Xu Haoliang, assistant secretary general of the United Nations and director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific at the United Nations Development Programme.
The Belt and Road Initiative promotes the opposite of inward-looking mentality and "could indeed shape the 21st century international cooperation model", a senior United Nations official has told China Daily. [Special coverage]
"The Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote shared prosperity based on voluntary participation and mutual benefits," United Nations assistant secretary general Xu Haoliang said.
Xu, who is also director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, said the initiative's effects "could be transformational, particularly if it promotes economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Commenting on the role of the United Nations Development Program, Xu noted that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with China on the Belt and Road Initiative in September last year.
"UNDP's role will be to help engage the B&R Initiative stakeholders in promoting poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and inclusive social development," he said.
"We are already providing support in policy formulation and coordination, capacity building, and piloting projects. With operations in 170 countries and territories, and with 50 years of experience in global development, UNDP is innovating and strives to be a sustainable development advisor to the Belt and Road Initiative," he added.
Recently, the UNDP launched the 2017 Report on the Sustainable Development of Chinese Enterprises Overseas after surveying 550 Chinese enterprises and stakeholders.
The findings show that Chinese enterprises provide significant economic and social benefits to countries along the routes.
"We found, for example, that Chinese companies were employing more than 1.2 million local staff in 2015, which is a 30 percent increase from 2014. However, there are still improvements to be made by Chinese enterprises in environmental protection, gender equality, and communication with stakeholders," he said.
Asked about the UNDP's advice for businesses operating overseas, Xu said: "Our recommendation is to align Belt and Road investment planning and project implementation, including at the enterprise level, with the participating countries' development aspersions and the Sustainable Development Goals framework."
"This will allow Belt and Road investments to achieve the overarching objectives of win-win cooperation and sustainable development – through increased policy coordination, connectivity, investment, trade and people-to-people exchange," he said.