Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director High-Level Symposium: Belt & Road Initiative and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

As prepared for delivery 06-13-2018

13 June 2018

Excellencies, ambassadors, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is also a vision for children.

That is because China’s dramatic progress over the last two decades has also benefitted children: the children who are among the 800 million people lifted out of poverty since 1978, and the children who have gained health, nutrition, education and protection in hard-to-reach and remote communities across China.

For 40 years, UNICEF has been a proud part of China’s story. Together, we have delivered health, education, water and nutrition to vulnerable children. We have supported the government’s 2008 Sichuan earthquake response. And we have joined forces to support the poorest and most disadvantaged children in China and around the world.

Today, you can find example after example of our work together reflected in the faces of the children in Africa and Asia, who are now getting the health care and nutrition they need. Or in the faces of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon who are gaining an education.

But we also believe there is so much more we can do together.

UNICEF can help China scale-up more results quickly, and accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our organization can be a critical partner for China as it extends its Belt and Road Initiative. We offer a presence in 190 countries, deep field experience, strong partnerships with governments and other UN agencies, and expertise in supporting children across both decades of childhood.  

Children’s education, cognitive capital, health, protection and safety matter to all of us. We must work together to give a new generation the skills they need to build better futures for themselves — and their societies.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an opportunity to do this like never before and multiply our impact in a number of areas — child survival, nutrition, development and protection, with a special emphasis on fighting child poverty.

We invite China to tap into UNICEF’s expertise in programme design and delivery — and our systems for programme and financial monitoring and oversight.

The Belt and Road initiative is also an opportunity to dramatically expand south-south co-operation — for countries to learn from one another, scale-up what works, and ultimately achieve more impact, and more results, around the world.

The Belt and Road is about investing in more than infrastructure. It is about investing in the people that infrastructure will serve, today and tomorrow.

As I said at the outset, the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is also a vision for children. Let us join forces to make this vision a reality.



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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.

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