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UN-Habitat to extend joint engagements through China’s Sustainable Cities Alliance
Beijing 30 April 2019—Riding on the new Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance announced by President of China Xi Jiping, UN-Habitat has announced more collaborations. These will be done in the framework of China Belt and Road Initiative which will now be extended with joint engagements through the new Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance.
At the opening of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, on 27 April, President Xi Jinping of China announced a new Belt and Road Sustainable Cities Alliance. The opening session was also attended by UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd. Sharif. One day earlier, Ms. Sharif and the Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Committee (NDRC) signed a new Belt and Road Action Plan. She also extended the MOU with the China Center for Urban Development (CCUD), under NDRC.
Ms. Sharif addressed a special session of the Belt and Road Forum on the subject of policy connectivity. She underscored that policy, regulatory and institutional cooperation contributes to collective prosperity amongst the cities and regions in partner countries. Recognizing cultural diversity and climate challenges, Ms. Sharif underscored the need to make resilience the basis for the development of trade networks, and in the towns and cities that create these networks. She took up the same issues and messages when meeting in Beijing with Mr. Zhou Liujun, the vice-chairman of the new China International Development Cooperation Agency.
Ms. Sharif’s first official visit to China, at the occasion of the Second International Belt and Road Forum, had started earlier in the week with high-level meetings with the Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Minister of Natural Resources, as well as with prominent national and international institutions. On 27 April, she continued her mission by visiting the cities of Xuzhou, in Jiangsu Province, and Shanghai.
The Xuzhou Municipal Government had received the 2018 Scroll of Honour for the transformation it had accomplished of this erstwhile heavily polluted mining center. The city of more than 10 million people and four million residents has reinvented itself over the past 20 years as a showcase of urban eco-restoration. The city has converted erstwhile mining sites in either parks and lakes or new economy development zones. Ms. Sharif was received by the Party Secretary and the Mayor, Mr. Zhou Tiegen and Mr. Zhuang Zhaolin respectively. After bilateral discussions, Ms. Sharif visited several city parks and wetlands, as well as a heritage conservation area and an integrated community center.
On the last day of her China visit, Ms. Sharif was in Shanghai where she was received by the Mayor Mr. Ying Yong. The Shanghai Municipal Government was the original city promoter of the United Nations’ World Cities Day. The mayor welcomed Ms. Sharif warmly and offered strong support to UN-Habitat to ensure that global and national World Cities Day celebrations would be even stronger yearly advocacy milestones of UN-Habitat and its global partners
Ms. Sharif also visited the Shanghai Coordination Center of World Cities Day as well as the New Development Bank, which was founded by the BRICS association and is headquartered in Shanghai. She visited the creative heritage Tianzi Fang quarter in downtown Shanghai and met with the leadership and students of Tongji University, including of the colleges of architecture and urban planning as well as environmental science and engineering.
Having been mayor of Penang, Malaysia for seven years before she became UN-Habitat’s Executive Director in 2018, Ms. Sharif showed strong appreciation for the vision and determination of the city leaders and officials she met in the last two days of her visit. At all occasions, she extended warm invitations to UN-Habitat’s forthcoming flagship events, the first UN-Habitat Assembly in May in Nairobi, the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum in Penang, Malaysia and the 2019 World Cities Day celebration in Yekaterinburg, Russia, both in October and the 10th World Urban Forum in February 2020 in Abu Dhabi.