Développement durable: François-Xavier de Donnea participe au 2e Forum International sur la Route de la Soie

Trade flows, including those along the Belt and Road, should comply with international environmental, fiscal and social norms that are imbedded in international rules and that are in line with our commitments for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

François-Xavier de Donnea a représenté la Belgique, ces 25 et 26 avril, à Pékin au deuxième forum international sur la Route de la Soie (Belt and Road Forum).

A cette occasion, il a eu un entretien avec le vice-ministre de l’Ecologie et de l’Environnement, M. Zhao Yingmin.

François-Xavier de Donnea, qui participait au panel  sur la « Green Belt and Road», y a prononcé l’intervention suivante :

« I would like to thank the organizers of this Green Silk Road panel, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the National Development and Reform Commission of China, for giving me the opportunity to address this distinguished audience, on behalf of the Government of Belgium.

Almost two years ago, at the occasion of the First Belt and Road Forum, President XI Jinping already recognized the importance of green development in order for the Belt&Road Initiative to be truly sustainable and conducive to inclusive development and benefits for all.

Let me just briefly quote him : “We should pursue the new vision of green development and a way of life and work that is green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable. Efforts should be made to strengthen cooperation in ecological and environmental protection and build a sound ecosystem so as to realize the goals set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Belgium very much adheres to President XI Jinping’s concerns. It is important  to turn the Belt and Road Initiative into an open and inclusive cooperation mechanism which functions according to market principles and in respect for international norms and standards. All countries involved have to be able to collect the fruit of developed projects in a framework that encourages responsible economic governance by all.

Trade flows, including those along the Belt and Road, should comply with international environmental, fiscal and social norms that are imbedded in international rules and that are in line with our commitments for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

As former Minister for Development Cooperation and today Facilitator for the Congo Basin Forests Partnership, I would like to underline the importance of an environment-friendly and inclusive development path, in order to fulfill the commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Development.

Belgium therefore welcomes the growing and important role of China on environmental issues, natural resources and biodiversity, including through hosting a number of important meetings: this thematic panel, Green Silk Road, the  International Tropical Timber Technical Association next October or the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020.

Last month, UNEP published its 6th Global Environmental Outlook. Its message is clear: A healthy environment is the best foundation for economic prosperity, human health and well-being. Yet, our planet is increasingly polluted and affected by the adverse effects of climate change. Biodiversity is dramatically receding, environmental degradation becomes widespread.   Urgent action is needed and at an unprecedented scale, to address this situation.

For doing so, we have our compass :  the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Yet, more ambition is needed, and urgently, if we want to reverse the actual trend and address issues like land degradation, biodiversity loss, air pollution, climate change and resource efficiency.

The upcoming UN Climate Action Summit and SDG Summit next September will be instrumental in this regard. And we also expect the upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity that will take place here in China to play a similar role by agreeing on an ambitious and realistic post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Nationally, China has come a long way on tackling air pollution, devising new norms on environmental issues. The same determination is also needed on the international scene, in the BRI framework and elsewhere.

Incremental sector-specific policies alone will not suffice. Environmental considerations need to be mainstreamed into social and economic decisions at all levels in order to enable synergies and avoid potential trade-offs between development targets.

Take infrastructure, which is at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative, as an example. Infrastructure is linked to all  Sustainable Development Goals. It provides opportunities for employment creation, income generation and economic growth. Yet, if poorly conceived and executed, infrastructure projects  can all too easily yield negative impacts on the environment, on ecosystem integrity and quality, on human health and efforts to address consequences of climate change. Infrastructure development will only deliver optimal and lasting social, environmental, and economic outcomes if the need to mitigate its negative environmental impact is recognized as part and parcel of the decision-making throughout the whole infrastructure life cycle. This is what Greening the Belt and Road Initiative should be about: about promoting integrated approaches, promoting nature-based solutions, applying internationally accepted environmental and social safeguards, standards and assessment methods, about avoiding technological lock-ins or highly fossil-fuel intensive projects, about demonstrating sustainable business cases, …

Another example of the importance we attach to integrated approaches and mainstreaming may be found in our work in the Context of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, where Belgium has taken up the facilitatorship for the period 2018-2019.

This organization brings together 114 members, including the ten member States of the COMIFAC, the major Donors, representatives of the research Community, of the private sector, of international NGO’s and of the civil Society. Together they promote better governance of the Congo Basin Forests and the preservation of their biodiversity.

I hope that China will consider joining the CBFP in the near future.

The responsible management of natural resources and the sustainable protection of the environment and of biodiversity are one of the priorities of Belgium’s foreign policy in Africa. The preservation of endangered species and of forest resources is threatened by poaching and the corruption which facilitates it. By promoting illegal trade, corruption also weighs on the development of local communities. More broadly, it threatens governance and security in these regions by enabling the funding of criminal networks and armed groups. To prevent and fight wildlife and forest crime, sophisticated criminal networks need to be dismantled. Therefore, Belgium and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have recently signed a new funding agreement worth two million euros to for increased support to African countries, including the Central African region, with a focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Virunga Park), Uganda, Chad and Cameroon. This pledge reflects Belgium’s strong commitment to combatting illegal wildlife trafficking, which requires a global approach and international cooperation between source countries and importing countries.

I would like to conclude by underlining the important role China should play in the international efforts for a sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of biodiversity.  In Africa, and elsewhere along a Green Silk Road. »

Cliquez ici pour voir le reportage sur CGTN français.

En compagnie de Marc Vinck, ambassadeur de Belgique à Pékin.