by Xinhua Writer Wang Jiangang
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- A high-ranking UN official Thursday spoke highly of the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, hailing it as an "enabler and catalyst" for achieving sustainable development goals.
Lenni Montiel, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, told Xinhua in an interview that the Initiative, launched by China in 2013, was in accordance with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the most ambitious and transformative one by far.
The B&R Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road project, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
The Initiative, which covers about 60 percent of the world's population and connects countries representing 30 percent of global GDP, will strongly "complement various sustainable development efforts at national and regional levels in Asia, Africa and Europe," Montiel said.
"The expected boost in investment and growth will contribute to creating millions of decent jobs and lifting many more millions out of poverty," he added.
Montiel, who once served as a senior UN official in Vietnam and Ukraine, spoke highly of the timing that the Initiative was proposed, when the world economy was still reeling from a big recession and investment, particularly those in developing countries, remained pitifully inadequate.
"The Initiative is likely to mitigate persistent savings-investment gaps in many of these countries and enable them to restart their growth engines," he said.
Montiel also pointed out that the Initiative holds "significant promises for reviving global growth," which still remains anaemic almost a decade after the recession.
Applauding the Initiative as China's commitment to global sustainable development, Montiel said it "is a developing country's initiative for developing countries."
It will help strengthen South-South Cooperation, an imperative for realizing the 2030 Agenda, Montiel said.
To date, more than 100 countries and international organizations have joined the B&R Initiative.
Noting that the success of the B&R Initiative will depend on the commitment from the participating countries, Montiel said that the Initiative should not be seen as China shouldering all the responsibility of financing. "It is rather an Initiative where all countries participate on the basis of mutual respect and shared responsibility," he said.
"As such, the B&R Initiative should foster investment, trade or people-to-people flows not just between China and a participating country but also between and among various participating countries," he added.
Further dialogue among participating countries is needed to fully understand the opportunities and the spillover effects of the Initiative, the assistant Secretary-General noted.
"This will be important for a smooth implementation of the B&R Initiative," he said.
Montiel also mentioned that the UN can act as a bridge between the B&R and other sustainable development efforts to maximize synergies and reduce any misuse of financial resources.
"China may proactively engage with the UN development system entities to also facilitate dialogues between and among the B&R countries," he said, adding that there is a need for periodically assessing and evaluating both the potential and progress of the Initiative.
Montiel disclosed that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs has already undertaken a study to identify the potential macroeconomic impact of the B&R initiative in six countries in Central Asia.
"I am sure other UN entities will also come forward and extend similar technical assistance and analytical support to realize the ambitions of the B&R Initiative and foster sustainable development for nearly two-thirds of the humanity," Montiel said.