First, I would like to thank my good friend, Ambassador Jun, for the kind invitation to today’s event. I would also like to express the UAE’s appreciation for China’s essential leadership on the issue of sustainable development, which you rightly described as “the eternal pursuit of human society.” The UAE is proud to have been one of the first countries to join the Global Development Initiative (GDI) following President Xi Jinping’s announcement last September.
We are at a critical period for global development. When we adopted the 2030 Agenda seven years ago, we committed to a bold transformation that would address our most pressing development challenges without leaving anyone behind. Since then, there has been steady progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in setbacks in nearly every indicator; indeed, extreme poverty increased for the first time in a generation.
Thankfully, some of the most concerning trendlines slowed down in 2021, but we must accelerate our collective efforts to bring about an equitable recovery. At Expo Dubai a few days ago, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General kicked off the first Global Goals Week held outside New York by calling for a “surge of ambition, action, and mobilisation.” To that end, the GDI makes a crucial contribution.
I wish to highlight three aspects that are especially important for my country.
First, we strongly endorse the emphasis on an innovation-driven development process. The UAE has first-hand experience with the transformative capacity of new and advanced technologies. For example, our pandemic response plan was greatly enhanced by the investments and measures implemented under our 2016 National Innovation Strategy. Technological progress has tremendous potential for enabling rapid and widespread development, and a focus on innovation must shape our approach going forward.
Second, the Global Development Initiative prioritises climate action and green development. It correctly recognises that combatting climate change is not in opposition with comprehensive and equitable development, echoing the UAE’s own experience that net-zero, and progressive climate action are, in fact, drivers of the economy as well as drivers of job creation. We believe these are valuable messages as China hosts the COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity this spring, and the UAE hosts COP28 in 2023.
Third, the GDI builds on the enduring international consensus around sustainable development, including the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. That unanimity is a crucial incubator of partnership, particularly in a period of heightened global competition. We firmly believe that by pooling our energies towards cooperating on the issues that bind us, we would build momentum for a renewed, durable, and effective multilateralism.
The GDI’s concepts, principles, and priority areas align with the UAE’s approach to international development. Through our efforts to support developing countries to transition to renewable energy and our work with international partners to promote sustainable agriculture, our development programmes have always prioritised innovation, cooperation, and sustainability. Additionally, the GDI reflects our strong belief in equitable partnerships that support national management and ownership of the development process.
On behalf of the UAE, I would like to conclude by congratulating China on its continued leadership on global development, which is exemplified today by the GDI. The multilateral cooperation which the GDI fosters is critical for our commitment to achieving the SDGs by 2030.
I look forward to working with all of you in our shared journey to achieve that milestone.