China leads in global biodiversity governance

Concerted efforts needed for success of Montreal summit, following up on the Kunming plans

A flock of ducks search for food in Baiyangdian Lake in Xiong'an New Area, Hebei province, on Sept 25, 2022. (LIU XUN / FOR CHINA DAILY)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The second part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD is currently underway in Montreal, Canada — from Dec 7 to 19.

COP15, under the theme of “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”, is tasked with formulating and adopting the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, or GBF, which is of great significance to world biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Holding the COP15 presidency, China is responsible for the substantive and political affairs of the conference.

Biodiversity is critical to human health and well-being. Natural ecosystems absorb and store about one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions human activities release each year, more than two-fourths of the global GDP depends on natural resources, and over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. 

Biodiversity loss at an accelerated pace, which severely threatens human health and the sustainable development of economies and societies, is a critical issue that humanity must face and solve.

As an important participant, contributor and leader in the construction of a global ecological civilization, China has long been advancing global biodiversity governance with concrete actions.

With the guiding principle of Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, biodiversity conservation has been elevated to a national strategy in China. The nation has drawn up “redlines” for ecological conservation and stepped up efforts to optimize a system of protected areas with national parks as the mainstay.

China has effectively protected 90 percent of typical terrestrial ecosystem types and brought 74 percent of key State-protected wildlife species under effective protection. 

As one of the first countries to sign and ratify the CBD, China has over-fulfilled three of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets — an ambitious set of global biodiversity goals that were to be attained by 2020 — and is making solid progress on achieving another 13. 

Since 2019, China has become the largest contributor to the core budget of the CBD and its protocols. In recent years, it has become the largest developing donor country to the Global Environment Facility and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

In October 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping, eight other heads of state from parties to the CBD, and the secretary-general of the United Nations attended the Leaders’ Summit of the first part of the CBD COP15 held in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, via video link and delivered keynote speeches. 

President Xi announced China’s initiative to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan ($212.7 million) to support biodiversity protection in developing countries. Xi also announced China’s first batch of five national parks, among China’s biodiversity commitments as the host nation. 

At the high-level segment, the parties to the CBD adopted the Kunming Declaration. China, with the highest level of political will and leadership, has built consensus to the largest extent, laying a solid foundation for the adoption of the post-2020 GBF — an ambitious, balanced and practical global agreement to halt biodiversity loss and restore nature.

China has been vigorously advancing negotiations over the post-2020 GBF, convening a total of 37 COP15 Bureau Meetings and presided over four Working Group Meetings for the post-2020 GBF in collaboration with the CBD Secretariat. Since the conclusion of Part I of COP15, the nation has used various occasions as opportunities to coordinate and communicate with all relevant parties on advancing a successful second part of COP15.

We must firmly seize the important opportunity of COP15 to arrest and reverse biodiversity loss and make concerted efforts to promote the success of the second part of COP15.

The majority of the 196 parties to the CBD are developing nations. We should listen to their voices, uphold the principle that all parties are equal and practice true multilateralism.

When formulating the post-2020 GBF, we should uphold the principles of fairness and transparency, take into full consideration the accessibility and feasibility of targets, as well as the development disparity of all countries, demonstrate constructiveness and flexibility in negotiations over the framework, and balance the interests of all parties.

Developed countries should fulfill the obligations stipulated in the CBD and related protocols, and provide more support for developing countries with regard to funding, technology and capacity-building to make up for the gap in biodiversity governance capability among nations.

We advocate more scientific, comprehensive solutions in the design of the post-2020 GBF and its future implementation, so as to offer synergized solutions for such global problems as biodiversity loss, climate change and environmental pollution.

The structure and core content of the post-2020 GBF has been identified. However, due to different social and economic development levels of parties, as well as the difference in major challenges and implementation capacity in biodiversity governance, there are still some controversies on issues such as resource mobilization, access to and utilization of the digital sequence information of genetic resources, and benefit sharing. 

Therefore, we call on all parties, international organizations and stakeholders to show the utmost political resolve and sincerity, take their responsibilities seriously, and make concerted efforts to adopt an ambitious, balanced and practical GBF in Montreal, so as to lead global biodiversity toward restoration and jointly build a community with a shared future for all life on Earth.

The author is China’s minister of ecology and environment. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.