HOME > News Center > News

The speech of Mr. Erik Solheim, executive director of UNEP, at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation


Dear friends,

At the time of the Yuan dynasty in China, when Emperor Kublai Khan took the reins in the capital Beijing, Marco Polo came to China from the Europe. Europe was so poor and China was so friendly that when Marco Polo came back to Europe, no one believed the stories he told because they never heard such a rich and prosperous place. They believe he boasted too much of the fact so they called him “il millione”, because he was exaggerating the fact by a million times.

Throughout most of human history, China is by far the most advanced nation on the planet.  There was a time in human history that China and India combined represent 80% of the global economy. Europeans later came back to China. As European ships trading on the African coast, they also explored the routes to China and India, and those who were here didn’t even want to come back to Europe.  I’ m absolute confident that we should embrace President Xi ‘s vision of global shared prosperity. Isolation impedes the development. Combination and cooperation together lead to the success and that is the vision of belt and road. And President Xi embraces that vision. How refreshing!  At the time of so much national patriotism, it is important to listen to the world’s needs and encourage the global cooperation for the development of trades in good, global prosperity, and of course, global peace. 

President Xi also proposed the establishment of a global coalition for green development on the Belt and Road. That’s what I want to share with you. UN Environment joined hands with Ministry of Environmental Protection of China to form the International coalition for greening the belt and road. We want all of you to participate. It’s not only about the government of China, but all governments along the road. Governments of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia or Egypt etc, all are welcome.  Businesses, other UN entities, civil societies, every group may contribute to this.  You are most welcome to join the global coalition for a green belt and road. 

And it also has an actual meaning in practical terms. 

Green belt and road means green energy. Coal is not anymore cheaper than wind and solar. There is no excuse to go for coal. China and many countries have brought down the price of new energy so they are more competitive around the world. So let’s make the belt and road green.

Green belt and road means green transport.  Again China is the leading nation on the electric vehicles and electric buses. Lets’ make the green transport part of the belt and road.

It’s about green finance. China put the green finance center stage as the G20 presidency. Let’s not sleep on that. Let’s continue to green the banks, insurance companies, stock exchanges, and all the critical players of the global finance, including the financial entities such as AIIB and other Development Banks, which play the key role in setting the map.

It’s about green compassion for the nature. When you make new railroads and new roads, indeed you build these railroads in nature, that’s obvious. But you can hold the compassion for nature and do other passes or bypasses, so the elephant, tigers or lions, and all species can pass the railroad and road in a safe way. 

And finally it’s all about green ideas, not just about green infrastructures, green transport and green energy, but also exchanges of green ideas.  China can learn from United States, US can learn from Africa. We can all learn from each other. And that’s the states also from the President Xi.

Finally, a green belt and road means abolishing the very old fashion idea that you have to make a choice, either you develop and go prosperous or you protect the nature. That may have been the case at the early phase of capitalism, we can’t deny that, but not anymore. We know we can be very prosperous and go fast ahead and protect the nature at the same time. And if you ask for a good example, let me propose Germany as maybe the most prosperous nation on the planet, in the meantime has most clean and beautiful environment. They prove that two parts can move at the same time.

If you want a slogan for the green belt and road. Let me suggest President Xi Jinping’s own word “blue rivers and green forests are the new gold.” 

Xie Xie! Thank you! 


All right reserved:Secretariat of China for International Cooperation on Environment and Development

Address:5 Houyingfang Hutong,Xicheng District,Beijing 100035 P.R.China    zip code:100035