On 24 June the DOC, in collaboration with the Center for China and Globalisation (CCG), the Academy of Contemporary China and the World Studies (ACCWS), and the Center for International Security and Strategy, Tsinghua University, hosted an online forum in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations titled “Enhancing multilateralism to collectively achieve the sustainable development goals”.
Welcoming representatives from a host of international institutions, including the World Bank, the WTO, the IMF, UNICEF, UNDP and the UN, and with keynote speeches by former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Resident Coordinator of the UN China, Nicholas Rosellini, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, Gabriela Ramos, and Deputy Director-General of the WTO Yi Xiaozhun, the online forum consisted of two discussions.
Across the two discussions of the day, a common theme emerged that, although we should be grateful for the multilateral framework set up in the wake of WW2, this system is faltering as it fails to keep up with global changes. As globalisation has proceeded in the era of relative peace and prosperity following the end of the war, there have been growing sections of international society that feel left behind, culminating in an increase in countries declaring their interests first as populist leaders react to these sentiments. As Dr. Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the DOC remarked, the most prominent example of this is Brexit. While globalisation has benefitted many, lifting 1 billion people out of poverty, it is increasingly being associated with climate change and inequality.
It was discussed how the present pandemic has brought this fact into stark relief, as it highlights the increased inequalities that abound within countries, particularly within those worst affected by COVID-19. The trend in recent years of a concentration of wealth at the top and deprivation at the bottom is testing the post-WW2 multilateral system and exposing its vulnerabilities. The mistrust in multilateral institutions stemming out of this trend is being compounded by the lack of a global leadership committed to the values of international solidarity and cooperation. The pulling of funds from international organisations and the increasingly isolationist strategies being pursued by President Trump and other uncollaborative medium-sized powers also threatens the -achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the agenda 2030.
The present crisis should thus act as a wake-up call for multilaterally-minded actors. Whilst the 2030 agenda and the global commitment to the SDGs represent a significant success for multilateralism, by bringing 192 countries together to agree on these goals, it was affirmed throughout the forum that more needs to be done to achieve them. COVID-19, described by David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva as one of those global seismic changes that only occurs every few centuries, was recognized by all speakers as an opportunity to refresh and reassert commitment to the climate change targets agreed in 2015, as well as the other SDGs.
To do so, it was stated that new standards for cooperation were needed, as new developmental players such as China, emerge globally. Furthermore, as the centre of economic gravity shifts to developing countries, global governance needs to incorporate greater diversity and inclusion to reflect that. The discussants agreed that greater diversity means also including actors from civil society and business fields. Looking above the state level, policy coherence between the UN and the WTO, OECD, and international financial institutions is needed, as well as global leadership that promotes the SDGs and global action to tackle the present crisis and the looming climate crisis. The latter threatens to plunge 220 million people worldwide into poverty if left unchecked, said Beate Trankman of the UNDP, however she was optimistic, since the immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak of a worldwide lockdown, shows that the world is capable of responding to crises caused by a deteriorating climate.
In his concluding remarks, DOC CEO and moderator of the forum’s second discussion Jean-Christophe Bas, distilled the day’s dialogue into a concrete call for action off the back of some inspiring suggestions. He said, “today’s talks have showed that there is a distinct need for a new framework of global leadership and responsibility. We have seen over the past 75 years how peace and prosperity have prevailed despite profound differences, and now more than ever we must see beyond our differences and work together to build a sustainable model of global governance that will see us through this crisis and be of benefit to all.”
UN Agencies, international institutions & think tanks represented:
Center for China and Globalization
Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute
International Monetary Fund
Paris Peace Forum
World Trade Organisation
International Labour Organisation
Valdai Club Foundation
UN Development Programme
Academy of Contemporary China and the World Studies (ACCWS)
Speakers in the online forum:
Wang Huiyao (moderator), President, Center for China and Globalization (CCG); Counselor for the State Council
David Chikvaidze, Chef de Cabinet of the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Martin Raiser, Country Director for China and Mongolia, and Korea, World Bank
Justin Vaisse, Director-General, Paris Peace Forum
SHA Zukang, Former Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations (UN)
Vladimir Yakunin, Co-Founder & Supervisory Board Chairman, Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC)
ZHU Min, Former Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Jean-Christophe Bas (moderator), Chief Executive Officer, Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC)
Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, the Valdai Club Foundation
Michele Geraci, Former Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development
Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director of Country Office for China and Mongolia, ILO
Douglas Noble, China Country Representative, UNICEF
Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20
Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China
YU Yunquan, President, Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies (ACCWS)
You can watch back the stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CZw11Yh83E
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