Making APEC Blue Go Global

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This month, I had my first visitor to Beijing. My mother-in-law joined me for ten days. Luckily enough, we get on very well, so we had a great time. I prepared a packed itinerary covering her two weekends here, and she was very independent, so she was able to see the best the city has to offer. And she was gracious enough to show an interest in what I am doing in China so joined me for a few events that the UN and others in the diplomatic community were hosting.

Though she was quite an important visitor for me, it was impossible to miss that Beijing was also hosting some other important visitors – the Leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC). I say impossible because Beijing made some serious efforts to prepare for their arrival. “APEC Blue”  was what all Beijingers were calling the beautiful skies we saw last week, thanks to temporary regulations that cut traffic and shut down factories nearby and closed schools and government offices, combined with the general fact that Beijing winters are fairly dry. The vendor I often get my fruit from on the street on the way home from work was gone for the week, and bikesheds by the subway were given pretty covers with slogans of “Cooperation, Win-Win, Development and Prosperity”.

apec blue.jpg

But while my mother-in-law was visiting for a bit of fun, the APEC Leaders were here for much more serious business. My mother-in-law left Beijing feeling enriched by her new experiences, the APEC leaders left having made new deals that will affect the people in their economies for years to come, such as a new plan for Silk Road infrastructure development.

Moreover, they also struck deals that will affect other economies. Notably, the US and China made a deal on climate change, and the US and India prepared a deal on trade that they cinched a day later at the G20 meeting in Australia. While there are varying interpretations of exactly how progressive these deals are (e.g. see this positive view and this more pessimistic view on the climate deal), there is consensus in the international community that climate and trade, for example, are hugely important challenges that not only affect APEC countries but also poorer developing countries all over the world. And the APEC visit helped make progress on them.

This kind of action, of using visits of world leaders to make deals and deliver outcomes that not only help China domestically, but actively help other countries is something UNDP China welcomes and works towards. During the APEC visit, I was invited to take part in the opening of a new forum comprised of economic think-tanks from Brazil,Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). At that meeting, I made a call for these think-tanks to not only study the economics of their own regions, but to study how the BRICS, through their meetings and burgeoning institutions like the New Development Bank, can support other poorer countries to rise to the fore as well.

The next two years will see even more meetings of global leaders, including many more visits to China, particularly since it has just been confirmed that China will host the G20 Presidency in 2016. I – and my colleagues in UNDP China – will be doing our best to help these leaders not only make “APEC Blue” once again, but “Global Blue” too.

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EDMOND BOSILONG

Research Analyst

Edmond is a research analyst who is passionate about sustainable development, innovation, and the environment. Passionate about climate financing, he firmly believe there is a more reliable system to promote equality, growth, and welfare in societies without affecting the ecosystem. Through his skills, knowledge and experienced gained over 7 years, he wants to make an impact in the world of development. Edmond holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Korea Development Institute and a BA Degree (Honors) in Business from University of Derby.

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Hannah Ryder is the Founder & CEO of Development Reimagined. A former diplomat and economist with 20 years of experience, named one of 100 most influential Africans in 2021, she is also Senior Associate for the Africa Program of the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), sits on the Board of the Environmental Defence Fund, and is a member of UAE's International Advisory Council on the New Economy. Prior to her role at DR, Ms Ryder led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. She has also played various advisory roles for the UN and OECD and co-authored the seminal Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change in 2006.

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Leah Lynch is Deputy Director of Development Reimagined (DR), and head of the China office. Leah has over 10 years of experience in development and has lived in China for over 8 years. Leah has also travelled extensively around Asia and Africa for research. Leah supports the strategic direction of the team across China, with a mission to deliver high quality research on sustainable development and poverty reduction. Leah is also Chair of the Sustainability Forum at the British Chamber of Commerce in China, providing direction on sustainability initiatives for British and Chinese business. Leah has also consulted on various evaluations on UK aid (ICAI) and is a specialist on development cooperation from the UK and China. Leah has also consulted on various UN projects, including providing support to the UN China team during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Prior to DR, Leah was at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China, supporting the UN’s portfolio on communication strategies, China’s South- South Cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Before UNDP, Leah lived and worked in Kenya developing sustainable water policies for the Kenyan government.

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Project Manager and Africa-China Communication Assistant

Jade is a Project Manager for Development Reimagined’s flagship project Africa Unconstrained, which focuses on financing needs and debt vulnerabilities of African countries. Her research focuses on China-Africa development finance alongside debt vulnerabilities, infrastructure needs and South-South cooperation. She has worked with a breadth of stakeholders from China, Africa and the wider international community, including governments, private sector, NGOs and civil society. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including The Africa Report, The China-Africa Project, The Diplomat and more. Jade holds a Master’s in China and Globalisation studies from King’s College London.

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