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On official mission to China, Ms. Sharif gets warm reception
Beijing, 25 April 2019— UN-Habitat’s Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd. Sharif started her five day official visit to China this week at the invitation of the Chinese Government for the occasion of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The Executive Director started her visit by meeting with her counterpart Mr. Wang Menghui, the Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. She also met the Minister of Natural Resources Mr. Lu Hao, as well as other senior executives.
In 2017, UN-Habitat and the Government of China signed a high-level MoU on the collaboration within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. However, its longest-standing collaboration is with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, which started in 1991. To date, the UN-Habitat’s core activities in and with China are implemented on the basis of successive Frameworks of Cooperation with this Ministry. This also comprises the global collaboration for the World Cities Day celebrations.
The Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and Ms. Sharif discussed the forthcoming UN-Habitat Assembly, collaboration on outcomes areas within UN-Habitat’s new Strategic Plan 2020-2025 and other matters of joint interest.
The collaboration also extends to joint urban research on sustainable urban development of Chinese cities. Ms. Sharif encouraged the wider application of UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative (CPI), which measures whether urban and territorial growth is advancing and balanced. A pilot study of Wuhan’s CPI is near completion. Ministry officials as well as the affiliated China Academy for Urban Planning Design expressed strong interest to jointly study many more Chinese cities in this manner. Ms. Sharif also proposed city profiling in Belt and Road partner countries.
The Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Lu Hao, provided a thorough explanation about the institutional reform initiated in March 2018 in China. At that occasion, the Ministry of Natural Resources was created, with multiple mandates including national land management and national urban and territorial planning. The said reform was started to achieve a much-needed integrated decision-making on matters of land use, spatial planning and conservation of ecological assets.
The Executive Director also had a working meeting with the Director-General of the China Center of Urban Development, under the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC). The Director-General, Mr. Shi Yulong, praised the significant collaboration of CCUD and UN-Habitat since the First Belt and Road Forum in 2017. He presented Ms. Sharif with the first joint publication of CCUD and UN-Habitat, containing case studies on sustainable development of cities along the Belt and Road.
Further, Ms. Sharif had a meeting with the Chairman of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organisation, GEIDCO. Mr. Liu Zhenya in which they discussed joined research and initiatives on smart cities technologies.
The Executive Director will continue her official visit speaking at the Belt and Road Forum and signing new MoUs or Action Plans with NDRC, CCUD and GEIDCO. She will have discussions with the China International Development and Cooperation Agency and visit the cities of Xuzhou and Shanghai. She will also initiate a new private-sector supported programme on innovative technological solutions for China’s cities, the UN-Habitat China Future Cities Council. Wanxiang Group (Hangzhou) and XinChao Media (Chengdu) will be the partners at the start of this initiative, with more companies being invited.
The scope of the official visit underscores the significant and increasing support of China to UN-Habitat. UN-Habitat has innovative partnerships with several Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xuzhou. It collaborates with multiple national agencies. Several of them are exchanging staff with UN-Habitat headquarters. Training programmes bring overseas professionals to China. More joint publications are published. The World Cities Day receives significant support, nationally and internationally. At her meetings, Ms. Sharif expressed the hope that this collaboration would further grow, in China, in Belt and Road Countries and globally.