Off the wire
Xinhua China news advisory -- June 3  • Garden festival kicks off in Ireland, attracts residents, visitors  • Venezuela sends aid to Cuba after tropical storm Alberto  • Venezuela prepares list of political opponents to be freed from jail  • JSE edges weaker as firmer South African rand pulls down mines  • JSE closes lower as U.S. dollar continues to gain  • JSE closes higher buoyed by banks and general retailers  • Microsoft eyes establishing software start-up in Turkey  • Chinese mainland claims 6 of world's top 100 universities in latest THE rankings  • U.S.-EU trade war could "devastate" Irish whiskey industry: IWA  
You are here:   Top News/

Full text of Nicholas Rosellini’s speech at the 12th China - ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction,July 03, 2018 Adjust font size:

The 12th China - ASEAN Forum on Social Development and Poverty Reduction, held on June 27th-29th in Manila, Philippines, aims to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation by discussing issues like rural rejuvenation, rural-urban poverty linkages and trade liberalization. The theme of this year's event is “Enhancing Poverty Reduction Partnerships for an ASEAN-China Community with a Shared Future”. 

Nicholas Rosellini, UN China Resident Coordinator & UNDP China Resident Representative made a speech at the forum. The full text of the speech is as follows:

-Distinguished guests,

-Ladies and gentlemen,


Good morning,


I am honoured to join the discussion today on rural rejuvenation and poverty reduction. In recent decades we have made remarkable progress in this area. The world attained the first Millennium Development Goal target —to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—five years ahead of schedule, in 2010. In absolute terms, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell by more than 1.1 billion, between 1990 and 2010. Poverty reduction in countries in Asia, and, in particular China, contributed significantly to this global success.


However, despite the progress, the number of people living in extreme poverty globally remains unacceptably high. According to the most recent estimates, in 2013, the number was 767 million people. For our purposes at this Forum we should note that according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, the FAO, approximately 75% of these remaining extreme poor live in rural areas.


To address the remaining poverty challenges, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015. This Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. In contrast to its predecessor “The Millennium Development Goals”, it has a much more ambitious poverty goal. It sets out to not only half, but fully eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and to do this in a sustainable manner.


As with any significant effort, the last steps towards eradicating rural poverty will be the most difficult. Poverty reduction in the Agenda 2030 era willrequire different approaches and strategies than those used in the era of the Millennium Development Goals. There are several reasons for this. Let me mention a few.


First, the easy gains in rural poverty reduction have already been made. The remaining pockets of poverty often reflect particularly difficult geographic, social or cultural obstacles that require focused efforts to overcome. They often face a range of interconnected and multidimensional poverty challenges. To lift these people out of poverty, more comprehensive poverty reduction responses than those of the past are needed.


Second, these remaining rural poor are generally still dependent on agricultural production for their livelihoods, but often face harsh ecological constraints; water shortage, desertification, pastureland degradation, and similar.

Third, development is not linear and people need to become better equipped to manage risks. Agriculture is a particularly risky economic activity, particularly for poor households operating at a subsistence level.  Climate change is one reason why the risk of natural disasters is increasing. When shocks occur, such as droughts, or family illness or death, the negative impact on the whole household, especially children, can be enormous.  


Fortunately, the global experience accumulated during the MDG and SDG efforts to tackle rural poverty offers many innovative approaches to addressing these challenges.


Today I’d like to highlight a few examples of such innovations, from China, where I work, and from around the globe. My examples relate to four areas that I consider key for successful rural rejuvenation in the era of the 2030 Agenda:


1.Integrating environmental sustainability into rural development

2.E-agriculture and the use of ICT to improve the livelihoods of poor and remote rural households

3.Combining of cultural preservation with rural livelihoods generation

4.Creation of effective national social protection systems and the extension of their coverage to rural poor and vulnerable populations


Integrating environmental sustainability into rural development

One of the most important global focuses of UN assistance in rural development is the introduction of green, sustainable approaches to resource management and agricultural development in poor rural areas.

Sometimes environmental considerations are viewed as an obstacle to improving rural livelihoods. But the fact of the matter is that, unless there is an environmentally sustainable foundation for the growth of livelihoods, the ones who will suffer most from the negative consequences of resource depletion and environmental degradation are the rural poor themselves.


One practical example of a sustainable approach to rural development from the UN family is the rural agricultural development project in Gansu, China, supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The actions under this programme covered strategies from improving farmland, rural financial services to social development opportunities. Biogas technology was introduced, small loans were offered, and health and education for men, women and children were provided.


Five years after the launch of the project, chronic hunger that used to last for four months every year, had been eliminated. Community health conditions were greatly improved, and the rate of chronic child malnutrition and neonatal mortality ratio decreased. More than 170,000 farmers increased their household assets. At the same time, 6,000 hectares of land was saved from soil depletion.


This example shows that green agricultural practices can indeed help alleviate environmental degradation and poverty and achieve a win-win situation for both environment and economy.


E-agriculture and the use of ICT to improve the livelihoods of poor and remote rural households

In virtually all business sectors, where ICT has been adopted, it has played a key role in growth and development. The benefits can also be seen in improving agricultural livelihoods and increasingly in some of the most remote poor rural areas. Agriculture has become increasingly knowledge intensive. Most farmers now face a rapidly changing economic and technological environment, which presents them with many difficult challenges. They need access to the right information in a timely manner, to make decisions that affect their livelihoods. They require information on input and output markets and on how to extend their value chains and manage their risk.


Many ICT interventions have been developed and tested around the world, to help farmers improve their livelihoods through risk reduction, and increased agricultural productivity and incomes.


One example is a Fish Marketing Information System project using frontline SMS technology, which the FAO, has implemented in Bandeh Aceh, Indonesia. The project developed a complex information system that sent out real-time updates with fish product information to all players involved in the value chain, including fishers, farmers, traders, processors and government agencies. The information system facilitated trade and connected the fishers to markets in a transparent manner, which helped contribute to a fairer fish trade.


Combining of cultural preservation with rural livelihoods generation

In Asia today, many poor rural areas have rich local cultural resources. The challenge of tapping the economic potential of cultural heritage in poor areas while still preserving that heritage requires considerable care. Investing in the conservation of cultural assets, and promoting cultural activities and skills developed by communities over very long periods of adaptation to the environment, moreover, are also very effective means to strengthen environmental sustainability and the social capital of communities.


Combining of cultural preservation with rural livelihoods generation can take forms of many. In China, UNDP has been working with ethnic minority groups to help them establish and develop their handicraft associations. This enable them to improve their skills in business management and practices, at the same time raise public awareness of the minority’s culture and tradition.

It can also take form in cultural tourism, which has shown great impact on providing opportunities and increasing income in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam. Take Malaysia’s Orang Asli as an instance. With the government’s assistance on building a vocational education tourist project in Selangor. The share of Orang Asli living in poverty fell from 83.4% in 2000 to 31.16% in 2011. However, pro-poor tourism can be a fine line to walk and it is critical that the revenues generated are re-invested in the communities, and that the rush to increase incomes as quickly as possible does not lead to destruction of cultural or natural heritage.


Provision of effective social protection to poor and vulnerable rural populations

Recent decades have seen a tremendous amount of global innovation in social protection, with, for example, a wide range of new programmes of both conditional and unconditional transfers to poor households. Extension of the coverage of these programmes to rural households has had a clear positive impact on their ability to access public services and build their human capital.

One recent innovation that I’d like to highlight is the “Cash Plus” or “Graduation” programmes that offer a promising new approach to reducing rural vulnerability.


The typical Cash Plus programme contains two key components. First, in addition to cash assistance, poor households receive assets, such as livestock, equipment, the opening of bank accounts, grants or loans to start businesses, along with intense training on the proper use of all of these. Secondly, the assistance is of limited duration, frequently two years, after which the households must be self-supporting. These programmes have proven so successful in achieving sustained improvements in lives of the poor for many years after assistance ends that they are being introduced more widely by many governments, often with the support of development organizations. Vulnerability is greatly reduced by lifting these households out of subsistence agriculture into larger and more commercial operations.


To summarize, I would like to reiterate that theseexamples demonstrate that rural development approaches can successfully adapted to the poverty and sustainability challenges we are faced with in the era of the 2030 Agenda. However, we need to continue to find new and better responses that allows us to walk the last mile of poverty eradication.   


The last point I would like to make before ending, is to underline to importance of inclusive poverty reduction. Past experience has showed us that GDP growth does not always translate into income growth for people. As important as the rate of economic growth, is the way in which benefits of growth are shared across the society. Growth must occur on the bottom end of the income distribution to lift the remining poor out of poverty. Investing in rural rejuvenation is a good strategy to do ensure just that.  


Let us all work together, and leave no one behind. Thank you.

Bookmark and Share