Thursday, June 02, 2022

UN Global Compact "China Strategy": Exceptionalism and Its Avoidance in Developing Engagement with Sustainable Development Goals



Engagement with China has come slowly.  From an almost uniform attitude that started from the presumption that China and Chinese approaches had to be corrected so that they might conform with those of the drivers of international institutional forces, it now appears that a more ambiguous engagement strategy is in the offing. Thus, the UN Global Compact has recently announced a China Strategy (May 2022).  The Global Compact thus suggests:

The UN Global Compact China Strategy aims to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of Chinese businesses by upholding the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. (Global Compact China Strategy).

 To that end the Global Compact has reshaped the matrix of  Chines engagement with the sustainability development goals:

China Strategy p. 5

This is worthwhile, of course.  But also sets a template that may be equally useful in bringing other states into the Sustainability Development Goals conversation outside of Europe.  I might encourage, for example, all developing states to develop their own Sustainable Development goals matrix and circulate them. Using a process of layering analytics, it might then be possible to better understand the forms and approaches to embracing the Sustainable Development goals on a country by country basis.

But of course, apex states are different.  And that is the great pity of the thing. So one is told:

Recognizing China’s long history, rich culture and social values, UN Global Compact China Strategy strives to factor in China’s uniqueness and local priorities while ensuring its alignment with our Ten Principles and global ambition. The process to develop the China strategy has involved interviews with more than 50 stakeholder groups both from China and globally. Building upon these rich inputs and existing operations of the UN Global Compact in China, the strategy re- designs the key focus areas and value propositions  for UN Global Compact to engage stakeholders more effectively to achieve our strategic aspirations. In order to enable meaningful impact by delivering values in selected key areas, the strategy includes five key enablers: membership strategy, stakeholder engagement, fundraising strategy, marketing and communications strategy, and organizational development. ( China Strategy p. 3; see also CGTN Reporting: "Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident Coordinator in China called for action and empathy, saying countries and organizations must consider China "unique context" when developing new strategies and partnerships towards the achievement of the SDGs in China. He also noted the necessity for more South-South cooperation and North-South knowledge sharing.").

And indeed, the China Strategy might be more usefully generalized and applied to all states, with the Global Compact and the UN instrumentalities in NY and Geneva serving as patient oversight and assessment bodies, with capacity building and coordinating capabilities.  But that is a story for another day. 

The text of the China Strategy follows below.  It may also be accessed in Chinese HERE



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