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Chinese Foreign Minister delivers speech at Opening of Symposium On International Developments and China's Diplomacy in 2017

NNA – Following is the speech delivered by the Chinese Foreign Minister at the Opening of the Symposium On International Developments and China’s Diplomacy in 2017:

“Experts and friends,

I’m very pleased to meet you again at the year end to review the international developments and China’s diplomacy in the past year and hear your insights on our diplomatic work going forward.

The outgoing year 2017 is of special, high significance to both China and the world.

The world is at a crucial stage of evolving international landscape and shifting balance of power, facing growing destabilizing and uncertain factors and new problems and challenges on multiple fronts. The human society has once again come to a crossroads of history. Should one opt for openness or isolation, cooperation or confrontation, win-win or zero-sum game? These are questions we are all thinking hard about. The choice made by major countries will significantly impact the future of our world and the entire mankind.

As for China, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China has made historic achievements and registered historic changes in wide-ranging areas. The 19th CPC National Congress successfully held this year established the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, opened up new horizons for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and set out the direction and objectives of China’s diplomacy in the new era. This has given Chinese answers to the serious questions confronting the world. That is to say, China believes it is essential to advance peace, development and win-win cooperation, foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind. It is fair to say that we have taken stock of our achievements and broken new ground in China’s diplomacy in the year of 2017.

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee this year, we have earnestly implemented the new thinking, new ideas and new measures put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping in the past five years by taking active, innovative and pioneering steps, and made many breakthroughs and important headway in our diplomatic work. These achievements can be summed up in the following five aspects:

First, we have drawn up the blueprint for jointly undertaking the Belt and Road Initiative. In the past four years since President Xi Jinping put it forward, this major initiative has been translated from an envisioned concept into real action and progress on the ground. The initiative has delivered real benefits through win-win cooperation and attracted extensive attention and participation. More and more countries are looking to China with high expectation for cooperation opportunities under the Belt and Road framework.

Last May, President Xi Jinping successfully chaired the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing. The forum generated huge enthusiasm around the world and the keenness to participate was overwhelming. The heads of state/government from 29 foreign countries, senior representatives from over 130 countries and heads of over 70 international organizations attended the event. It became the most extensively attended and most highly represented multilateral diplomatic event that China had initiated and hosted. And it produced a broad consensus among the nations from across the world on jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the BRF, President Xi Jinping set out the objective of building the Belt and Road into a road for peace, prosperity, opening-up, innovation and exchanges among civilizations. Plans were laid out for future cooperation under the Belt and Road framework, presenting the prospects for common development and prosperity. Underpinned by real actions and concrete projects, the BRF produced over 270 specific results under 76 broad categories across five key areas. A series of major projects were launched on the ground during the forum. A win-win cooperation network is coming into being, centering around the Eurasian continent and reaching out to continents and oceans across the world. And an international cooperation platform has been put into place for countries to synergize their development strategies and complement each other with comparative strengths for enhanced connectivity and inclusive and open development.

The Belt and Road has become the most popular international public goods in today’s world. Its success lies in the fact that by focusing on the dual deficits in development and governance and the dual challenges of anemic global growth and lack of drive in global cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative has responded to the shared desire for accelerated development, and sought to pool the economic factors and developmental resources from wider areas following an approach of pursuing shared benefits through consultation and collaboration. This opens a new pathway for resolving development conundrums, improving economic governance, achieving sustainable development and rebalancing globalization.

Up till now, we have signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 80 countries and organizations, conducted institutionalized cooperation on industrial capacity with over 30 countries, and built 75 overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in 24 countries under the Belt and Road framework. Chinese businesses have invested over US$50 billion and created near-200,000 local jobs in the countries along the Belt and Road. Building on the first BRF, the Belt and Road Initiative is developing across the board and has shown strong vigor and vitality. It carries far-reaching positive implications for global development, and will also lend strong and sustained impetus to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Second, we have been a strong advocate of economic globalization. In a time of sluggish economic growth and recovery as well as global turbulence and unending conflicts, the judgment and leadership of global statesmen and the ability to take swift action are more sought after than gold. President Xi’s visit to Davos early this year was such a trip that has boosted global confidence and charted the way forward for economic globalization.

In his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum, President Xi pointed out that the road of human progress has never been a smooth one, but no difficulty, however daunting, can stop mankind from advancing. In the face of difficulty, instead of making complaints or blaming others, we should come together and rise to the challenge. He emphasized that many of the world’s problems are not caused by economic globalization, and trying to reverse the trend of globalization will be futile, just as it is impossible to channel the water in the global economic ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks. He stressed the importance of steadfastly building an open global economy, reminding us that those who pursue protectionism will lock themselves in a dark room deprived of light and air. President Xi also put forward China’s proposal for boosting global growth and making globalization more balanced. He called for joint efforts to develop a model of innovation-driven growth, open and win-win cooperation, fair and equitable governance, and balanced and inclusive development.

President Xi’s visit to the United Nations Office at Geneva is the first such visit by China’s top leader in the 21st century, and a major diplomatic initiative after his participation in the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. It sent a clear message that China fully supports the United Nations and multilateralism. At the Palace of Nations, President Xi gave a full account of his major international initiative to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind, provided China’s perspectives on addressing the many global challenges facing human society, and built international consensus on China’s proposal.

From Davos to Geneva, from Hamburg to Da Nang, President Xi delivered a series of important speeches, laying out China’s clear position on a range of issues, suggesting the way forward for the world economy and making contribution to global governance. Thus, China is emerging as the most positive factor in the evolution of the international system and the most dynamic force for improving global governance. The Chinese dream is increasingly linked with the dream of the world.

Third, we have been an anchor for stable relations among major countries. The China-US relationship affects not just the wellbeing of the two countries but also that of the world. Since China and the United States reopened doors to exchanges 45 years ago, this relationship has come a long way. We have had both rosy and thorny episodes; we have seen not only storms but also rainbows. The two countries have evolved from mutual estrangement to key partners for each other, because the two sides act in the fundamental interests of the two peoples, bear in mind the big picture of bilateral relations and share the desire to move in the right direction.

The Presidents of the two countries have always played a key role in developing the relationship. The three meetings and many letters and phone calls between President Xi and President Trump this year have provided a strategic anchor to what is the most complicated and consequential relationship in the world. Soon after President Trump had taken office, he and President Xi met in Mar-a-Lago, agreeing on the establishment of four high-level dialogue mechanisms covering various fields in China-US relations, outlining cooperation plans in key areas, and thus enabling the smooth transition and good start of China-US relations under a new administration. Shortly after the 19th CPC National Congress, President Trump paid a state visit to China, during which both sides agreed to expand cooperation across the board on the basis of mutual benefit and manage differences on the basis of mutual respect. The visit delivered tangible outcomes and important understandings for deepening cooperation in various fields, and the US side expressed their desire for a stronger relationship with China.

The sound interactions between the world’s two largest economies and their commitment to win-win cooperation is sending a strong signal to the world that more positive things are to be expected for all parties. A good China-US relationship will benefit both countries and peoples and be welcomed by the international community. Of course, the China-US relationship has never been smooth sailing and progress can only be made by overcoming various difficulties and interferences. The social system, history and culture of the two countries are different. China has no intention to change or displace the United States; the US cannot expect to dictate to China or impede its development. The ever more extensive cooperation and close exchanges at different levels have tied the two countries’ interests closely together. There is far more that they share than they disagree. Cooperation leads to win-win outcomes while confrontation can only result in a lose-lose situation. This is a plain truth that anyone with a strategic vision and sober mind will recognize. It is a trend that will not bend to the will of any individuals. Recognizing this, China and the US need to find ways to better get along with each other. China is willing, on the basis of mutual respect, to live peacefully with the American superpower. The US needs to understand and accept a China that is following its own path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, one suited to its own conditions. When engaging with each other, both countries must observe the rules, by which I mean the commonly recognized international law and basic norms governing international relations, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the three communiqués between China and the United States. For both countries, the old-fashioned mentality of zero-sum game and confrontation works no longer. Putting aside differences, seeking common ground and pursuing win-win cooperation are the only right choice for a bright future.

China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbors. Having stood the test of a changing international landscape, this relationship has proven to be both historic and forward-looking, and has grown increasingly resilient and stable. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, thanks to efforts of both sides, has continued to move forward at a high standard. Frequent interactions between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, who exchanged visits and met five times throughout the year, have enabled consistent, close coordination on major issues concerning global strategic stability, forged greater synergy of development strategies that are crucial to the revitalization of Eurasia, and steered China-Russia strategic coordination toward higher levels and into more areas and greater depths. China-Russia relationship has become a major cornerstone for world peace and stability, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.

China and Europe have continued to make fresh headway in the development of the partnership for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilization. President Xi Jinping paid successful visits to Germany, Switzerland and Finland and met with the new French President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Hamburg to maintain and strengthen strategic communication. Premier Li Keqiang attended the annual China-EU Summit and worked with leaders of the 16 Central and Eastern European countries to advance the building of the cross-regional cooperation platform. Notwithstanding the various uncertainties in Europe, China’s Europe policy remains consistent and rock-firm. We will continue to approach and advance relations with Europe from a global perspective and in the context of the world’s major trends. We firmly support the European integration process and welcome EU’s unity and development. We are committed to managing and handling differences on the basis of mutual respect, and will work to expand converging interests and explore new growth areas in regional cooperation to enrich and expand the strategic substance of China-Europe relations.

Fourth, we have worked to maintain stability in our neighborhood and the sound momentum of regional cooperation. As we Chinese people often say, a close neighbor is better than a distant relative. China has therefore every reason to maintain friendship and amity with its neighbors. For his first overseas visit after the 19th CPC National Congress, General Secretary and President Xi Jinping chose Viet Nam and Laos, two socialist neighbors sharing mountains and rivers with China, as his destinations. The visit renewed our traditional friendship, deepened practical cooperation, and sent a clear message to the international community, demonstrating China’s commitment to building a community with a shared future in its neighborhood. President Xi Jinping met with President Rodrigo Duterte twice this year and Premier Li Keqiang paid a successful visit to the Philippines. China-Philippines relations hold out a prospect of steady development. While making new friends, we have not forgotten the old ones. We have deepened mutual trust and enhanced mutual support with traditional friends such as Cambodia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

For some time, China-ROK relations met with headwinds due to the THAAD issue. Since President Moon Jae-in took office, he has opted for friendship and cooperation with China and the ROK side has made important public statement that the ROK will not consider additional THAAD deployment, not participate in the US missile defense network and not develop a trilateral military alliance with the US and Japan. Our two sides have reached agreement on handling the THAAD issue for the current stage. In a few days, President Moon Jae-in will pay his first state visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping. China is ready to work with the ROK to take the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations as an opportunity, cherish the cooperation outcomes already achieved, increase mutual understanding and mutual trust, effectively manage differences, and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides. China and the ROK will work for the sound development of the bilateral relations and stay committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations. There are more than enough experience and lessons over the past 45 years to help people come to realize the crux of the problem in China-Japan relationship and the great importance of its sound development. We value the recent steps Japan has taken to improve ties with China and welcome Japan’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. We hope Japan will not hesitate, backpedal or relapse, and we hope Japan will do more to increase understanding, dispel mistrust and facilitate sound interactions. We will see light at the end of the tunnel as long as we keep moving forward. We are ready to work with Japan to bring the bilateral relations back to normal at an early date and make friendship prevail again in our engagement.

Both being big developing countries, China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than concrete differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial frictions. China always values the good-neighborliness and friendship between the two countries as we are each other’s big neighbors and ancient civilizations. In the meantime, China is also firm in upholding its sovereign rights and interests and territorial integrity. We handled the Indian border troops’ trespass into China’s Dong Lang area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint. Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel. This demonstrates not only the value and emphasis we put on relations with India but also our sincerity and sense of responsibility in maintaining regional peace and stability. We believe that as long as we continue to engage in in-depth strategic communication and promptly dispel strategic misgivings, the strategic value of China-India cooperation will speak for itself, and there will be a prospect of “the Dragon and the Elephant Dancing Together” and “1+1=11” effect as expected by our leaders.

China-Mongolia relations suffered some setbacks previously. After the new government led by the People’s Party was formed, it attached greater importance to relations with China. Last week, during the new Mongolian Foreign Minister’s first visit to China, he stressed that Mongolia sees China as a strategic priority in its foreign policy and reiterated Mongolia’s firm commitment to the one China policy and respect for China’s core interests on Tibet- and Xinjiang-related issues and on the Taiwan question. China highly appreciates that. The Mongolian side has realized the importance of maintaining policy consistency and hopes to make Mongolia-China relationship an exemplary one between neighbors. We welcome that and would like to make joint efforts with Mongolia toward that end.

China always champions regional cooperation in its neighborhood and safeguards peace and development in the region. At the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, President Xi Jinping, responding to the new developments and challenges in Asia-Pacific economic cooperation, reaffirmed the commitment to fostering an open economy, and called for more steps toward the building of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) and new progress in the economic integration of the Asia Pacific. In Astana, at the first summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) after its expansion, President Xi stressed that the SCO members should stay true to their original aspiration, carry forward the Shanghai Spirit, keep abreast with the times, and open new ground in promoting regional cooperation in order to ensure that the SCO continues to move forward in the right direction. At the East Asia leaders’ meetings in Manila, Premier Li Keqiang underscored the need to take China-ASEAN relations to a higher level with better quality and greater maturity, and called for the building of the East Asia Economic Community at a faster pace. We have actively advanced the mechanism of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), a sub-regional cooperation initiative first put forward by China. We have promoted the theme of “shared river, shared future”, fostered the culture of “equality, sincerity, mutual assistance and kinship”, and advanced cooperation to the benefit of the people with a can-do spirit. Our cooperation, with its focus on efficiency and practical results, has contributed to the wellbeing of people in this region. Since the launch of this mechanism over a year ago, notable early harvest has been achieved, and the LMC Special Fund has gone into full operation. With progress made every day and results delivered every month, LMC cooperation has proven to be a mechanism with great efficiency.

China’s position on the South China Sea has been upheld by successive Chinese governments, which reflects both the continuity of China’s policy and our firm resolve to uphold sovereignty. All the littoral states of the South China Sea are China’s neighbors. It has always been our hope to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship, and cooperation. Since the beginning of this year, we have worked actively to ease the situation in the South China Sea. We have restored and reinforced the consensus between China and ASEAN countries to peacefully resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation by the countries concerned, and facilitated the joint efforts of regional countries to develop the rules of the South China Sea. With agreement reached on the framework of a code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea ahead of schedule, we have officially declared the commencement of consultations on the COC text.

The mutual trust is all too precious between China and ASEAN countries; and stability has not come easily in the South China Sea. Some countries outside this region seem to feel uncomfortable with the calm waters in the South China Sea and are still looking for opportunities to stir up trouble. However, just as the high mountains cannot stop the river from flowing to the ocean, the positive trend in the South China Sea cannot be reversed. China and ASEAN countries have both the ability and wisdom to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

As a key member of the international community, China has actively worked for the settlement of hotspot issues in its neighborhood. On the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, we have kept firmly in mind the goal of upholding the international non-proliferation regime, safeguarding peace and stability of the Peninsula, and achieving the denuclearization of the Peninsula, and stayed committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and negotiation. To this end, we have fully and strictly implemented the DPRK-related resolutions of the UN Security Council. While taking concrete actions to curb the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development, we have put forward the “suspension for suspension” proposal with the aim of creating conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiation. Taking an objective and impartial stand and a responsible attitude, China has fulfilled its due international obligations and played its unique role in implementing the resolutions, promoting peace and talks, upholding stability and preventing chaos on the Peninsula. Through shuttle diplomacy, we have encouraged Afghanistan and Pakistan to agree on a bilateral crisis management mechanism, and made our contribution to Afghanistan’s domestic political reconciliation and reconstruction and the improvement of Afghanistan-Pakistan relations. We have conducted mediation between Myanmar and Bangladesh and put forward a three-step proposal to resolve the issue in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. The proposal has been well-received by both countries, contributing to a preliminary consensus and the signing of the relevant agreement between the two sides.

Fifth, we have ushered in the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS cooperation. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the five BRICS countries, the BRICS mechanism has continued to grow despite various pessimistic rhetoric, and the BRICS Xiamen Summit chaired by President Xi has been a full success. At the summit, BRICS countries decided to develop a closer, broader and more comprehensive strategic partnership, and upgrade BRICS cooperation with three pillars of economic, trade and financial cooperation, political and security cooperation, and people-to-people exchange. The summit is a milestone in BRICS cooperation, as it has opened a brighter prospect for the cooperation, and boosted international confidence in the future of emerging markets.

With the first ever Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries, the Xiamen Summit introduced a new approach to cooperation, namely BRICS+. The dialogue, which invited the leaders of five major emerging market and developing countries in the world such as Egypt, focused on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, deepened practical cooperation between BRICS and African, Latin American, Middle East and Eurasian countries, and built a new platform for South-South cooperation with a global impact.

In addition to the major outcomes in these five areas, we have firmly safeguarded national sovereignty and security, actively served China’s opening-up and domestic development, accelerated the capacity building to protect overseas interests, explored new ways of conducting public diplomacy, and launched the reform of the mechanisms and systems for our external work. These efforts have enriched the contents and expanded the outreach of China’s diplomacy.

China has made all-round progress and ground-breaking achievements on the diplomatic front since the 18th CPC National Congress. A most important reason behind this is the leadership and personal commitment of General Secretary Xi Jinping. Over the past five years, recognizing and riding the trend of the world and the times, General Secretary Xi has put forth a series of new ideas, measures and strategies that have provided guidance for the advance of China’s diplomacy. With tireless efforts and outstanding leadership, General Secretary Xi has engaged in intensive interactions with other world leaders to safeguard China’s national interests, enhance China’s international standing, and establish the profile of China as a major country in the world.

Experts and friends,

The 19th CPC National Congress which concluded with great success has charted the course for China’s external relations. General Secretary Xi Jinping made it clear in his report to the Congress that China will endeavor to foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind, which identified the overarching goals of China’s foreign policy in the years ahead.

These twin objectives are inspired by the fine traditions of the 5000-year Chinese culture emphasizing the pursuit of the common good, by the core values championed by China’s peaceful foreign policy for over six decades, and by the CPC’s global vision of delivering benefits to the people of China as well as those of all other countries.

To foster a new form of international relations, we need to find a new approach to developing state-to-state relations with the following core principles. First, mutual respect. Countries of different size, strength or wealth, and with diverse systems, religions and civilizations, are all equals. Second, fairness and justice. The law of the jungle which puts the weak at the mercy of the strong must be rejected, and the legitimate rights and interests of all countries, in particular the developing countries, should be upheld. And third, win-win cooperation. The outdated mindset of zero-sum game or winner taking all should be replaced with a new approach of working for common development and shared benefits.

To build a community with a shared future for mankind, we need to come up with solutions to various global challenges. All countries and peoples live on the same planet, and thus have their future closely intertwined like passengers on the same boat. We need to make this world a big, harmonious family where all peoples’ needs for a better life can be met. To be more specific, we will build a five-in-one world, namely a world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, and a world that is open, inclusive and enjoys a well-preserved ecology. This vision of our world is both inspired by the five-sphere integrated plan for our domestic development, and it echoes well with the trend of human progress and the shared aspirations of all countries.

The year 2018 will go down as the year for the beginning of the implementation of the decisions taken at the 19th CPC National Congress. As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, we also need to gain a new outlook, make new accomplishments and take new responsibilities in the conduct of China’s foreign policy.

We will continue to break new ground in pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in line with the strategic plans of the 19th CPC National Congress. The Congress’ report stressed at the very beginning of the foreign affairs section that “The Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress. To make new and greater contributions for mankind is our Party’s abiding mission.” China, as the world’s largest developing country, will continue to take its development the top priority in governance. Modernization for all the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people will be an extraordinary endeavor in history, and will be the biggest contribution of the Chinese nation to human progress. Above all, China needs to create a more favorable external environment and stronger external impetus for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and for achieving the two centenary goals. At the same time, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a developing China also needs to consider and contribute to global wellbeing, shoulder its due international responsibilities for world peace, and play its role as a major country in promoting common development. For China’s diplomacy in the new era, we will take a longer and broader perspective, and be even more open-minded and resourceful in our diplomacy. We will give more consideration to the overall interests of the world and humanity, and work in a proactive manner.

Living in a world of major changes, transformations and adjustments, we will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, and strengthen friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We will firmly uphold the existing international system with the UN at its core, and protect and expand the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. We will follow the principle of achieving shared benefits through consultation and collaboration in engaging in global governance, and strive for a more equitable and fairer international political and economic order. We will continue to treat all countries as equals, address international disputes through peaceful means, and work for greater democracy and rule of law in international relations. We will continue to act as a responsible major country to contribute to world peace, promote global development, and uphold the international order.

First, we will expand China’s network of global partnerships and promote a new form of international relations. In keeping with the historical trend, China has called for embracing a new approach to state-to-state relations that features dialogue rather than confrontation and partnership instead of alliance. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has explicitly pointed out, those who share the same ideal and follow the same path can be partners; those who seek common ground while shelving differences can also be partners. Guided by this inclusive and open-minded vision, China has established partnerships with over 100 countries. These countries are different from each other and our partnerships vary in formulation and format. Yet, the essence of partnerships is the same: treating each other as equals and pursuing win-win cooperation, while transcending differences in social system and development stage. This important practice by China, offering a new option for countries exploring approaches to state-to-state relations, is widely recognized and welcomed. Going forward, we will continue to work with other countries to expand converging interests and enhance the quality of partnerships, to create enabling conditions for and lending new impetus to our endeavor in building a new form of international relations.

In this endeavor, major countries have a key role to play. We will continue to enhance coordination and cooperation with Russia, the United States, Europe and other major countries and country groups. Hence, we will be able to build a framework for major-country relations of overall stability and balanced development that contributes to global peace, tranquility and harmonious development.

Second, we will start from our neighborhood and other developing countries in building a community with a shared future for mankind. China and its neighbors, connected by mountains and rivers, share the same aspiration for peace and development. This has created natural conditions for our joint endeavors. President Xi’s initiative to build a community with a shared future is meant to be oriented to China’s neighbors and other developing countries as a priority. We will make steady progress toward this goal by starting from our neighborhood and working with other developing countries.

China will deepen relations with its neighbors in line with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and the policy of forging friendship and partnership in its neighborhood. We will deepen win-win cooperation with our neighbors and help friendly countries boost their capacity for self-development through major events next year, such as the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and the formulation of a China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030. We will ensure the success of the two international conferences to be hosted by China and participated mainly by our neighbors next year, namely the Boao Forum for Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Qingdao summit, with a view to enhancing the regional consensus on mutual support and lending new impetus to regional cooperation. We remain committed to upholding stability in the South China Sea and promoting maritime cooperation with regional countries through the two wheels of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and holding consultations on a code of conduct (COC). We will also work with regional countries to push for an early conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in an effort to open a new chapter in Asia-Pacific cooperation.

China will, in keeping with the principle of upholding justice while pursuing shared interests and the principle of sincerity, real results, affinity, and good faith, strengthen solidarity and cooperation with other developing countries. We will continue to make full use of the existing institutional platforms for cooperation with African countries, Latin American and Caribbean states, and Arab states respectively. Another significant event on China’s diplomatic agenda for 2018 will be hosting the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. At the forum, we will discuss plans for future development with our African brothers and sisters, and roll out new cooperation measures and explore new growth areas, to lift our cooperation to a new level. In particular, in meeting the aspiration of African countries, we will work to further synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the Agenda 2063, making the Belt and Road cooperation a new, strong driver for China-Africa all-dimensional cooperation. We will also hold the ministerial meetings under the China-CELAC Forum and the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, which will further enrich China-CELAC and China-Arab cooperation.

Third, we will comprehensively advance the Belt and Road Initiative to benefit all other participating countries through win-win cooperation. President Xi Jinping outlined the blueprint for the Belt and Road Initiative while addressing the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We are ready to make solid efforts with all the other parties to follow through on the 270 outcomes of the first BRF, develop the follow-up mechanisms, and ensure the success of ministerial meetings in key areas in preparation for the second forum to be held in 2019. We will work for real results in facilitating policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity and reach consensus with more countries for Belt and Road cooperation. We will focus on flagship projects along the key routes and at key junctions to reap early harvest to the benefit of our people. Through our work at the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Laos Economic Corridor, and China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, at the Piraeus port and Kyaukpyu port, at the China-Laos railway and China-Thailand railway in Asia and other railway projects in Africa, Europe and Latin America, we will strengthen new driving forces for and further upgrade Belt and Road cooperation. By earnestly implementing the principle of shared benefits through consultation and collaboration, we will ensure that this international public good plays its role of boosting development of countries and regions along the routes.

In addition, President Xi Jinping has announced at the BRF that the first China International Import Expo will be held in Shanghai next year. As the first expo devoted to expanding imports anywhere in the world, it testifies to China’s readiness to open its market and share its development opportunities with the rest of the world.

Fourth, we will actively explore a way of resolving hotspot issues with Chinese characteristics and play a bigger and more constructive role in upholding world stability. China is ready to take part in the peaceful settlement of hotspot issues, and actively explore a Chinese approach of constructive engagement. We will continue to advocate and practice the following three principles in the handling of hotspot issues, i.e. non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs or imposition of one’s own will on others; taking an objective and impartial approach and refraining from seeking one’s selfish interests; and striving for political solutions while rejecting the use of force. These principles have stood the test of time, yielded positive outcomes and received endorsement from more and more countries.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has been caught up in a vicious cycle of provocation and confrontation, has remained grave. However, it is important to highlight that the hope of peace remains alive, and the possibility of negotiation still exists. War is by no means acceptable. China believes that parties need to give serious consideration to China’s “suspension for suspension” proposal, take the first step toward de-escalation to at least take the situation out of the “black hole” of confrontation, and endeavor to create the right conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of dialogue and negotiation.

China has put in more efforts and borne greater cost than any other party in addressing the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. China believes that all the parties’ efforts must be guided by the letter and spirit of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, which represent the common position of the international community and constitute an international responsibility that all UN members must fulfill. China, for one, has been implementing the resolutions in all earnest. China will not support or accept the demands of any party that are inconsistent with the resolutions or measures that go beyond the resolutions, still less unilateral actions, for they will only undermine the unity of the Security Council and the legitimate interests of other countries.

In recent days, the Middle East is again embroiled in turbulence. China has always firmly supported the Palestinian people’s efforts to restore their lawful rights. We support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that enjoys full sovereignty, with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on the 1967 border. The status of Jerusalem must be determined through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of UN resolutions, and the two-state solution remains a viable, fundamental solution to the Palestinian issue. We appeal to all parties to be level-headed and exercise restraint, and avoid creating new turbulence in a region already fraught with challenges. To continue its constructive role, China will implement President Xi’s four-point proposal for resolving the Palestinian issue, and work to convene a meeting in Beijing this year that brings together Palestinian and Israeli advocates of peace. The Syrian issue is likely to enter a new phase of political settlement. China supports dialogue and negotiations aimed at reaching a future political arrangement. We support joint counter-terrorism actions for the sake of regional stability and efforts to build lasting peace and security through reconstruction.

China will direct more attention and resources to the issue of Afghanistan. Before the end of the year, I will be joined by my Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in Beijing to discuss peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan, improvement of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cooperation among our three countries. The three-way foreign ministers’ meeting, the first of its kind, aims to build more consensus and produce tangible outcomes. In the meantime, China will continue its mediation for a proper, phased settlement of the situation in Rakhine state, Myanmar.

Fifth and finally, we will step up efforts to serve China’s domestic development and overseas interests in line with our national conditions and the needs of our people. In the course of this year, the Foreign Ministry has hosted successful events to promote five Chinese provinces, which helped Yunnan, Anhui, Jilin, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Jiangxi to increase their international profile. We also organized lecture tours to universities and Party schools, which enhanced the public’s understanding of the international landscape and China’s foreign policy.

In 2018, we will explore new ideas and approaches to better serve China’s development. To provide a better stage for Chinese provinces and municipalities to engage the world, the Foreign Ministry will present more of them under the theme of “China in a New Era”, and facilitate various initiatives of strategic importance for national development, most notably the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the planning and construction of the Xiongan New Area and the organization of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. We will also tap the resources at the disposal of the Foreign Ministry and our overseas missions to provide tailor-made information services for the reform and development at home.

The protection of Chinese nationals overseas is always a priority for us. Guided by a people-centered philosophy, we will continue to build capacity and institutions, deepen the reform of consular services, and improve the WeChat version of the consular hotline 12308 and other information platforms for our nationals to make consular services more accessible and popular. Recognizing China’s growing overseas interests and the new patterns of Chinese nationals and businesses going abroad, we will do more to facilitate their travel and mobility. We will also improve the mechanism and institution of consular protection, explore a system for safeguarding the safety and security of overseas Chinese nationals and businesses, and provide a reliable safety net for them.

Experts and friends,

Let me end by quoting from a poem, “With the rising tide and favorable wind, it is time to sail the ship and ride the waves.” The world is changing like never before, and China is on the final leg of its march toward national rejuvenation. In a great era that is unfolding before our eyes, let us follow the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, keep our mission firmly in mind, live up to the trust placed on us, and scale new heights in our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. In this process, I welcome active participation and suggestions from all of you.

Thank you!” — Press release


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Future of Work and Skills for the 4th Industrial Revolution: Case of India

Excellency Julide Sarieroglu, Minister of Labor and Social Security of Turkey,
Distinguished Panelists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be participating to this session on the future of work and skills for the 4th Industrial Revolution, together with distinguished representatives from the Government of India. This is a timely opportunity to shed light on how to prepare the workforce of the future, and ensure that no one is left behind in doing so.  

Providing decent and productive work to disadvantaged groups is a significant global and national challenge. The figures are illustrative in this regard. The global youth unemployment rate is expected to be over 13% in 2017, with 71 million young individuals unemployed.  The labour force participation rate for youth has been decreasing, from 53.6% in 2000 down to 45.8% last year.  Women, especially young females, are disproportionately affected by a lack of enriching employment opportunities. For instance, most care and household duties in sub-Saharan Africa are carried out by women, which comes at the expense of paid employment.  Globally, the participation of young women in the workforce in 2016 was around 16% lower than that of young men.  

The challenge of sustainable employment will be more complex to address in the upcoming years, especially with the changes brought by the 4th Industrial Revolution, which is radically changing the traditional conception of a workforce. Through increasing automation and robotics, many occupations in the labour-intensive sectors are at risk. At the same time, new types of jobs are emerging. As highlighted by the World Economic Forum, 65% of children who are starting primary school today will be working in occupations that do not yet exist.  Skill and labor demand across industries is changing rapidly. These trends also have diverse effects on people with different skill levels. On one hand, the demand for highly skilled workers is rising. On the other, workers with lower skill levels are becoming increasingly vulnerable to losing their jobs, or rather, their jobs are prone to disappearing.

This raises two critical questions – what could be done to ensure that the global workforce has the necessary skill set to drive the 4th Industrial Revolution, and how can disadvantaged people be integrated to the market through skills development? The answer to both lies in new perspectives to plan for and prepare an inclusive and competitive workforce. An innovative approach in this regard consists in strengthening private sector involvement in the design and delivery of skills. Private sector, as the engine of growth, is best positioned to provide the capacity, knowledge, and expertise to reflect the labor market demands in trainings. In the end, private sector employs  90% of the workforce in developing countries.

I would like to refer to UNDP’s Istanbul Private Sector Center’s work here to illustrate this point further. The Center’s research series, How the Private Sector Develops Skills, highlighted several ways that the private sector can contribute to effective skills training, based on the experience of Turkey and India. Companies can support demand-driven trainings by sharing their human resource needs and labor market experience with training providers. Aligning education and training frameworks with the labor market demand, especially from the planning stage, reduces the risk of mismatches. For instance, IL&FS Skills from India works with over 1,000 partners from the industry to design its training programs in line with the human resource demand. The company has managed to train over 1.4 million individuals, out of which 500,000 were youth. 85% of these young individuals were placed in jobs.  

The private sector’s capacity for innovation and adoption of new technologies could also further leverage capacities for training. Online and distant learning opportunities have already been transforming the skilling space. Companies can foster practical and industry-relevant skills acquisition through internships, apprenticeships and other on-the-job learning opportunities. In short, the closer the private sector engagement in trainings, the smoother the transition to work for individuals, and the better the livelihood opportunities.  Our Istanbul Center has been advocating private sector-led approaches in skills delivery for the last five years, offering toolkits and project implementation support. We recently partnered with the HP Foundation to foster entrepreneurial learning, IT and core business skills to advance the SDGs.

Skills are also essential for countries to maximize the development benefits of foreign direct investments (FDI). To illustrate, over 80% of the incoming FDI to China includes green-field investments.  The new production facilities require a locally skilled workforce for operations, and then skills means more jobs and better livelihoods. After a more cautious approach to FDIs, India is now also aiming to attract international private capital for the growth of the manufacturing industry and job creation.  The country is actually matching FDIs with its aspirations to become a global manufacturing hub and human resource capital.  

Countries are thus recognizing the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships on skills training. India has made skills development a high priority to drive its sustainable and inclusive economic growth. More than 12 million people enter the workforce in India each year, yet many do not have the skills required for employment.   The Government of India has thus set a target to skill 400 million people by 2022. The private sector will be training more than a third of this number.  A comprehensive skills ecosystem has been established in the country, which builds on the close collaboration between public, private and civil society stakeholders. The esteemed panelists of this session and speakers in the following parallel roundtable discussions will share their insights and experience regarding this ecosystem.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that the engagement of companies in skills delivery is not a panacea for employment. The capacities and resources of all stakeholders are needed and trainings should resonate with economic and industrial policies. In the end, skills per se do not guarantee job creation.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the focus of skills development is not just-short term employment. It is indeed true that the private sector needs a skilled workforce for productivity and competitiveness. But it also important to realize that skills development is a pathway towards enriched choices for all, towards empowered and fulfilling lives. For individuals, skills are an enduring asset, which they can tap and nurture to overcome poverty and exclusion.

I would like to end by thanking our distinguished participants from India for joining us here today, to share their knowledge and expertise in this area. We are willing and ready to work with all partners to unlock the potential of skills needed for achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Address by Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, at the African Union-European Union Summit

(check against delivery)

I would like to begin by thanking President Ouattara for hosting this African Union‑European Union Summit here in Côte d’Ivoire.

This meeting has come at a very important juncture.

It rounds off a year of events focusing on Africa which began with the France–Africa Summit in Bamako. This was followed by the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, the European Development Days in Brussels and the G20 African Partnership Conference in Berlin.

And now here we are in Abidjan.

The very fact that we are meeting shows that at long last we have collectively grasped the importance of our partnership.

The time has come to translate words into actions, and this summit needs to be the guarantor of that.  

This is what our citizens are asking us, both in Europe and in Africa.

Last week, the European Parliament held an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities, including a high-level conference on the need to reinvigorate our partnership.

As I often say, we need to look at Africa through African eyes, and not European ones.

That is why we invited many delegations from African countries to that event, starting with the Central African Republic – I thank President Touadéra once again for attending.

There were also delegations from Mali – thank you, President Keita, for sending two of your government ministers – Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and a number of other countries.

The official bodies of the African Union also sent senior representatives, starting with my counterpart, the President of the Pan-African Parliament.

The European Parliament, as a directly elected institution, naturally attaches great importance to good relations between our two continents.

I would go still further and say that it regards such good relations as an absolute necessity.

We are tied by a common history, by our geography, by shared values and languages.

We have to nurture this comparative advantage on a daily basis not to let it slip away.

We do not only have common bonds, but also, and above all, common challenges and interests.

Let us not forget that together we represent more than one third of the countries in the world.

Together we can adopt common positions and achieve common goals in multilateral fora, such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, as we did during the negotiations on the Paris climate agreement.

This is our strength and that is the strategic interest which should bring us together and give us unity of purpose.

As I said, we have common challenges and interests. I will name just four: migration flows; the fight against terrorism; addressing climate change; economic growth and employment.

We must take action now in these four areas or it may be too late.

This time we are faced with an emergency in the form of Africa’s population explosion: 1 billion people today, 2.5 billion by 2050 and 4.4 billion by 2100.

Hence the theme of this Summit: youth.

Because of this population explosion, in the very near future Africa will have to create several million jobs to cater for the new arrivals on the job market.

It is those young people that we must offer a tangible response in the form of job opportunities and decent living conditions. In short, we must offer hope.

But first we need a new approach, one that is no longer be based solely on development assistance, but rather on a partnership of equals and on large-scale investment with the aim of developing the continent – with the focus on people, on the real economy, on SMEs and on entrepreneurs.

We have a duty to be ambitious.

That is why I keep saying that we need a genuine Marshall Plan for Africa with a budget of EUR 40 billion.

There is untapped potential in Africa. Genuine opportunities exist in a range of sectors – think of digitalisation, agriculture and rural development. But this also calls for high‑quality training and education –  not least for future leaders and managers.

University exchanges, legal migration and mobility must be used to drive development.

We must facilitate university exchanges, support the financing of exchanges through Erasmus+ and expand young entrepreneur exchange programmes.

This requires a joint effort from us, the European and African institutions, but also from the member countries – which means you.

I welcome on this score the initiatives taken by Chancellor Merkel and the German G20 Presidency, by Paolo Gentiloni and the Italian G7 Presidency and by President Macron, in particular as regards the Sahel.

This is a key region, and we must do everything we can to prevent it from collapsing and destabilising Africa as a whole, since this would create enormous risks for both our continents.

The Sahel is a perfect example of why a holistic approach is needed, because business, trade and investment can only flourish and generate jobs and sustainable, inclusive growth in a climate of peace, security, stability, respect for human rights and good governance.

The task ahead of us is a huge one.

Let me end, therefore, with an appeal.

Our summits take place every three years. That is barely enough to nurture a privileged relationship. We must meet more often. I therefore propose to meet every two years.

More than that, we must meet in between our summits for follow-up meetings for implementation at several levels including also the participation of civil society, the younger generations and the economic actors who will indeed materialise and push forward our ambitions. 

That was the thrust of the declaration which was adopted at yesterday’s Parliamentary Summit and which my counterpart from the Pan-African Parliament and I are submitting to you today.

Thank you.

Gender Equality Gap Growing, Not Narrowing, Says Deputy Secretary-General in Nelson Mandela Lecture on Reducing Inequality through Inclusion

Following is the fifteenth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, “Centring Gender: Reducing Inequality through Inclusion and Sustainability”, as prepared for delivery by Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed in Cape Town today:

I am deeply grateful to the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Board of Trustees for this tremendous honour.  As Deputy Secretary‑General of the United Nations and a former Minister in my country, I have been fortunate to experience many remarkable moments in my life, but few have been more humbling than standing before you today.  The speakers who have come before me have all walked a path of courage, compassion and conviction, they are truly a hard act to follow.

I am particularly honoured to be here this year, as we approach the centenary commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s birth in 2018.  My feelings about Nelson Mandela —Madiba — are deep.  They are shared across this country, this continent and our world.  Twenty‑seven years ago, Mandela was freed after 27 years of unjust imprisonment.  At 71, he finally walked his long road to freedom.  We all stand today on his shoulders, with a shared sense of the respect, admiration and pride for the feat that he accomplished.

As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, I was proud of our country’s contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa.  For the first time, paying taxes had a profound meaning for many of us.  History has moved on since then — but we should never forget this solidarity.  To reach across borders is to transcend differences, protect our core values and combat all that threatens our humanity.  Today, our world needs this more than ever.  The fabric of our society is fast losing its vibrancy and strength.

Multilateralism, peace, development and human rights are all threatened by a leadership vacuum across the globe.  Yet we see sparks of hope in our continent where the African spirit of solidarity is expressed even in the most challenging of times.  For example, Uganda with its myriad challenges still manages to host hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees, giving them hope and a chance to survive and thrive.

As a young girl, my earliest memory of the liberation struggle was when I was 11 years old and I asked my father if we could visit South Africa.  He sighed and said no, that was impossible for a family like ours of mixed heritage.

Why not? I wanted to know.  He tried to explain the unexplainable; that as constituted — black father, white mother — we would be breaking the law.  In apartheid South Africa, we would be segregated — mother, father and child — by race.  The horrifying reality saddened me — that human beings could do that to one another.  Later in life, like millions of other people, I instinctively understood that this racist system was a truly frightening abomination — a violation of all that makes us human and a threat to the fabric of society.

Yet the unbending courage and conviction of Nelson Mandela, his leadership and his comrades kept the world full of hope.  President Mandela once observed that the depth of oppression in South Africa at that time created the height of character demonstrated by the leaders of the African National Congress (ANC).  I believe solidarity and the deep sense of one’s right to justice kept the flame alight.

In the course of history, among great leaders, Mandela towered — but he was the first to say he was not a perfect human.  In fact, yesterday I had the privilege of being given a tour of the office and archives at the Nelson Mandela foundation, and read in his own writing how Madiba reflected on this, when writing a book on his years as President.  He noted that he was concerned that he not be regarded as a saint.  He would have preferred to live as a man — to remind us that the possibility of such humanity exists in each of us — than to be turned into a myth.

Mandela confessed some qualities that could be considered flaws.  But he manifested them as virtues.  For example, we learned he was stubborn — but his stubbornness was attached to a profound sense of fairness.  Nelson Mandela was unrelentingly stubborn where it counted: in fighting for justice and equality.  These are core values that I believe are reflected in the issue that I am pleased to have been asked to speak to today — centring gender and reducing inequality through inclusion and sustainability.

This struck me as an ideal subject for a lecture in the name of Nelson Mandela, as it provides an opportunity for me to address what remains perhaps the most pervasive inequality globally, in every country and every society — that of gender inequality.  And to reflect on it at an opportune moment — as we launch today the 16 days of activism and mark the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women — but also as we witness a now a global movement, building momentum to say no more will this violence against half our populations (our mothers, sisters, daughters) be invisible or, worse still, treated with indifference.

Nelson Mandela’s profound legacy contains the inspiration we need to address the core of my lecture: putting people at the centre to reduce inequality through inclusion and sustainability.  Contemplating the driving force behind Mandela’s spirit — its depth, its compassion, and source of energy — I would have to sum it up simply by saying: the courage of one’s convictions.  Madiba was courage even when in his darkest moments he thought he may not have any to give.  His moral courage was defined in his DNA.  He would never compromise his convictions even at the cost of his freedom.  He stared life‑threatening danger in the face and refused to be cowed.  He lived through his family’s suffering, for his long walk to freedom was also that of his nearest and dearest.

When he declared that he was prepared to die for the ideal of a democratic and free society, this was not an academic promise even if it started as an ideal.  Mandela made his declaration in an entirely undemocratic, racist society before a judge who was weighing whether to impose the death penalty.  The judge stopped short of capital punishment — but his sentence to imprisonment on Robben Island put Mandela at grave risk and tantamount to being the living dead.

Today, I had the immense honour of seeing Robben Island for the second time.  I thank Tokyo Sexwale for granting me a personal tour.  As I walked across the landscape, I thought about Nelson Mandela’s arrival, along with his fellow political prisoners.  The prison warders spoke to them like animals, urging them to move faster.  But Mandela led his fellow political prisoners to slow their pace.

The State could rob Mandela of his freedom but never his dignity.  As Mandela himself said often, the struggle succeeded thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of thousands of nameless individuals who stood up to the violent, racist ideology of apartheid and gave their lives to the cause.  We must honour this legacy by realizing their vision of true equality.

The Constitution of South Africa is a shining example of turning the most brutal lessons of a bloody history into the most humane protections of a rights‑based ideal.  In so many ways, South Africa has been a leader internationally.  The United Nations is proud to have benefited from the wise counsel and active contributions of a number of sons and daughters of this great nation.  This includes my colleague, the outstanding head of UN‑Women, Phumzile Mlambo‑Ngcuka, who I am proud to call a sister, friend and mentor.  I know that she is saddened to not be here with you today, however today marks the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and her leadership in raising awareness on this global pandemic is needed elsewhere.

She follows in the footsteps of other South Africans, including Navi Pillay, our former High Commissioner for Human Rights.  There are many others — Charlotte Maxeke, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Gertrude Shope, Ruth First, Fatima Meer, Adelaide Tambo, Emma Mashinini, Winnie Madikizela‑Mandela, Sophia [Williams]‑De Bruyn, Helen Suzman, Mamphela Ramphele.  I highlight these few only to show how South African women have been at the vanguard of change globally.  They are the product of an incredible women’s movement in this country.

In the mid‑1950s, some 20,000 women of this country marched to protest the pass laws.  Their slogan was powerful: “You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock”.  Many have cited this moment as a turning point in the struggle against apartheid.  From that moment in the 1950s, through the struggle, the negotiations for a democratic country, and the constitutional assembly that provided this country with one of the most progressive constitutions globally, South Africa women have been leaders for change.  They are proof of one simple fact: given the opportunity to participate fully, we have in half our population the capacity, resources, and potential to address the most pressing challenges we currently face.  What is needed is to break down institutional and attitudinal barriers and invest in the full contribution of women and girls to their societies and countries.

Gender equality was central to Madiba’s vision of equality, and central to the struggle for freedom.  This was the result of women’s tireless mobilization.  But it was also a reflection of leadership that understood that equality cannot be selectively applied.  Leadership who held a vision of a society where there was no discrimination on the basis of race, class, gender or any other category.  Nelson Mandela taught that freedom is indivisible, noting that “the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them; the chains on all of my people were the chains on me”.

Speaking before the first Parliament in 1994, he declared that “freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”.  He practised what he preached.  A number of women here today were present in 1992 at an historic ANC conference in Durban, where Mandela stood up to men who opposed his firm pledge of a 30 per cent quota for women MPs.  It is this kind of leadership that we need globally at the moment to achieve transformative and sustainable change within a short period of time.

This is important.  As when it comes to gender equality we are often told that change takes time — perhaps even generational change.  This country is evidence that wholesale change is possible.  During the democratic transition, women’s representation in Parliament increased ten‑fold, from 2.7 per cent to 27 per cent.  African women went in a few short years from the indignity of being a minor from the cradle to the grave, to holding some of the most powerful positions politically and economically.

Yet sadly, the long walk to freedom for women and adolescent girls globally remains unfinished.  The continuous battle of overcoming structural barriers as well as cultural and social challenges must be fought with a new narrative that addresses the current context and constituency of young people left behind.  Around the world, women still hold less than one third of senior management positions in the private sector.  Fewer than one quarter of all parliamentarians are women.  Violence against women — in homes and war zones — remains a global pandemic.  Up to one in three women has experienced violence in her lifetime.  There are nearly 50 countries that do not even have laws against domestic violence.  In 37 countries, marriage excuses rape.

This country knows these statistics all too well.  Reading the front page of a Johannesburg daily newspaper yesterday, I saw similar facts — one in four women are the victims of violent abuse, an estimated 100 rapes occur per day, and half of children are abused before they turn 18.  Marginalized and younger women are particularly at risk and often suffer greater consequences.  Young women who experience intimate partner violence are 50 per cent more likely to have acquired HIV than women who have not experienced violence.  And while we have seen positive progress to address violence against women in some countries, in others we have, in fact, witnessed a push back on women’s rights and the dismantling of legal protections from violence weakening our struggling democracies.

On the economic front, if we look at the labour force, we find women doing some of the most important work in society for the least compensation.  Unpaid domestic work — which often involves taking care of loved ones — falls on three times more women than men.  In the formal workplace, women’s equal contribution is not valued equally.  And women earn on average 70 cents to every dollar earned by a man.  This ratio is far greater among marginalized groups.

A report issued by the World Economic Forum last month noted that it would take 217 years to equalize the pay and employment opportunities of men and women.  Perhaps most disturbing is that this number has increased from the 170 years researchers calculated a year ago — meaning that we are in fact seeing the gender equality gap increasing rather than decreasing.  Reproductive health services and reproductive rights have been hard‑won in many places — but now they face new threats.  This despite the fact that we know that access to family planning measures are some of the most impactful tools we have to address poverty among women.  These stark statistics and facts are only one side of the picture, however.  The empowerment of women is more than a social imperative or a matter of justice.  It is essential to achieving sustainable development, protecting our environment and securing peace.

According to the World Bank, girls who finish school earn nearly 70 per cent more than girls who have to drop out — and that boosts GDP annual growth rates by 1.5 per cent.  When women are kept out of the labour force, everyone pays the price.  Put another way, we know that women’s equal participation in the labour force would unlock $12 trillion in global growth.  Money that could be used to further access to education, health and services for all.

We have evidence that one of the greatest predictors of stability and resilience to conflict is levels of gender equality in a society, and that women’s meaningful participation in peace processes increases the sustainability of peace by 30 per cent over the long term.  There could not be a more important moment to realize the importance of gender equality to the challenges that we face.  Our current global context includes sustained and horrifying levels of violence across a number of new and protracted conflicts, taking development gains backwards and leading to the highest levels of individuals uprooted from their homes at any time since the end of [the Second World War].

One of the greatest threats to global security is violent extremism.  I have seen its effects in my own country and around the world, and I have met with the survivors.  Extremists of all types seek to curtail women’s rights — the rights to education, health, political life; freedom of association and movement, and freedom to make choices.  Violent extremists are using gender norms to radicalize and recruit, redefining the roles and identity of men and women.  It is for this reason that gender equality is anathema — and a big part of the solution — to ending violent extremism.  Coming from north‑eastern Nigeria, I know terrorists are not born but shaped from an environment that excludes young people, decimates religious teaching and cultural beliefs, converting communities to an ideology of subjugation.

Two weeks ago, I had an extraordinary set of meetings in my office.  As Deputy Secretary‑General, it is common for me to speak to high‑level officials, but that day I met with teenagers.  First, I had a dialogue with a young girl named Ekhlas Bajoo.  She is a Yazidi woman who was captured and held by Da’esh, suffering horrific atrocities.  I was deeply moved by her plight.  But what struck me even more than her incredible story of endurance was her powerful voice for justice.

This young girl had been through worse crimes than most of us could imagine.  And yet she was an outspoken, strong and unstoppable advocate for the cause of peace and an end to violence against women and girls.  As we walked out of my office, there were two young women ready for my next appointment, one of whom was Hauwa Mohammed, victimized by Boko Haram.  A lone face out of the thousands of girls, like the Chibok girls, who have suffered as a result of the terrorism in my own country, Nigeria.  The young woman from Nigeria and this young woman from Iraq instantly embraced each other.  Although they spoke different languages they easily communicated messages to each other.  They said, “Don’t give up hope.  Let us win over the terrorists.  Let us reach across divisions.  Let us build a better world.”

I left that day knowing that there is nothing more important than giving girls like these a platform to reach the world for those left behind without an authentic voice.  Sadly, the context we face in our world today poses new threats beyond terrorism; we also face the major threat to security and development posed by climate change, exacerbating poverty and vulnerability of the poorest in our societies.  No one can deny that climate change is real, man‑made and has a role in pushing up global temperatures — and therefore we know humankind is responsible for and can address the problem before it is too late.  The signs are with us everywhere across the globe.

We know that women — especially in poor countries — are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  In the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, five times as many women as men died.  In the Indian Ocean tsunami, women accounted for more than two thirds of all deaths.  In recent months, the Caribbean witnessed hurricanes that wiped out the GDP of a country overnight.  These storms will become more intense and frequent in the coming months and years

These crises as a result of climate change can be turned into opportunities to build back better for all, addressing the investment gap for women that reduces the potential and value of a country by 50 per cent.  Socially, environmentally and politically, women have proven that when you invest in them, you get results for all.  The question is how to build on these gains and achieve true gender equality.  The answer is investment in women’s empowerment in all its ramifications, along with a cultural shift in mindsets so that women’s equality is a given in all societies.

I have skirted the surface of the huge challenges we face today and I believe, from Cape Town and its drought to the lost opportunity of South Sudan and its hard‑won independence, to the Sahel and its battle with terrorism, human slavery and drug trafficking, to Myanmar and the ethnic cleansing we are witnessing, to femicide in Latin Amercia, opiod wars in middle [United States], to migration and refugee crises in Europe, our global village is truly in a mess.  But all is not lost.  In 2015, the world came together and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was born.  It was a four‑year journey that was the most inclusive process ever held by the United Nations for development.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Graça Machel, who served as one of the eminent Sustainable Development Goal advocates — and a member of the High‑level Panel on the post‑2015 agenda.  The 2030 Agenda constitutes a universal plan of action for ending poverty and ensuring a life of dignity for all.  It has been called a “declaration of interdependence” composed of 17 Goals and 169 targets.  The Goals represent unprecedented ambition to free humankind from the tyranny of want.  They envisage transforming the way Governments interact with people, businesses interact with communities, and all of us interact with our environment.  The Goals have already achieved a seismic shift in our approach to development.

The framework builds on the many successes since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  About two thirds of countries in developing regions have gender parity in primary education, fewer women die in childbirth, and more girls survive past childhood.  We could literally fill this entire hall with documents proving that well‑educated women who have equality in political participation and the jobs market raise income for everyone — and improve living standards for generations to come.

Women and girls are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These Goals can change history by ensuring women’s rights and leadership around the world.  In the United Nations, I am very proud that our Secretary‑General, António Guterres, speaks out at every opportunity against misogynist mindsets.  He is working for gender equality within the United Nations and around the world.  His new strategy on gender parity provides a road map to reach parity within the United Nations, and we are working on strengthening our own financing, capacity and expertise on gender equality so that we can better support countries to achieve their own goals.  So we are walking the talk.  But we will only realize the potential of the SDGs if we take seriously the values of inclusion and leaving no one behind.  The sustainable change that we need to see will only be possible if we are including young people — girls and boys.

I have spoken at length about women and equality because it is true that women continue to be less equal then men globally.  But gender is not equal to women.  Gender inequality, norms, and stereotypes affect men and women, girls and boys.  When young boys are taught that it is not manly to cry, they learn to suppress their emotions.  When young men are taught that violence is masculine and accepted, we create the next generation of those who seek solutions at the barrel of a gun.  When society dictates the role of men as bread winners or aloof and distant fathers, we disempower families and create public policies that don’t match the reality of households.

In the past week I have invited those on social media to send me their thoughts on how we can achieve gender equality.  I thank all who participated.  Many of the comments were insightful and spoke of concrete actions and the need to ensure financial inclusion, address violence, and increase protections and services.  But what also struck me was the number of men who spoke of the need for gender inequality not to dispossess or disempower men.  While the dismantling of privilege is never easy, this country has perhaps shown us that it can only be done sustainably when all see the benefits for themselves and feel part of the solution.

Gender inequality affects every one of us.  And addressing it is equally our shared responsibility.  That change will need to happen with our youth.  Over the past two days we have heard the voices of our young girls here in Cape Town.  What they have spoken about is the need for girls to have space to convene, to support each other, to be listened to.  We are witnessing, as we speak, an unprecedented moment — a global momentum that may have begun in a perhaps unlikely place — but which is carrying reverberations in many corners of the world.  The #MeToo movement is opening new conversations, establishing new shared understandings of unacceptable behaviour, and shedding new light on the pervasive nature of gender inequality, as did the He4She campaign.  It is an opportunity to shift the tide, and one we should collectively seize for positive change.

Nelson Mandela had a very long walk to freedom.  Most of us could not even fathom his journey.  At the end, he said he “discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb”.  Leadership at all levels is the key.  Madiba showed tremendous integrity in stepping off the platform when the applause was loudest.  We should be inspired by his necessarily long walk and make a fast run to gender equality.  We need to galvanize the international community which includes us all, to invest in women and girls — and to give them space — so they can contribute to progress.

I am perhaps the first person to deliver this lecture who never met Nelson Mandela.  In a sense, I represent generations of people to come who will take inspiration from his life without ever having had the privilege of a personal encounter.  However, I believe I learned a little of who he was through a great woman of Mozambique and South Africa — his wife, his better half, his best friend, Graça Machel.  She embodies the same vast courage as her late husband — the same inspiring commitment and passion to raising a new generation of girls — and the same immense spirit of humanity.  A rare woman of substance who tells it like it is.

Collectively, we see the hills before us and we are challenged to climb them.  For climb we must.  If we feel defeated, we can return to Madiba’s indomitable bravery and humanism.  Nelson Mandela possessed a character that none of us could emulate — but we can all be inspired to try.

Just as the world came together to support the end of subjugation on the basis of race in this country, we need today to birth a new movement that calls for true equality, everywhere.  We as leaders must stand up and take collective responsibility for our current failings but also for the actions we must take to end the conflict, injustice, inequality, corruption and ensure true inclusive democracy, peace and prosperity for our people.

I leave you all with a call to action: to invest in the missing 50 per cent of our human asset base, the potential of our women and unleash their power for good; and to make good on the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals, starting with Goal 5 as your docking station for the other 16 Goals to create a world of true gender equality.

My promise to you as woman of colour, a Muslim, a proud mother of six and granny of one in a position of privileged responsibility serving alongside António Guterres, to strive to leave the United Nations fit for the purpose of healing our world and ensuring we keep hope alive for those who deserve a life of respect and dignity.  In Madiba’s words, it always seems impossible until it’s done.

I thank you all for your kind patience and attention.

Rethinking the value of water

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Water securityRethinking the value of water

Published 27 November 2017

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Research highlights the accelerating pressure on measuring, monitoring and managing water locally and globally. A new four-part framework is proposed to value water for sustainable development to guide better policy and practice.

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The value of water for people, the environment, industry, agriculture and cultures has been long-recognized, not least because achieving safely-managed drinking water is essential for human life. The scale of the investment for universal and safely-managed drinking water and sanitation is vast, with estimates around $114 billion per year, for capital costs alone. 

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>But there is an increasing need to re-think the value of water for two key reasons:

HE”>Water is not just about sustaining life, it plays a vital role in sustainable

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>


HE”>. Water’s value is evident in all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, from poverty alleviation and ending hunger, where the connection is long recognized – to sustainable cities and peace and justice, where the complex impacts of water are only now being fully appreciated.  

HE”>Water security is a growing global concern.

mso-bidi-language:HE”> The negative impacts of water shortages, flooding and pollution have placed water related risks among the top 5 global threats by the World Economic Forum for several years running. In 2015, Oxford-led research on water security quantified expected losses from water shortages, inadequate water supply and sanitation and flooding at approximately $500B USD annually.  Last month the World Bank demonstrated the consequences of water scarcity and shocks:  the cost of a drought in cities is four times greater than a flood, and a single drought in rural Africa can ignite a chain of deprivation and poverty across generations.

Oxford says that
“Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”> recognizing these trends, there is an urgent and global opportunity to re-think the value of water, with the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water launching a new initiative on Valuing Water earlier this year. The growing consensus is that valuing water goes beyond monetary value or price. In order to better direct future policies and investment we need to see valuing water as a governance challenge.

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Published in Science, the study was conducted by an international team (led by Oxford University) and charts a new framework to value water for the Sustainable Development Goals. Putting a monetary value on water and capturing the cultural benefits of water are only one step towards this objective. They suggest that valuing and managing water requires parallel and coordinated action across four priorities: measurement, valuation, trade-offs and capable institutions for allocating and financing water.

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Lead author Dustin Garrick, University of Oxford, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, explains: ‘Our paper responds to a global call to action: the cascading negative impacts of scarcity, shocks and inadequate water services underscore the need to value water better. There may not be any silver bullets, but there are clear steps to take. We argue that valuing water is fundamentally about navigating trade-offs. The objective of our research is to show why we need to rethink the value of water, and how to go about it, by leveraging technology, science and incentives to punch through stubborn governance barriers. Valuing water requires that we value institutions.’

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Co-author Richard Damania, Global Lead Economist, World Bank Water Practice said: “We show that water underpins development, and that we must manage it sustainably.  Multiple policies will be needed for multiple goals. Current water management policies are outdated and unsuited to addressing the water related challenges of the twenty-first century. Without policies to allocate finite supplies of water more efficiently, control the burgeoning demand for water and reduce wastage, water stress will intensify where water is already scarce and spread to regions of the world – with impacts on economic growth and the development of water-stressed nations.”

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>In conclusion, co-author Erin O’ Donnell, University of Melbourne adds: “2017 is a watershed moment for the status of rivers. Four rivers have been granted the rights and powers of legal persons, in a series of groundbreaking legal rulings that resonated across the world. This unprecedented recognition of the cultural and environmental value of rivers in law compels us to re-examine the role of rivers in society and sustainable development, and rethink our paradigms for valuing water.”

— Read more in Dustin E. Garrick et al., “Valuing water for sustainable development,” Science 358, no. 6366 (24 November 2017): 1003-05 (doi: 10.1126/science.aao4942)

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