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Belt & Road initiative can help achieve Sustainable Development Goals
Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Beijing
The Belt and Road initiative linking China and the Eurasia region can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, provided it addresses the needs of millions of farmers and fisherfolk in the countries involved. This was stated in Beijing by José Graziano da Silva, director general, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“Agriculture is a crucial sector. It accounts for more than 25 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as for more than 40 per cent of employment in many countries involved in the initiative,” he added.

Graziano da Silva made the remarks at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. “The event,” he said, “provided a unique impetus for an international concerted effort to promote a more balanced, equitable and inclusive development along the Belt and Road.”

Leaders from 29 countries were participating in the Forum which, under the One Belt, One Road initative, focuses on expanding development and trade links between Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, as mentioned by Chinese president Xi Jinping in his opening remarks.

The FAO chief underscored that agriculture was not only important for generating and promoting sustainable livelihoods, but it is essential for ensuring food and nutrition security, preserving natural resources and biodiversity and promoting rural development.

The United Nations agency has been the first international organisation to develop a specific framework to reinforce policy coordination in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative with relation to the agriculture sector.

The framework seeks to promote four flagship programmes: one health approach for sustainable agriculture and trade; sustainable food production and value chain development; science and technology for agri-food innovation to combat climate-change, and smart agriculture and information and communications technology (ICT) application in the food industry.

China - Leading role in South-South Cooperation
The Belt and Road, according to Graziano da Silva, opened a great opportunity among all countries involved to engage in South-South Cooperation, a FAO-promoted model of development which has proven effective in creating jobs, building infrastructure and promoting trade among developing countries across the global South.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank the Chinese government for playing a leading role in the support of FAO’s South-South cooperation programme. It has benefited over 30 countries and produced strong impacts in developing countries,” he added.

Xi’s keynote speech indicated that China will provide an additional $1 billion to support international organisations to implement a series of projects to benefit countries along the Belt and Road.

This will allow linking the Overseas Development Assistance already provided with policy advice, trade and long-term investments, which is what is particularly relevant for developing countries’ deprived rural areas.
 
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