, he added.
"In all these respects, the Global Development Initiative is an important opportunity, an important avenue for developing countries like Pakistan," said Akram.
"We are hopeful that given China's own experience in development, in achieving growth, rapid growth in eliminating poverty, that the model could serve as a basis to which the developing countries can cooperate with China, as well as among themselves in order to advance these goals that we abide by under the GDI and the Group of Friends," the envoy said.
"Our experience of cooperation with China has been open cooperation and cooperation built on mutual trust and mutual transparency, mutual agreement as such. There is no element of coalition … we have developed all the projects under the CPEC together. We have implemented those projects and we hope that we will continue and accelerate those implementations," said Akram, referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the China-proposed BRI.
"We have been happy with our level of cooperation with China, and that is totally trust between the two countries. And this is the only basis on which cooperation can be done between states."