On July 10, as Chair of the Sustainable Development Working Group of APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Mr. Frank Ning, Chairman of Sinochem Group, attended the ABAC Chair Video Conference in Beijing. At the conference, he elaborated on the work plan and priorities of ABAC Sustainable Development Working Group under the COVID-19 pandemic and gave advice on ABAC’s letters and reports to APEC economic leaders, APEC’s “Post-2020 Vision” and so on. ABAC Chair and co-chairs, and chairs of all working groups attended the conference.
Chairman Frank Ning pointed out that ensuring energy security and food safety and addressing climate change are critical to the production and livelihood of people in the Asia-Pacific region, whose importance was fully reflected in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are key to inclusive growth and sustainable development in the post-pandemic era. Therefore, the ABAC Sustainable Development Working Group will continue to carry out the work focusing on “Ensuring Energy Security and Promoting Sustainable Development”, “Addressing Climate Change and Popularizing Circular Economy” and “Safeguarding Food Safety and Developing Smart Agriculture” under the new situation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of ensuring energy security and promoting sustainable development, Chairman Frank Ning said that sharp price fluctuations in the energy market, especially in crude oil, over the past few months led to a slump in demand and affected both supply chain and energy reserves, reducing investment in new energy and consumption, with its market share being squeezed by traditional energy, so we must support new energy-related investment and R&D, improve energy efficiency in energy-intensive areas and encourage the low-carbon use of high-carbon energy through technical means and policy guidance.
In terms of addressing climate change and popularizing circular economy, Chairman Frank Ning believed that COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are both global public crises and thus similar in many aspects. Putting a new premium on and learning from the experience and lessons of COVID-19 pandemic will offer strong guidance and reference for better coping with climate change in the future. The world has become an interconnected ecosystem that requires joint responses to external shocks. Hence, we will focus on and promote the formulation of policies to address climate change according to local conditions, especially, we will actively implement the carbon pricing mechanism after taking into account local circumstances such as the technical level. We should also strongly support the promotion of circular economy through standardized construction, technological research and development and capital investment as well as share best practices of circular economy in key areas.
In terms of safeguarding agricultural security and developing smart agriculture, Chairman Frank Ning noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the uncertainty of food security, especially in areas where supply chains were inelastic and unable to respond to the crisis in a timely manner, agricultural production and distribution were significantly affected, making access to basic foodstuffs difficult. We are fully aware of the huge potential of digitalization to stabilize agricultural production, strengthen disaster response capability, better integrate farmers into the value chain and increase their incomes, etc. Therefore, we should support the trade flows and market opening of grain and food and accelerate quick and flexible measures such as expedited customs procedures and unified product certification, which will help to ensure the cross-border flows of food as a basic necessity. We should also encourage the use of digital means to keep abreast of real-time changes in agricultural value chains, build agricultural monitoring systems and large databases, and support the construction of smart agriculture-related infrastructure, technological research and development and integration of online and offline channels.
Lastly, Chairman Frank Ning stressed that the globalization process over the past few decades has brought prosperity to the global economy and eliminated a large amount of poverty and inequality, providing a good guiding value for us to better respond to the crisis and recover the economy today. COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and threats to the basic production and life of mankind. In this special period, the business community should give greater support to globalization, multilateral trade and investment system, and openness and free trade.