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Chinese President extols China’s role in preserving world’s biodiversity

By Stephen Ndegwa | Oct 6th 2020 | 4 min read
Chinese City of Kunming

As part of celebrations marking the United Nations 75th anniversary, the United Nations last month convened a virtual summit on biodiversity. The event was an opportunity to discuss major issues on biodiversity protection and sustainable development.  

China will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in the city of Kunming. COP15 offers an opportunity for the parties to adopt new strategies for global biodiversity governance.

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 behoves everyone to act together so that we can turn the earth into a beautiful homeland for all creatures.

Speaking during the virtual conference, President Xi Jinping offered a few suggestions on how this can be achieved. First, we need to adhere to ecological civilisation and increase the drive for building a beautiful world. Biodiversity affects the well-being of humanity and provides the basis for humans to survive and prosper.

While industrial development has created vast material wealth, it has also caused ecological crises as manifested in loss of biodiversity and environmental damage. A sound ecosystem is essential for prosperity. We need to respect nature, follow its laws and protect it. We need to find a way for man and nature to live in harmony, balance and coordinate economic development and ecological protection, and work together to build a prosperous, clean and beautiful world.

Secondly, we need to uphold multilateralism and build synergy for global environmental governance. Since the founding of the UN, the international community has made efforts towards global environmental governance. International instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement form the legal foundation for environmental governance.

They represent important accomplishments of multilateral cooperation and enjoy broad support and participation from the international community. Faced with the risks and challenges to the environment worldwide, countries share a common stake as passengers in the same boat living in a community with a shared future. We must firmly safeguard the UN-centered international system and uphold the sanctity and authority of international rules so as to enhance global governance on the environment.

Third, we need to continue with green development and increase the potential for high-quality economic recovery after COVID-19.  Globally, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on every aspect of economic and social development. We need to have our eyes on the long run, have determination and stay the course for green, inclusive and sustainable development.

The UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development points the way forward, and recognizes biodiversity as an important component. We should strive to find development opportunities while preserving nature, and achieve win-win in both ecological conservation and high-quality development.

Fourth, we need to heighten our sense of responsibility and strengthen the power of action to tackle challenges to the environment. Being at varying stages of development, developed and developing countries have different historical responsibilities and practical capabilities for addressing environmental issues.

We need to uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits, and accommodate developing countries' concerns over funding, technology and capacity building. We need to earnestly fulfil our commitments, focus on our targets, and effectively reverse biodiversity loss.

The theme of COP15 next year, "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth", embodies humanity's hope for a better future. Indeed, China has pursued development under the vision of building an ecological civilization. From the traditional Chinese wisdom that the laws of nature govern all things and that man must seek harmony with nature, to the new development philosophy emphasizing innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, China has always prioritised ecological progress and embedded it in every dimension and phase of its economic and social development. The goal is to seek a kind of modernisation that promotes harmonious co-existence of man and nature.

China has adopted a holistic approach to conserving mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands, and made coordinated efforts to advance biodiversity governance. For the last 10 years, China has topped the world in forest resource increase, with more than 70 million hectares of land turned into forests. This includes long-term, large-scale efforts to combat sandification and desertification, and protecting and restoring the wetlands.

China now has one of the world's largest banks of genetic resources. 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystem types and 85 percent of key wild animal populations are under effective protection. As the largest developing country, China is prepared to take on international responsibilities commensurate with its level of development, and contribute its part to global environmental governance.

Guided by the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue to make extraordinary efforts to scale up its nationally determined contributions and efforts toward meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement. China will adopt even more forceful policies and measures and strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.


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