United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can be a "very important instrument" to meet the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
"So I'm expecting to participate in the discussion to see how we can extract the maximum possible value of the Belt and Road Initiative for global inclusive and sustainable development," Guterres said in an interview with Chinese media at UN headquarters in New York.
Guterres, who will attend the Belt and Road Forum of International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 and May 15, said it is an excellent opportunity to see all the important infrastructure projects that the initiative is developing in different parts of the world.
"Multilateralism is the solution to global problems. And China has been a strong pillar of multilateralism," he said. "When we look at BRI, we see a very important contribution to this solidarity in addressing global problems with international cooperation, where China plays a very central role. So I'm very happy to have the chance to participate in this Belt and Road summit."
At least 28 heads of state and government will attend the forum, which will be the highest-level international meeting since the open and inclusive initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. The proposal aims to build an infrastructure network and cooperation along ancient Silk Road routes, linking Asia to Africa and Europe.
More than 100 countries and international organizations have joined the initiative, and more than 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China, which has invested more than $50 billion in related programs.
The secretary-general believes the initiative and Agenda 2030 move "in the same direction".
The investments that are made, especially in the infrastructure, to facilitate the contact of people, trade and development are important part of Agenda 2030, he said, and they relate to several objectives of sustainable development.
"It's important to do it in the best possible way, in a way that fully fits the development strategy of different countries, to allow countries to use them in the positive way in their own strategies … to allow for good governance, for good practices, for good concessional financing opportunities" he said. "There are many ways to contribute to make it a success. And I'm interested in participating in this discussion."
Describing BRI as "a new vision" that China has brought to global development, Guterres said discussions like the BRI are "extremely useful" at a time when there is doubt about globalization and free trade.
"We need an initiative of international solidarity to make people believe there's better globalization, to make people believe there's free trade that can benefit people overall, to make people believe that it's possible to not leave anyone behind, and so discussions like the BRI are extremely useful," he said.
This will be the secretary-general's second visit to China. President Xi met him as secretary-general-designate on Nov 28, 2016.
Guterres said his message to China will be a simple one.
"It's a simple message to say how much we cherish Chinese engagement in multilateralism … the cooperation in finding global solutions to global problems, the leadership, for instance, in climate change response, how much we count on Chinese engagement in those objectives," he said.