On 2 February 2021, the SCO Secretariat hosted a joint seminar, "Exchange of experience in poverty reduction and combating COVID-19," organized with China's State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. The meeting was attended by representatives of the relevant authorities from the SCO member states, as well as officials responsible for the matter from Guizhou province, who reported on the progress achieved in addressing poverty and the lessons learned.
The purpose of the seminar was to give the SCO countries the opportunity to exchange their experience in improving people's welfare, overcoming poverty and combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the opening of the seminar, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov noted that the event was one of the first in the anniversary series planned for the 20th year of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
According to Vladimir Norov, on 15-17 December 2020, he visited the villages of Huamao and Shiban of Guizhou province together with the heads of diplomatic missions of the SCO and CIS countries. Guizhou used to be one of the poorest regions in China. The diplomats could clearly see the region's progress in fighting poverty.
Vladimir Norov said China has provided a model of unprecedented progress in fighting poverty, having achieved goal number one from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to eliminate poverty ten years ahead of plan. He also underscored that even during the coronavirus pandemic Beijing had demonstrated an impressive level of development of the digital economy, as well as the ability to eradicate poverty in rural areas, including through the wide involvement of farmers in cross-border e-commerce.
At the SCO summit on 10 November 2020, the leaders of the SCO member states noted the importance of strengthening cooperation in improving people's welfare and living standards as a priority task, and put forward a number of interesting proposals and initiatives. In particular, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan proposed creating a special working group on poverty alleviation, to develop a SCO strategy and action plan to mitigate the negative economic consequences of the pandemic, and setting up an SCO databank of best practices in combating COVID-19.
The Republic of Uzbekistan proposed creating a mechanism for meetings of the heads of ministries and departments responsible for combating poverty, developing a SCO cooperation programme on this track, and holding an international forum in Uzbekistan to develop and coordinate measures for its implementation.
Vladimir Norov added that these and other important and practice-oriented proposals from the SCO heads of state and government to intensify joint work to counter new challenges and threats to the health and well-being of their population were reflected in the documents adopted at the Russia-chaired SCO Heads of State Council meeting and the India-chaired SCO Heads of Government Council Meeting on 30 November 2020, as well as in the 2021 Plan of Main SCO Events prepared by the Republic of Tajikistan, which currently chairs the SCO.
The SCO Secretary-General expressed confidence that this seminar would make an important contribution to the development of a relevant document aimed at uniting member countries' potential in eradicating poverty in the SCO.
In her remarks, Director-General of the General Affairs Department for the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation Su Guoxia emphasised that the Chinese government was vigorously cooperating with relevant international organisations on poverty reduction. Today's meeting is the first time that the Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation, together with the SCO Secretariat, had invited representatives of member states to join with them online to share their experience of fighting poverty and work together to combat the coronavirus epidemic, she added.
"In pursuing a policy of reform and openness, we have gradually identified our poverty alleviation standards, the key areas of support. We have formulated our medium and long-term plans and continued to advance poverty reduction," the speaker underscored.
Su Guoxia noted that after eight years of continuous effort by the Chinese government, nearly 100 million rural people had been lifted out of poverty by the current government standards. This meant the problem of absolute poverty that had plagued the Chinese nation for millennia had been resolved, and the country had taken a solid step forward along the path towards a common prosperity for all people.
Deputy Director — Inspector of the Poverty Alleviation Office of Guizhou Province Huang Junming shared his experience in overcoming absolute poverty and realising the dream of inclusive prosperity. In particular, he noted that the government of Guizhou province had made its poverty reduction strategy a priority in the overall economic and social development plan, and had achieved good results on that track. Since 2012, the number of poor people has dropped by 9.23 million in Guizhou; 66 poor counties have been lifted out of poverty, and 1.92 million people have been relocated. This had completely eliminated the ‘absolute poverty' category.
After hearing reports from the Chinese side, other participants made presentations and delivered reports.