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A Leaders’ Roundtable agreed on a Joint Communiqué that recognizes that an “open, inclusive, interconnected, sustainable and people-centered world economy can contribute to prosperity for all,” and reaffirms commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The Joint Communiqué underlines the importance of addressing climate change and environmental protection and promoting green development.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission launched the Belt and Road Green Lighting Initiative, with the UNDP, UNIDO and ESCAP, and the Belt and Road Green Cooling Initiative, with UNIDO, ESCAP and the Energy Foundation.

27 April 2019: Heads of State and UN leaders agreed on a Joint Communiqué and over 283 deliverables at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). UN agencies and others announced joint projects and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in support of inclusive, sustainable development during the Forum.

Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Forum with a keynote address. He identified infrastructure as “the cornerstone of connectivity and a bottleneck of development confronting many countries,” and stressed that building infrastructure can help countries to better integrate into global industry, supply and value chains. Xi highlighted the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an opportunity for building affordable, high quality, inclusive, resilient and sustainable infrastructure. [BRF Press Release on Chinese President Keynote Address]

In his remarks at the Forum’s opening, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed two main concerns. First, he stated, at current trends, the world will only be “halfway towards achieving the SDGs” by 2030, and financial resources available for developing countries are not sufficient. Second, he warned, climate change “poses an existential risk to all countries,” jeopardizes plans for inclusive, sustainable development, and threatens decades of progress. Guterres urged leaders to come to his Climate Action Summit in September 2019 with “credible and ambitious plans.” He called for three key actions: ensuring that the BRI accelerates efforts to achieve the SDGs; using the BRI to close significant financing gaps to achieve the SDGs, particularly for inclusive, sustainable and durable infrastructure investments in developing countries; and expanding policy options for green and sustainable development that is backed by green financing instruments. [UN Secretary-General Opening Statement]

In his remarks to a ‘Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,’ the Secretary-General echoed the emphasis on green and sustainable development, and his call for ambitious climate action. He urged leaders to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, end fossil fuel subsidies, refrain from starting construction of new coal plants beyond 2020, and transform the world with inclusive, sustainable growth that is “fully compatible with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs.” [UN Secretary-General Statement at Leaders’ Roundtable] [UN News Story on Secretary-General Address]

Infrastructure is the cornerstone of connectivity and a bottleneck of development confronting many countries.

Leaders of 40 countries and international organizations participated in the Leaders’ Roundtable, chaired by Xi. The Roundtable agreed on a Joint Communiqué that reaffirms the essential role of strengthened multilateralism in addressing global challenges and recognizes that an “open, inclusive, interconnected, sustainable and people-centered world economy can contribute to prosperity for all.” The Communiqué reaffirms commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and looks forward to “restoring and rejuvenating” the spirit of the ancient Silk Road and enhanced connectivity and cooperation based on “extensive consultation, joint efforts, shared and mutual benefits.” Leaders emphasize their support for partnership based on transparency, openness and inclusiveness, and a universal, rules-based, transparent, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) “at its core.”

On the environment and a green economy, the Joint Communiqué underlines the importance of addressing the challenges of climate change and environmental protection, including through enhanced cooperation to implement the Paris Agreement. Leaders underline the importance of promoting green development, and express commitment to “promoting sustainability in all its forms.” Leaders further support the development of sustainable blue economy, and call for further intensifying international maritime cooperation while sustainably managing marine and coastal ecosystems. The Joint Communiqué also encourages, inter alia: development of green finance, including green bonds and green technology; enhanced cooperation on a circular economy, environmental protection and integrated water resources management (IWRM); increased cooperation in protecting biological diversity, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and resilience and disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster risk management (DRM).

On infrastructure, leaders strive to build “high-quality, reliable, resilient and sustainable infrastructure” that contributes to sustainable development of participating countries and industrialization of developing countries. The Joint Communiqué emphasizes the importance of projects’ economic, social, financial and environmental sustainability and “striking a good balance among economic growth, social progress and environmental protection.” To promote investable, bankable, economically viable and environment-friendly projects, leaders support improving cooperation in project preparation and implementation, and call on all market players to fulfill their corporate social responsibility and follow the UN Global Compact (UNGC) principles. Leaders further support strengthening energy infrastructure to enhance energy security and promote access to affordable, clean, renewable and sustainable energy for all. [Joint Communiqué] [BRF Press Release on Leaders’ Roundtable]

The BRF list of deliverables includes 283 results across six categories: 1) initiatives proposed or launched by China; 2) bilateral and multilateral documents signed immediately before or during the second BRF; 3) multilateral cooperation mechanisms under the BRF framework; 4) investment projects and project lists; 5) financing projects; and 6) projects by local authorities and enterprises. For example, China will continue to implement the Green Silk Road Envoys Program to train 1,500 environmental officials from participating BRF countries over the next three years. China also officially launched the BRI Environmental Big Data Platform and the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change. China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly launched the Declaration on Accelerating the SDGs for Children through Shared Development in the Belt and Road partner countries. China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank issued the first Belt and Road Bankers Roundtable Mechanism (BRBR) green bond, and jointly released the Belt and Road Green Finance Index with BRBR mechanism members, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank and the Mizuho Bank. [BRF List of Deliverables]

China’s National Development and Reform Commission also launched the Belt and Road Green Lighting Initiative, with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the Belt and Road Green Cooling Initiative, with UNIDO, ESCAP and the Energy Foundation. According to ESCAP, these two initiatives will deepen collaboration on market reform, policy and technology to improve the efficiency of energy use for lighting and cooling. ESCAP will support knowledge management and policy dialogue on efficient energy cooling, and strengthen capacity building on energy efficiency policies and standards. [ESCAP Press Release on Energy Efficiency Initiatives]

Over 100 international and Chinese partner institutions, including the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and eight intergovernmental organizations, launched the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC). The Coalition aims to help integrate sustainable development considerations into the design, execution and implementation of BRI projects. It is anticipated to serve as a platform for policy dialogue, data exchange and cooperation on green technology. [IISD Press Release on BRIGC]

On sustainable cities, China announced a Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance. The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) announced additional collaborations within the framework of the BRI. [UN-HABITAT Press Release]

China hosted the Second BRF in Beijing, China, from 25-27 April 2019. [UN News Story on Forum] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2017 Belt and Road Forum]

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