Building consensus and connectivity for a shared future
Updated 16:27, 20-Aug-2023
Liu Meng

Editor's note: Building a better future for all is a seemingly grand topic, while it actually concerns people's daily life. With common challenges and aspirations, how do we make cohesion despite the differences? How to increase mutual understanding and trust? In China Talk, Liu Meng, head of the UN Global Compact China Office, shares with you her experiences and insights. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hello and welcome to China Talk. My name is Liu Meng, and I describe myself as a globalist in the 21st century. I have spent nearly 17 years of my life working in the international organization, and currently lead the United Nations Global Compact Office here in Beijing.

The UN Global Compact Beijing Office is a critical part of the United Nations family. Working for one of the most inclusive and diverse organizations in the world, I have the privilege to interact with colleagues from over 100 countries, and what has struck me most is not our differences, but rather our similarities.

As the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "Today more than ever, in our divided world, building bridges is the only option." What are some of the bridge building efforts from China? At this year's UN Country Team retreat, we talked about the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative, and their huge potential to advance the 2030 Agenda.

These concepts might sound grand for you, but it could be very detailed in relation to our daily life. Taking connectivity for example. We are happy to see UN Women and a Chinese company jointly launched a five-year program to support women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and empower them to participate and thrive in the digital economy. There are many examples as such happening in China today.

What does this shared future look like for you? The UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or the SDGs, provide a blueprint for 2030, a blueprint for people, the planet and prosperity. Our aspiration is to leave no one behind. No one.

Here I also want to share with you another endeavor we are working on. Beyond safety, we strive to have sanitation and toilets that are green and sustainable. A pilot project in partnership with the private sector, entitled "Sustainable Infrastructure for the Belt and Road Initiative to Accelerate the SDGs" has convened experts from academia, businessmen and rural villagers to come up with real solutions.

Thanks to the support by the United Nations Peace and Development Fund, we are in discussion with a number of countries and development partners to explore how this can join forces to assist more communities in need of the basic sanitation infrastructure, and co-develop and innovate together their own Eco Loo Box to achieve the SDGs. As you can see, the success of the project relies on multi-stakeholder collaboration. To achieve our final goal, building consensus is the compulsory first step.

Let me show you another example. A Chinese friend once shared with me the philosophy behind the chopsticks. He told me: "We lead our lives like what we do to have a meal. When we have a meal, we strive to facilitate two conflicting sticks and make sure they work together to finish our meal. In our daily lives, we strive to develop cohesion between two different ideas." Seeking consensus every day despite differences is in Chinese people's DNA.

On my first day working at the United Nations, my boss, a German philosopher told me, "The enemy is us. Change is within us. All human beings have an enormous potential to do enormous good." Regardless of nationality, culture, religion, language or skin color. This concept resonates with what Chinese culture cherishes most. In "The Book of Rites," written about 2,500 years ago, it is stressed that "the whole world is one family," emphasizing moral inclusiveness and social equality. Today, if you observe China's development strategies, you will find the concepts of openness, collaboration and shared development at the center.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Let's try our best to understand each other. Let's try our best to restore trust. Let's try our best to build partnerships. Let's try our best to achieve our common agenda of sustainable development to benefit all, because the whole world is one family.

Thank you!


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