Geneva, 6 May 2019: At the invitation of the Chinese Government, Peter Bakker, WBCSD’s President and CEO, went on a three-day visit to Beijing from 24 to 26 April.
Peter attended the CEO Conference and the Green Silk Road Thematic Forum of the 2nd Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum on the first day and was invited to the Forum’s Opening Plenary and High-Level Meetings on the second day.
The Forum is held every two years and gathers heads of states, heads of UN entities and various international organizations as well as CEOs of some of the world’s leading businesses.
Recently, China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been the subject of much attention and discussion, especially around the sustainability of all the projects that the Initiative entails.
Together with Minister Li Ganjie of the Chinese Ministry of Ecology & Environment and other international organization leaders, Bakker joined the launch of the Coalition of Green Development on the Belt and Road and served as both a convener of the Coalition and a panelist of the Thematic Forum to advise on the sustainable development of Belt and Road.
During the CEO Conference, and in front of an audience of 3,000 people, Peter Bakker signed a strategic MoU of cooperation with Wang Yongqing, Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC). With this MoU, the two organizations have agreed to join efforts to help Chinese private companies build up their capacity for sustainability in both their domestic and international operations.
After the Conference, Bakker underscored: “It’s good to see that sustainability is now high on the agenda also in China. Sustainable development was mentioned in all the speeches by representatives from governments, businesses and international organizations. This is clear evidence that the global cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative is promoting sustainable economy.”
In addition, Bakker also held had multiple meetings with Chinese business leaders, including the top leadership of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). The latter is the Chinese government agency overseeing 100 or so largest Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and has provided valuable support to WBCSD in China. Bakker met with SASAC Vice Chairman Ren Hongbin on the last day of his trip. Mr Ren is the former Chairman of a large Chinese SOE Sinomach and a board member of the UN Global Compact. Mr. Ren extended an invitation to Peter to visit SASAC again and address a variety SOE leaders in mid-2019 when SASAC will host the launch of CSR/Sustainability reports by Chinese SOEs.
While in Beijing, Bakker also met COFCO, China's largest food and agriculture company, which joined WBCSD in the first quarter of this year. COFCO will provide strategic support to WBCSD for both the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP15 and WBCSD Council Meeting in October 2020. in turn, Bakker reached an agreement with COFCO Group President Patrick Yu that WBCSD will help review their sustainability initiatives and practices and integrate them into the overall company strategy.
State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) is another WBCSD member company whom Bakker visited during his trip. He met with SPIC Chairman Qian Zhiming, and discussed mutual strengthening of cooperation, especially in the light of the ongoing Low Emissions Economy Partnership (LEEP) project in Xiong’an and the upcoming WBCSD Council Meeting in Beijing in 2020.
President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative includes 71 countries that account for half the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP. This initiative will also require enormous infrastructure investments – and one of the major players in this field is China Communications Construction Corporation (CCCC), the world’s third largest and China’s biggest construction and engineering company. Bakker visited CCCC’s head office to meet the company’s Vice President and Chief Engineer Dr. Sun Ziyu. CCCC showed strong interest to know more about WBCSD and its programs and wished to continue the dialogue in view of a possible membership with the organization.
During the three-day visit, Peter also sat down for two face-to-face interviews with People Magazine (a part of People’s Daily)) and China Sustainability Tribune respectively, touching upon various global sustainability and leadership topics relevant to China. He was also officially interviewed by the People’s Daily on the Belt & Road Forum as a whole and the MOU signed with ACFIC.