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Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech via video link at the leaders' summit of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) held in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Oct. 12, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

Fifth Estate

China takes leadership in conserving world’s biodiversity

The first round of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) is underway in the southwestern city of Kunming in Yunnan province. Themed “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth,” this October 11 to 15 international forum aims to review the “post-2020 global biodiversity framework” and draw a blueprint for biodiversity conservation.

The framework is a follow up Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 that calls for an all-encompassing strategy for the creation of synergy and harmony between man and nature. Analysts are of the view that half the meeting’s work seems to have been done already, with the forum expected to gain tremendously from China’s white paper on its biodiversity conservation launched on October 8.

The white paper offers the world a framework of avoiding further deterioration of the environment by enhancing biosecurity. Among other measures, it recommends the enhancement and increase of protected areas, national parks and other habitats for wildlife, the collection and preservation of rare and valuable biological germplasm resources, establishment of off-site protection systems, ecological protection and restoration projects.

Currently, there is an acceleration of the global extinction of species. The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of the ecosystem pose a major risk to human survival and development. COVID-19 reminds us of the interdependence between man and nature. It behooves everyone to act together so that we can turn the earth into a beautiful homeland for all creatures.

China’s land and sea territories are both vast; its complex terrain and diverse climate gave birth to unique ecosystems, abundant species, and rich genetic variety. As one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, China has a profound understanding of biodiversity, as manifest in traditional Chinese culture and these aphorisms: “Man is an integral part of nature”; “Dao follows the laws of nature”; and “All beings are equal”.

In his speech delivered virtually on Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping spelt out the country’s promise and guidelines in ensuring sustainable development for mankind. These include:

  • Taking the development of ecological civilization as our guide to coordinate the relationship between man and nature.
  • Letting green transition drive our efforts to facilitate global sustainable development.
  • Concentrate on bettering people’s well-being to promote social equity and justice.
  • Take international law as the basis to uphold a fair and equitable international governance system.

The above was endorsed by the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Achim Steiner, who applauded China’s efforts to protect its biodiversity. Speaking virtually to Xinhua, Steiner noted that having realised the loss of its ecological infrastructure over the last three to four decades, China has taken many “corrective” measures to restore its ecosystems through “different investment approaches” and policies to reduce the destruction and finally restore ecosystem health.

But this feat could not be achieved without public education and the willing participation of the Chinese people, a fact that Steiner noted, saying the most important aspect of China’s ecological protection is that “people have developed an awareness of how important nature is.”

To put money where his mouth is, Xi pledged 1.5 billion RMB yuan (US$ 232 million) seed money for the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries. China is ready to share its experience in advancing ecological civilization with all parties and step up cooperation on biodiversity in order to move the world toward the 2050 Vision of “Living in harmony with nature”.

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China attaches great importance to biodiversity, adheres to the philosophy of ecological civilization, and has been working continuously to expedite the mainstreaming of biodiversity across all departments and sectors, promote effective restoration and protection of ecosystems through the implementation of ecological conservation projects and other measures, improve public participation, and boost international cooperation and exchanges on biodiversity.

In the words of Xi, if humanity does not fail nature, nature will not fail us. Ecological civilization represents the development trend of human civilization. We should, therefore, unite and follow the philosophy of ecological civilization and shoulder our responsibility for progeny. Let us make joint efforts to build a community of all life on earth, and a clean and beautiful world for us all.

The writer is the Executive Director of South-South Dialogues, a Nairobi based research and development communication think tank.

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