Global Development Initiative: a Chinese solution to risk mitigation

Source:Chinese Social Sciences Today 2023-02-20

At the 76th general debate of the UN General Assembly in September, 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and with great foresight emphasized the need to ensure global sustainable development. Since its proposal, the GDI has received warm and immediate welcome by the international community. Within just one year, more than 100 countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, showed their support for the initiative, and over 60 countries joined the “Group of Friends of GDI.”

Abated global consensus of solidarity

The pandemic erased at least four years of steady gains in global poverty reduction. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people living in extreme poverty was expected to be 581 million by the end of 2022. It is now estimated to be at least 657 million instead, with at least 76 million people back in extreme poverty, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022.

The greater danger to sustainable development is that the global consensus of solidarity has been dramatically abated. Unlike the close cooperation among nations to overcome difficulties following the global financial crisis in 2008, the politicized deeds by the US and Europe in tackling the pandemic have greatly undermined the sense of solidarity necessary to achieve sustainable development. Especially since the Trump administration, the US has become less inclusive and tolerant toward the outside world, and is increasingly determined to incite strategic competition among major powers. Despite its adjustments in policies, the Biden administration has largely inherited the strategic determination and logic of the Trump administration. In this context, the UN has explicitly emphasized that the world is now at a moment rarely seen in human history. Some experts have noted “COVID-19 is a preview of the ‘new normal.’” The “new normal” refers to the fact that humanity is entering a new epoch of the anthropocene, in which humans are becoming the dominant forces shaping the future of the planet. A major priority for the present epoch is to strengthen international unity.

What is more serious is that the willingness of some major countries to supply international public goods has declined significantly, with greatly expanding supply deficit. According to a comparison of foreign aid contributions made by the US and European powers in 2008 and 2020, the level of foreign aid among OECD Development Assistance Committee members increased significantly after the outbreak of 2008 global financial crisis; however, the level obviously decreased after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. During both crises, the willingness of the West to supply public goods was self-serving for their own benefit rather than for altruistic rescue.

Injecting certainties to addressing risks

The UN’s 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Report emphasizes that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has stalled for two years and hopes that the mid-term review in 2023 will be restarted. As a Chinese solution to risk mitigation, the GDI can inject visible certainties into risk management. The initiative gives priority to development and pursues harmonious coexistence between man and nature. By focusing on the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it helps to leave no country behind, injecting strong certainties into addressing medium-term risks of global sustainable development. As Xi reiterated in the Virtual Session of 2022 World Economic Forum, “the Initiative is a public good open to the whole world, which aims to form synergy with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and boost common development across the world.”

The GDI gives priority to development and is committed to action. Under the guidance that “development is the master key to solving all problems,” it practices true multilateralism. Providing an important and stable guarantee for alleviating the current crisis of sustainable development, it offers an innovative mentality that is based on Chinese experience for seeking sustainable development.


Zhang Chun is a research fellow from the Center for African Studies at Yunnan University.

Editor:Yu Hui

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