China supports the United Nations in holding the Biodiversity Summit and lauds the UN efforts and contributions in advancing global environmental governance. Against the backdrop of accelerated global biodiversity loss and the impact of COVID-19 on various aspects of the economy and society, it is imperative that all parties work together to address the serious challenges facing global biodiversity.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. Sustained efforts have been made toward the initiative of “building a beautiful China”. 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”.
As the incoming presidency of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), China is a staunch advocate of multilateralism and has always been an active participant and facilitator of the multilateral process of biodiversity. China stands for the balanced implementation of the Convention’s three objectives, namely the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. China urges all parties, under the principles of fairness, transparency and parties-driven process, to broaden consensus, move in the same direction, and facilitate the adoption of an ambitious, balanced and realistic Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and move toward a more just and equitable biodiversity governance system that embodies the best efforts of all parties.
I. Adhering to the Philosophy of Ecological Civilization
In light of the serious challenges presented by industrialization such as environmental pollution and ecosystem degradation, the Chinese government has been advocating and working to advance ecological civilization, which draws upon the ancient Chinese notion of “unity of nature and man” and “follow nature’s course”. It embodies the cultural ethics based on the tenets of harmonious coexistence between man and nature, among human beings and between humanity and society, virtuous cycle, all-round development and sustainable prosperity. The philosophy is underpinned by eight principles that China upholds, i.e., civilizations thrive on their natural surroundings; man and nature should coexist in harmony; lucid water and lush mountains are invaluable assets; no welfare is more universally beneficial than a sound natural environment; mountains, waters, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands are part of a community of life; the strictest regulations and laws must be applied in protecting the environment; an all-nation effort is needed to build a beautiful China; global ecological conservation requires the joint efforts of all; and ecological civilization must be incorporated into all aspects and the whole process of advancing economic, political, cultural, and social progress. These principles align closely with the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. They are also highly compatible with the 2050 Vision “Living in harmony with nature”.
Ecological civilization was enshrined in the Chinese constitution in 2018 and embedded in the master blueprint of national development. China has put forward the philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. Guided by the philosophy of ecological civilization, China’s efforts in this regard have kicked into high gear. The beautiful scroll of bluer skies, greener mountains and clearer waters will unfold in front of the world.
Building a shared future for all life on Earth represents the shared aspiration of mankind. Faced with the ecological challenges, all people are members of a community where they rise and fall together. China adheres to the philosophy of ecological civilization and has made remarkable progress in this respect. China is willing to join hands with the international community to raise the awareness of respecting, following and protecting nature, actively share its experience in advancing ecological civilization, stay committed to green development and a low-carbon, circular and sustainable mode of production and life, jointly build a shared future for all life on Earth, and chart the course for global ecological civilization.
II. Adopting Strong Policy Measures
1. Accelerating the Mainstreaming of Biodiversity
China has developed inter-agency government coordination mechanisms for biodiversity. In 2011, the China National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation (CNCBC), composed of 23 departments under the State Council and headed by a Vice Premier, was established to promote communication and collaboration among departments and coordinate biodiversity actions at the national level.
China has formulated and executed a strategic plan for biodiversity conservation. Drafted and adopted in 2010, the China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030) identified the overall goals, strategic tasks and priority actions for biodiversity conservation in the country for the coming two decades. Since 2015, China has conducted wildlife survey and monitoring through major biodiversity conservation projects, logging more than 2.1 million entries. Continued efforts have been made to track and evaluate the progress in the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan.
China has incorporated biodiversity into its overall planning for economic and social development, ecological protection and restoration, land use as well as its special plans. The country puts biodiversity conservation high on the agenda, codifying it into the 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2016-2020). A comprehensive structure for ecological conservation has taken shape, marked by the introduction of a national spatial planning framework, setting the ecological conservation red lines and development of a nature reserve system. Measures for the protection and management of biodiversity are clearly identified through plans for ecological protection and improvement, water and soil conservation, rehabilitation of farmland, grassland, rivers and lakes, and protection of endangered wildlife and water resources. In June this year, China unveiled a 15-year comprehensive plan for ecosystem management entitled the Master Plan for the Major Projects for the Protection and Restoration of National Key Ecosystems (2021-2035).
China has accelerated biodiversity conservation efforts at the local level. More than 20 local governments, such as Sichuan and Heilongjiang, have unveiled Provincial Biodiversity Conservation Strategies and Action Plans, with biodiversity conservation committees established to coordinate the implementation of related policies and actions and participate in major decision-making and planning at the local and departmental level in order to effectively support subnational biodiversity conservation.
2. Improving the Legal and Policy Frameworks
China has provided solid legal safeguards for biodiversity conservation. The country has promulgated and revised a host of laws and regulations pertinent to biodiversity conservation, including those on environmental protection, wild animal protection, seeds, livestock, fishery, forestry, grassland, the marine environment, protection of nature reserves and wild plants. Vigorous efforts have also been made to refine laws and regulations on the protection and oversight of biological resources, biosafety and compensation for ecological damage. The legal framework for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity has seen continuous improvement.
Comprehensive and effective policies for biodiversity conservation have been devised. China has released some 40 documents on advancing ecological civilization, including the Opinions on Accelerating the Advancement of Ecological Civilization and the Integrated Reform Plan for Promoting Ecological Progress. In the meantime, policy measures, such as the Opinions on Delineating and Strictly Observing the Ecological Conservation Red Lines, Guidance on Establishing a Protected Area System Composed Mainly of National Parks, and the Overall Plan for Establishing a National Park System, provide the policy backbone for biodiversity conservation in China.
China has introduced legislation to ban the consumption of wild animals in order to protect public health. On February 24, 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress voted in favor of the Decision to Comprehensively Prohibit the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminate the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption, and Protect the Health and Safety of the People. The Committee also explicitly stated the need to amend the Law on Wild Animal Protection and related regulations and to accelerate the legislation on biosafety.
3. Funding Support
Funding from the Chinese government toward biodiversity conservation has grown steadily in recent years. Over 260 billion yuan was earmarked in biodiversity-related causes each year in 2017 and 2018, six times the amount in 2008. The funding was mainly directed toward such areas as nature reserves, the protection of natural forests and ecosystems, conversion of farmland to forest and grassland, conversion of grazing land to grassland, protection, restoration and utilization of agricultural resources, protection of biological resources, alien species management, grassland protection and restoration, forest resources management, wildlife protection, wetland protection, control of desertification and rocky desertification, reduction of fishing intensity, marine environmental protection and monitoring and related transfer payments. A total of 1.2 billion yuan is allocated from the central budget for national nature reserves alone during the 13th Five-Year Plan period for projects designed to improve their management, monitoring, and scientific research capabilities.
China has used a gamut of fiscal and tax incentives to mobilize private capital for biodiversity conservation. In 2008, the country rolled out a number of preferential income tax provisions and policies and allowed pre-tax deductions, tax exemptions and 50% discounts for eligible enterprises in such sectors as environmental protection, energy and water conservation, comprehensive utilization of resources, public sewage treatment and waste disposal. China adjusted the consumption tax on refined oil products in 2009, which aided in environmental sustainability by increasing the unit tax and leveraging the role of tax measures. Since 2012, pollution discharge fees have been roughly doubled in a number of provinces. In 2018, China’s environmental NGOs raised a total of 3 billion yuan for the protection of wildlife, the marine environment and wetlands, re-vegetation with trees and grasses and environmental education. In 2020, a national green development fund with a registered capital of 88.5 billion yuan was set up. The move is aimed at establishing a green financial system led by the government, predominated by the businesses and participated by social organizations and the public to direct and incentivize more private investments into green industries through innovative financial mechanisms, market-oriented operations and corporate management practices.
4. Strengthening Ecological Protection and Restoration
An array of major ecological protection projects in such areas as wetlands, forests, rivers and desertification have been conducted, and tremendous strides have been made. China subscribes to the philosophy that “mountains, waters, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands are part of a community of life”, and values the continuity and integrity of the natural geographical unit as well as habitat connectivity. Leveraging the self-healing power of nature and advancing ecological restoration projects in a scientific manner, the country has carried out a series of key programs including the protection and restoration of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands, conversion of farmland to forest and grassland, conversion of farmland to wetland, establishment of shelterbelts such as the “Three-North” Shelterbelt and the Yangtze River Shelterbelt, natural forest protection, forest quality improvement, the Beijing-Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Project, comprehensive treatment of rocky desertification, marine pastures and fishing prohibition in key waters of the Yangtze River Basin. These projects have helped enhance and restore wildlife habitats in key areas. The forest coverage has steadily increased; grassland degradation has been curbed; and wetland protection efforts have seen initial success. Since the tail-end of the 1980s, both forest cover and stock volume have grown for 30 consecutive years. Between 2009 and 2019, China topped the world in forest resource increase with a total of 71.307 million hectares of land afforested. Satellite data show that more than a quarter of the newly added green space in the world between 2000 and 2017 was in China, making it the largest contributor to the greening of the global landscape.
China has been working steadily to put in place a red line system for ecological protection, which marks a crucial institutional innovation for national spatial planning and management. It is yet another line in the sand drawn by the Chinese government following the declaration of a red line of no less than 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land. The country’s ecological red line is critical in maintaining its ecological security, ecosystem function, and sustainable socioeconomic development. About a quarter of land is scheduled to be covered by the red line by the end of 2020. An ecological red line has been drawn at each level down the chain of government spatial planning. The areas under special protection are important ecologically functional zones and ecologically vulnerable areas and cover all types of nature reserves with national parks being the main component. Environmental degradation caused by human activity has been reduced through strict management protocols. China does not allow its ecological protection red lines to be trampled upon as it strives to protect biodiversity, adjust its economic structure, draw blueprints for industrial development and promote a new type of urbanization. However, this is not equivalent to “absolute” protection for all areas, and is by no means “no man’s land” or a “vacuum” for development. The Chinese government encourages the sustainable utilization of high quality ecological resources and the exploration of mechanisms to tap into the value of ecological products. In other words, lucid waters and lush mountains can be invaluable assets and the ecological benefits can be harnessed to create economic gains.
5. Continuing to Improve In-situ and Ex-situ Conservation
In terms of in-situ conservation, China has made active efforts to establish a protected area system with national parks being the main component. By the end of 2018, China had identified 11,800 protected areas, including 10 pilot national parks, and 474 national-level and 864 provincial-level nature reserves. Together, they span a total of 1.728 million square kilometers, accounting for more than 18% of China’s land mass. A protected area system with a relatively broad spectrum of reserve types, sound layout and complete set of functions has been put in place. Some 90% of the types of natural terrestrial ecosystems, 89% of the species on the national key list of protected wild plants and animals and the majority of China’s natural relics are being protected in the nature reserves.
When it comes to ex-situ conservation, China has set up nearly 200 botanical gardens (arboretums) and preserved more than 23,000 species of plants. The country has also built over 240 zoos (animal exhibition sites), in which 775 species of animals are being cared for, and established 250 wild animal rescue and breeding centers. The populations of close to 10 endangered species including the giant panda and crested ibis have begun to rebound. More than 60 rare and endangered wild animal species have gained a stable population through artificial propagation.
6. Strengthening Capacity Building
China has been committed to data monitoring, research and collation. The country has issued a series of technical guidelines in this field, and created a national biodiversity monitoring and research network composed of 10 special networks and 1 integrated monitoring and management center. It has also undertaken efforts to catalogue biodiversity, resulting in such valuable works as China Biodiversity Red List – Higher Plants, China Biodiversity Red List – Vertebrates, China Biodiversity Red List – Large Fungi and Catalogue of Life in China. They laid a data groundwork for understanding and assessing China’s biodiversity.
China has vigorously built conservation facilities for genetic resources. A national crop germplasm resources conservation system featuring a consortium of long-term banks, mid-term banks, germplasm repositories, in-situ conservation sites and gene banks has been developed. The country has also established a system of protection for livestock and poultry genetic resources supported by the triple helix of breeding protection sites, protected areas and gene banks. To date, 510,000 specimens of crop plants and more than 560 local breeds of livestock and poultry are being preserved long-term. China ranks among the top in the world by both metrics. The country has set up 31 repositories for the preservation of medicinal plant species and 2 germplasm resource banks, which are responsible for the safekeeping of over 12,000 specimens of seeds and seedlings.
China has worked to improve the prevention and control of invasive alien species by refining the legal regime for their management, releasing the list of invasive alien species likely to threaten biodiversity and ecosystems, and advising and supporting local governments in the investigation, monitoring, prevention, elimination and management of invasive alien species. China has also issued a series of technical standards and specifications for the monitoring and risk assessment of genetically modified organisms and products, and improved its GMO safety management. The National Animal and Plant Protection Capacity Improvement Plan (2017-2025) has been devised and implemented to strengthen China’s ability to prevent and manage invasive alien species.
7. Strengthening the Supervision and Inspection of Biodiversity Conservation
China has continued to step up oversight and investigation of illegal activities such as the damage and endangerment of biodiversity. The monitoring of some 400 national nature reserves through satellite remote sensing has been completed, and 225 national scenic areas are all under the monitoring of remote sensing instruments. The country has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal activities in nature reserves, and imposed severe penalties accordingly following special investigations. China has actively engaged in international cooperation to investigate and prosecute criminal acts involving wildlife, and conducted special operations to combat illegal firearms and explosives in order to curb at the source the use of firearms for hunting. In addition, the country has cracked down on such activities as the trafficking of precious or endangered animal and plant species and products, investigated and prosecuted the illicit distribution and mailing of seeds and seedlings, launched special campaigns against illegal fishing in the Yangtze River Basin and the sale of illegally caught fish, and cut off the chain of unlawful fishing, transportation and sale of wild fish in the Yangtze River.
III. Promoting Sustainable Development
1. Improving People’s Livelihood through Biodiversity
Proactive actions are taken to pursue synergistic progress in biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. China has taken major steps in implementing the fundamental strategies for targeted poverty alleviation and elimination, fostering competitive resources to develop eco-industries while actively facilitating pilot and demonstration projects of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. With a synergistic model of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction designed with advantageous local bio-resources taken into consideration, these bio-resources are effectively protected while the poverty-stricken households have seen significant increase in their annual income.
In poverty alleviation through biodiversity, China focuses on specific local conditions in innovating development models and empowering industries with distinctive local features. In Wufeng Tujia Ethnic Autonomous County in Hubei Province, a national-level impoverished county which is located in a key area of biodiversity, through a poverty reduction model featuring beekeeping and nectariferous plant farming in synergy with biodiversity conservation, 3,500 households are expected to shake off poverty, with an average income increase of over 5,000 yuan per household. This case was selected as one of the 110 Cases of Global Best Practice in Poverty Reduction initiated jointly by the World Bank and the FAO.
Since 2016, Baqing Village of Weichang County, Hebei Province has been actively engaged in industrial projects of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction, capitalizing on local climate and soil advantages. A thriving economy empowered by eco-industries has taken shape with musk melons, trollius chinensis, selenium-rich organic potatoes and jerusalem artichoke generating higher income for the villagers. Thanks to the sustained and steady progress in the industrial projects, the entire village shook off poverty by the end of 2019 and the comprehensive incidence of poverty reduced to 0.34%.
2. Promoting Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
Substantial progress is made in sustainable use of biodiversity in agriculture and forestry. By introducing ecological civilization performance assessment and accountability, compensated use of natural resources, compensation for ecological conservation, accountability for ecological and environmental damage, off-office auditing of natural resources and assets, among other systems, China is actively promoting sustainable development of biodiversity in forestry, grassland, wetland, agriculture and marine environment, increasing the total forestry, grassland and wetland resources, enhancing the functions of ecosystems and implementing effective measures for resources conservation and disaster prevention for synergistic promotion of biodiversity conservation. With the implementation of the National Plan for Sustainable Development of Agriculture (2015-2030), a negative growth in the use of chemical fertilizers has been achieved ahead of schedule and the comprehensive utilization of livestock and poultry manure and crop stalks has experienced significant improvement.
Sustainable use of marine resources and aquatic life resources has been enhanced. With ecosystem-based comprehensive marine management implemented in China, a set of policies and measures for resources conservation are put in place for better protection of aquatic life and sustainable utilization of existing fishery resources. Since 2003, the entire basin of the Yangtze River, the longest river in China, is subject to 3 to 4 months of fishing prohibition annually; since January 1, 2020, a fishing ban has been imposed on all 332 aquatic life conservation areas in the Yangtze River Basin; Starting on January 1, 2021, a ten-year fishing ban will be imposed on the mainstream and key tributaries of the Yangtze River as well as major lakes connected to it to provide time and space for the rehabilitation of its ecosystem, hence protecting the gene bank of biodiversity. Actions are taken for ecological conservation and restoration, emphasizing the protection of rare and endangered aquatic species, the proliferation of aquatic life resources and effective restoration by releasing fish fry into the waters. Summer moratorium of marine fishing and “double control” of fishing vessels, i.e., gradual reduction of both the number and total power of fishing vessels, are pursued to relieve the fishing pressure on fishery resources. A cap-based management system is implemented on marine fishery resources to gradually cut the marine catch, aiming at a balance between total marine catch and marine fishing resources capacity.
3. Promoting Social Justice through Biodiversity
An eco-compensation mechanism is established to promote balanced development between regions and industries. China has been increasing the transfer payment to key eco-function zones and increased the input in areas like forest eco-efficiency compensation, grassland ecological conservation subsidy and reward, and wetland ecological compensation. Efforts are made to carry out ecological relocation of residents in key eco-function zones and collective forest ownership reforms in poverty-stricken areas, and to improve trans-regional and cross-watershed ecological compensation, with a view to facilitating poverty alleviation through ecological conservation.
The transfer payment system for national key eco-function zones has been set up, as a policy guide for local governments in protecting the ecological environment and improving people’s livelihood. From 2008 to 2019, the central government has allocated a total of 523.5 billion yuan in transfer payment, which covers 818 counties annually. Such transfer payment has helped preserve the authenticity and integrity of the ecosystems in national nature reserves. Steady progress has been made in the environment of Sanjiangyuan (source of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers) Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province, and the water source area of the middle route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Counties at national key ecological function areas have effectively performed their functions in wind-break and sand-fixing, water and soil conservation, water source conservation and biodiversity preservation. Over 50% of them enjoy good environment and over 90% see their environment improved or well maintained.
Biodiversity conservation has helped promote gender equality. China is one of the first 46 countries pledging to work for social gender mainstreaming and the host country of the 4th World Conference on Women. China formulated the National Program for the Development of Women in 1995, and then updated it in 2001, 2011 and 2018 respectively. In the Program, environment was identified as one of the seven areas for promoting gender equality, with ten specific goals to be achieved. These goals include developing a holistic approach for drinking water safety in rural areas, reducing the damage to women’s health caused by water pollution, encouraging women to take part in energy-saving and emission reduction programs and lead a low-carbon life, enhancing women’s capacity in terms of disaster and risk prevention and preparedness, and meeting women’s special needs in disaster risk reduction. Most of the goals have been achieved ahead of schedule.
Local governments at all levels have promoted gender equality through biodiversity conservation projects by making full use of their respective ecological resources. Gansu Province has developed the Implementation Plan of Gender Mainstreaming in Protected Areas in Gansu and the Guidelines for Information Collection (Supervision) for the Gender Mainstreaming Project to increase women’s income, enhance their family and social status and protect their capability of and right to acquiring resources in the mainstreaming of biodiversity.
IV. Encouraging the Engagement of the Entire Society
1. Enhanced Government Guidance
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has organized a series of events under the framework of “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, China in Action” to enhance public awareness of the concept and regulatory measures of biodiversity. The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) has also played an active role. Over 200 media outlets have launched public awareness programs on biodiversity with enthusiastic public engagement. On important occasions such as the World Environment Day, Earth Day, International Biodiversity Day, World Wildlife Day, World Wetland Day, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, and International Day of Forest, departments of natural resources, eco-environment, forestry and grassland have launched events to raise public awareness of the importance and achievements of biodiversity conservation, and help roll out awareness campaigns and science education programs at local levels, with a view to encouraging broad social participation. In addition, new publicity platforms on the new media are used and new publicity models are explored to “bring biosafety information to campuses, communities, government bodies, mobile devices, plane cabins and exhibition halls” nationwide.
2. Enterprises in Action
China has contributed to the building of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (GPBB). Business are the leading actors in exploring and utilizing biodiversity resources as well as the main force for the sustainable development of biodiversity. In 2015, China joined the GPBB initiated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, encouraging domestic enterprises to get involved in biodiversity-related initiatives. Thanks to the desertification prevention efforts by Chinese enterprises in Kubuqi Desert, a significant increase has been achieved in forest and vegetation coverage, the number of species surged from less than 10 to 530, and over 100 wildlife species that were believed to have disappeared re-emerged. In December 2011, multiple companies signed an agreement to join the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), pledging to drive sustainable forest management and responsible trade of forestry product, curb illegal logging and promote reliable timber trade certification. In 2015, nine Chinese enterprises and six NGOs and industrial associations jointly issued the Forest Declaration, calling on relevant Chinese enterprises to work together toward the goal of zero deforestation in supply chain of timber products by 2030.
Besides, some enterprises have taken the initiative to fulfill their environmental protection social responsibility. A company working on Wudongde Hydropower Station identified Heishui River, a primary tributary of Jinsha River, as a natural habitat for fish, and set up an ecological conservation fund for environmental protection and research in the river basin. Another enterprise responsible for the building of Yebatan Hydropower Station identified the 53km downstream reach of the tributary in Xizang as a natural habitat for protection and took measures to mitigate the adverse impact on aquatic environment caused by its project.
3. Extensive Public Participation
In recent years, robust development of Chinese NGOs dedicated to environmental protection and notable enhancement in public awareness have greatly contributed to the endeavor of biodiversity conservation. In 2017, 23 NGOs jointly launched the Alliance of Civil Protected Area in an effort to create new governance models such as community governance, public welfare governance and joint governance. The goal is to harness non-governmental strength to help protect at least 1% of China’s total territory by 2030 through innovative approaches such as conservation concession agreement, co-management with local community, the land trust protected area model and community conserved area. In addition, environmental NGOs are playing an increasingly significant role in biodiversity policy-making, information disclosure, and public interest litigation. NGOs and the general public were involved in the formulation and revision of the Law on National Parks and the Law on Wild Animal Protection, and encouraged to contribute valuable insights and proposals. In three years’ time, 120 million trees were planted and maintained in Alxa, Erdos, Bayan Nur and Tongliao of Inner Mongolia, and Wuwei and Dunhuang in Gansu Province, covering a total area of 1.4 million mu (93,333 hectares), with sand control area estimated to be over 1 million mu (66,667 hectares). In April 2020, Ant Forest, an afforestation scheme initiated by a Chinese company, launched the conservation program of Chengduojiatang Protected Area in Sanjiangyuan. The program has offered protection to more than 100 million square meters of land through its donations.
V. Promoting Global Biodiversity Governance in a Constructive Way
1. Actively Participating in the Process of the Convention on Biological Diversity
As a key participant and advocate of the Convention on Biological Diversity, China was among the first to sign and ratify the Convention, and has constructively engaged in its Nagoya Protocol and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and contributed to the conclusion and entry into force of the instruments. China is ready to work with all parties to firmly uphold the multilateral biodiversity governance system and push for an even greater role of the Convention in global biodiversity governance.
China has conscientiously fulfilled the obligations stipulated in the Convention on Biological Diversity and related protocols and submitted high quality national reports as scheduled. In July 2019, China submitted its 6th National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. China has actively implemented the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and achieved good results. In particular, marked progress has been made in Target 14 about restoration and safeguarding of ecosystems that provide essential services, Target 15 about enhancing ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks, and Target 17 about national biodiversity strategy and action plan.
In terms of synergistic effect with other international environmental treaties and conventions, China has taken an active part in the process of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat and the documents of the UN Forum on Forests. Emphasizing the ecosystem integrity, China has advocated “Nature-Based Solutions” (NBS), making it a synergistic solution in combating climate change and biodiversity loss. In 2017, China hosted COP13 of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and established, in cooperation with relevant international environmental conventions organizations, the International Desertification Control Knowledge Management Center. During the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, China and New Zealand jointly led the efforts on NBS projects, by releasing, with the United Nations and other participating parties, the Policy Proposal on Nature-Based Solutions and the Collection of Cases of UN Climate Action Summit Nature-Based Solutions Initiative, and inviting more countries and organizations to join the NBS Alliance and enhance cooperation and exchanges through “Friends of NBS”. Based on its own experience, China has also proposed an NBS action initiative of “Drawing a ‘Red Line’ for Ecological Protection to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change”, further enriching the contents of NBS.
2. Making Every Effort to Ensure the Success of COP15
Preparations for the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) are well underway. China and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity have jointly announced the theme for COP15 and unveiled its official logo. The COP15 theme is Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth. The COP15 logo, which is in the shape of a water drop and features elements of nature, is inspired by the Chinese traditional art of paper-cutting. The logo fits well with the 2050 Vision of “living in harmony with nature” and combines the CBD process and symbols of the host country. The Organizing Committee and Executive Committee for COP15 were set up in July 2019, and all preparations, including venue services and logistic support, are progressing smoothly.
Logo of COP15
China is willing to share with all parties its experience and best practices in advancing ecological civilization and biodiversity conservation and fulfill its mandate as the host country. To play a constructive role in its capacity as the COP15 presidency, China will strengthen communication and cooperation with the Secretariat and all parties, engage the private sector, civil society, charity organizations and other stakeholders and encourage them to contribute to the success of COP15 and jointly promote the process of global biodiversity governance.
3. Contributing to Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Governance
The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to be considered and adopted at COP15 will be a milestone in the CBD history as it is a plan of strategic importance for global biodiversity governance in the next decade and beyond.
China is of the view that the Framework should be both ambitious and realistic and reflect in a balanced manner the three CBD objectives: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The means of implementation and enabling conditions under the GBF must be strengthened to ensure greater support for developing countries in terms of resource mobilization, technology and capacity building. China looks forward to a full discussion and consultation with all parties through an open, transparent and parties-driven process and calls on all parties to move in the same direction and expand consensus. China hopes that COP15 will come up with a landmark outcome document, and contribute to a more just and equitable post-2020 global biodiversity governance framework that embodies the best efforts of all parties.
VI. Strengthening International Exchanges and Cooperation
1. Establishing Wide-ranging Mechanisms for Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation and Communication
Establishing multilateral cooperation mechanisms for green development under the Belt and Road Initiative. Since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, China has worked closely with the international community to build a green Belt and Road. China and international partners have jointly established the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition, which serves as a platform for BRI cooperation on green development. To date some 150 Chinese and international partners from over 40 countries have joined the Coalition. BRI Green Coalition includes ten thematic partnerships, one of which is biodiversity and ecosystem management partnership. The Coalition has hosted ten major events covering a broad range of topics such as ecosystem evaluation and management, business and biodiversity partnership, sustainable agriculture, arid region management and sustainable supply chain. The BRI Environment Big Data Platform is in the making. The platform has biodiversity data from over 100 countries and provides data in support of a rational decision-making process for BRI green development projects. A Green Silk Road Envoy Program has been launched to help build up environmental protection capacity of developing countries. Under the program, China has provided more than 2,000 training opportunities for environmental protection officials, experts and technicians of over 120 participating countries. The training on biodiversity conservation had more than 600 participants. The Green Silk Road Envoy Program is a significant contribution to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in those countries.
Expanding bilateral cooperation. In 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron reached an important consensus on cooperation in biodiversity conservation and other fields, and jointly issued the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change. China has established separate bilateral mechanisms with Germany, Norway, the UK, and South Africa for exchanges and cooperation in areas of biodiversity and ecosystem services, climate change and biosafety. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have established a China-Japan-ROK tripartite policy dialogue on biodiversity under the framework of the China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Environmental Cooperation Mechanism. Biodiversity is also highlighted as a priority area in China’s environmental protection cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), riparian countries of the Lancang-Mekong River, and African countries. Meetings have been held on a regular basis to discuss issues related to biodiversity conservation, access to genetic resources and benefit sharing.
2. Strengthening South-South Cooperation
In recent years, the Chinese government has provided biodiversity conservation support for other developing countries to the best of its ability under the framework of South-South cooperation. China has carried out a number of projects and programs to help other developing countries build up their environmental management capacity in the development of green economy and compliance with international environmental conventions. Over 80 countries worldwide have benefited from these activities. In Asia, China has hosted regular roundtable meetings on Lancang-Mekong environmental cooperation, with a focus on ecosystem management, sustainable infrastructure, and biodiversity conservation. China and ASEAN member states have jointly launched and implemented a number of cooperation initiatives, including the China-ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Biodiversity and Ecological Conservation, the project of strengthening the capacity of South East Asian countries for the development and implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the GMS Core Environment Program Strategy Framework and Action Plan 2018-2022. Ecological conservation is also high on the agenda of China-Africa cooperation. China has provided biodiversity conservation equipment to African countries and sponsored seminars and workshops on biodiversity conservation to help train African government officials and technicians responsible for wildlife conservation and environmental protection.
In the face of the tremendous impact of COVID-19 on its economy, China remains committed to pursuing ecological protection and green development as its priorities and will press ahead with its planned biodiversity conservation projects and programs. China stands for multilateralism and is committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China will actively participate in global biodiversity governance and contribute to global ecological civilization and to a shared future for all life on Earth. China stands ready to join the international community in building a clean, beautiful world thriving with life.
SOURCE: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, Media Release, 2020/09/21