Global Biodiversity Protection and China’s Role

2021-11-25 17:32XiaoNengwen
当代世界英文版 2021年4期

XiaoNengwen

Biological diversity both lays the foundation for human survival and development and provides the bloodline and basis for all life on Earth. At the Leaders' Summit of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), Chinese President Xi Jinping made the initiative of “joining hands and starting a new journey of high-quality development for humanity”, emphasizing that China is ready to work together with the international community in guarding the symbiosis of all things and pooling strength to build a community of all life on Earth. The COP15 adopted the Kunming Declaration, pledging to formulate, adopt and implement an effective “post-2020 framework for global biological diversity”, and to guarantee that biological diversity be on the road of restoration by 2030 at the latest. Facing the new situation, it is imperative for countries to strengthen cooperation, enhance global governance on biological diversity, improve biodiversity and ecosystem services, and promote a benign circle of natural ecology, biological diversity and human well-being.

Convention on Biological Diversity and Global Biological Diversity Protection

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Brazil adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), putting forward three objectives of protection of biological diversity, sustainable utilization of integral elements of biological diversity, equitable and rational sharing of commercial benefit and other forms of application of genetic resources. Since it coming into force in 1993, over 190 countries of the world have signed up as parties to the CBD. Centering on the implementation of the CBD, parties to the CBD and other pertinent organizations have done a great deal of work and achieved positive results. The CBD has adopted a series of normative documents such as norms, guidelines and plans. The COP10 held in Japan in October 2010 adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, identifying global biodiversity protection targets, also known as the Aichi Targets, with 5 strategic targets and 20 interconnected concrete targets. The Aichi Targets clarified timetable and pathways for global biodiversity protection, setting up a baseline for improving the conditions of biodiversity and for implementing biodiversity benefit sharing policies and supporting measures.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has integrated the follow-up actions for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) and put forward the concept of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), aiming to connect policy and science, enhance biodiversity protection and sustainable utilization, and secure long-term sustainable development of human well-being and society. By issuing a series of assessment reports, the IPBES has helped advance global biodiversity protection mainstreaming and increase its political property, playing an important role in formulating and implementing global biodiversity protection policies.

The COP 13 included biodiversity into coordination framework within and between departments. The COP 14 emphasized the biodiversity mainstreaming in energy, mining, infrastructure construction, manufacturing and processing industries. The projects of the MA and the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and the IPBES have helped the biodiversity mainstreaming and provided basic information and policy support for global biodiversity protection and sustainable utilization. As a core mechanism in global biodiversity governance, the CBD has been generally accepted by the international community. As its highest body of power, the Conference of the Parties (COP) is binding for parties to the CBD. The principal responsibility for reaching the CBDs targets resides with the parties to the CBD, governments being obliged to protect and sustainably utilize biodiversity. However, the CBD lacks binding mechanism for non-parties to it.

Although the institutional construction of global biodiversity governance has ?gradually improved, global biodiversity protection continues to face many a problem, mainly including the following areas. First, the fulfillment of global biodiversity targets 2020 is less than satisfactory. As the assessment report of the IPBS points out, only a minority of the Aichi Targets is hopefully achieved or make positive progress whereas the majority of them has made limited progress or even deviated from the said direction. Secondly, results are unbalanced in countries implementation of biodiversity protection. In general, country reports submitted by governments show that the Aichi Targets have made progress in all countries, but the degree of progress in general gives little ground for optimism. Besides, as a rule of thumb, national targets are not identical with the Aichi Targets, gap existing between countries commitment to the Aichi Targets and their actual action in honoring the commitment. Third, there is room for improvement of efficiency of the CBD through synergy by coordination. On the international level, the implementation of the CBD, and a series of other international conventions closely related to biodiversity like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitats (Ramsar Convention) falls to the province of different bodies of the United Nations. Therefore, it is necessary to further improve convention synergy by coordinating implementation bodies and national strategic action plans, heightening public awareness, strengthening scientific research, monitoring and assessment, and promoting sharing and dissemination of information.

Chinas Role in the Process of Biodiversity Protection

Since becoming a party to the CBD, China has actively participated in international implementation activities, formulating and improving a series of laws, rules and pertinent policy plans on biodiversity protection and sustainable utilization, and making achievements that attract the worlds attention.

I .China Comprehensively Enhances Biodiversity Protection

China has surpassed the requirement of the Aichi Target in three areas of restoring and ensuring major bio-system services, increasing ecosystem resilience, and carbon storage. It has basically reached 13 other targets and made advanced progress on the other four. Chinas performance in reaching the Aichi targets is slightly better than the world average. In concrete terms, Chinas major progress and results in the area of biodiversity protection include the following aspects.

First, Chinas biodiversity protection mainstreaming has made remarkable progress. In recent years, China has promulgated and revised over twenty laws and rules relating to biodiversity protection such as the Forestry Law of the Peoples Republic of China, the Grassland Law of the Peoples Republic of China, the Law of the Peoples Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Law of the Peoples Republic of China, the Marine Environmental Protection Law of the Peoples Republic of China, and the Biosecurity Law of the Peoples Republic of China, providing legal basis for biodiversity protection. China has set up a national commission on biodiversity protection made of 23 departments under the State Council as its member units, formulating and implementing the Opinions on Further Strengthening Biodiversity Protection, and the Decision on Completely Prohibiting the Illegal Wildlife Trade, Eliminating the Bad Habit of Indiscriminately Eating Wild Animals, and Truly Ensuring the People's Security in their Lives and Health, upgrading biodiversity protection to be a national strategy, making biodiversity protection a key link of building ecological civilization and including it into the mid and long-term planning of various regions and various realms.

Second, priority areas of biodiversity are under effective protection. China has put in place a protected area system with national parks as the mainstay, initially demarcating an area of national ecological protection under the red line that occupies about a quarter of the countrys land area, and putting at least 95 percent of the rare and endangered animals and plants under protection. The number of various kinds of nature reserves reaches 11,800. The total area of land nature reserves exceeds 1.7 million sq km, accounting for about 18 percent of the countrys land area. The total area of marine nature reserves reaches 124,000 sq km, making up about 4.1 percent of waters under the countrys jurisdiction. Moreover, China has designated 5 national parks, namely, the Three-River-Source National Park, the Giant Panda National Park, the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, the Hainan Tropical Forests National Park, and the Wuyishan National Park, covering a total area of more than 230,000 sq km, or about 2.3 percent of Chinas land area, and embracing nearly 30 percent of wild land animal and plant species under national priority protection, which has enabled some of the wild population of endangered species to gradually recover.

Third, a relative complete species protection system has taken shape. China has taken the lead in completing the assessment of conditions of higher plant, vertebrate, and major fungus protection, compiling and publishing the China Biodiversity Red List, which includes 3,879 species of higher plants, 932 species of vertebrates, and 97 species of major fungi as endangered species. 65 percent of wild population of higher plant species and 89 percent of wild animal and plant species under national priority protection are being protected in the nature reserve system. Nationwide, 195 arboretums have conducted translocation conservation on 22,104 species of indigenous plants. 240 zoos (animal exposition areas) keep 775 species of Chinese and foreign animals. China has successfully reintroduced 206 species of rare and endangered plants, as the country that has rewilded the most species of plants in the world. Besides, China has set up 250 wild animal rescuing and breeding stations, establishing stable artificial breeding population for over 300 species of endangered species of wild animals, gradually enhancing species protection capacities.

Fourth, marked effect has been achieved in protecting and restoring ecosystem. Since the late 1980s, China has been achieving for 3 decades running “double-growth” in both forest area and stocking volume. It has put 80 million hectors of grassland under grazing prohibition, struck a balance between grassland and livestock on 18000 hectors, and conserved over 66.67 million hectors of grassland. It has reduced average overload rate of national key grassland to 10.2 percent. Chinas national wetland conservation rate reaches 52.2 percent. In terms of desertification control, it has reached the UNs zero growth of land degradation 2030 ahead of schedule. As illustrated by the latest satellite data, Chinas green transition model is outstanding. Occupying only 6.6 percent of global vegetated area, China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area.

Fifth, it has continued to enhance control and law enforcement for biodiversity protection. China has actively carried out departmental, regional and international joint law enforcing actions, cracking down on illegal and criminal conduct of damaging biodiversity. It has conducted central supervision over ecological and environmental protection, such as the “green shield” enhanced inspection special operation on nature reserves, and the “blue sea” law enforcement special operation on marine environmental protection, cracking down on illegal and criminal conduct involving wildlife, and strictly investigating any conduct that harms wild animals and plants under national priority protection or their habitat.

Furthermore, China takes the lead in combining biodiversity protection with its goals of carbon peak and carbon neutrality. On April 22, 2021, President Xi Jinping announced, while attending a leaders meeting on climate change via video links, that China will strive to reach carbon peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. At the COP15, President Xi Jinping emphasized that China will put in place a “1+N” policy framework for carbon peak and carbon neutrality. To reach the targets of carbon peak and carbon neutrality is a necessary prerequisite for China to implement the new development philosophy and promote high-quality development, being both Chinas important strategic task in coping with global climate change and a major strategic measure in its enhancing coordination and planning for ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

At present, China accelerates the establishment of financing mechanism, incentive policy, departmental coordination mechanism, check-up system and industrial development policy for coordinated progress of carbon peak and carbon neutrality action on the one hand and ecosystem and biodiversity protection on the other. It aims to combine biodiversity protection with nature-based solutions, scientifically design and implement various kinds of carbon reduction projects, and increase carbon sink of ecosystem in order to continuously make substantial progress in building convention synergy and push forward biodiversity protection and sustainable management.

II.China Actively Contributes Chinese Wisdom and Solutions to International Cooperation on Biodiversity Protection

First, China has provided a new vision to global biodiversity governance. As President Xi Jinping emphasized at the COP15 Leaders Meeting, “we shall take the development of ecological civilization as our guide to coordinate the relationship between man and Nature”, which is an important guidance for global biodiversity governance and also in close alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, epitomizes Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, contributes Chinese wisdom to global biodiversity protection, and helps start a new journey of global biodiversity governance for jointly building a shared future for all life on Earth.

Second, it actively takes the lead in formulating targets for global biodiversity. The Kunming Declaration adopted by the COP15 commits to ensuring the development, adoption and implementation of “an effective post-2020 global biodiversity framework” to reverse the current loss of biodiversity and ensure that biodiversity is put on a path to recovery by 2030 at the latest, towards the full realization of the 2050 Vision of "Humanity Living in Harmony with Nature." It also commits to enhance and build on an effective nature reserve system, actively improve global environmental legal framework, and increase the provision of financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries necessary to implement the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The post-2020 global biodiversity framework will set still higher targets for biodiversity protection and will play a pivotal role for global diversity protection and sustainable development for the future decade and for an even longer period of time.

Third, it facilitates the process of global biodiversity governance by increasing input and promoting green transformation. China declares to contribute 1.5 billion yuan to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, to build a green, low-carbon and circular economic system in translating ecological strengths into development strengths, to enhance protection and reparation of nature and ecosystem, and to coordinate efforts in meeting global challenges of climate change, loss in biodiversity, and food security. China will promote the implementation of major projects in biodiversity protection and national key projects in protecting and repairing ecosystem, conduct biodiversity survey, monitoring and assessment, strengthen on-site and translocation conservation, and coordinate the relationship between biodiversity protection and economic development. It will facilitate the realization of its own sustainable development and that of the world as a whole.

Conclusion

The COP15 establishes the new vision and new wisdom such as taking the construction of ecological civilization for guide, coordinating the relationship between man and nature, and enhancing global biodiversity protection. Guided by the vision of “ecological civilization--building a shared future of all life on Earth”, China will strengthen cooperation and exchanges with all parties and, through building on consensus, increasing input and coordinating synergy, facilitate the arrival of consensus and the completion of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework that is comprehensive, balanced, effective and executable. Looking into the future of global biodiversity protection, only by every party to the CBD earnestly performing its principal responsibility for planning, monitoring, reporting and examination mechanisms, only by global cooperation and extensive action, can the relationship between human society and biodiversity be effectively transformed, can the trend of biodiversity loss be reversed, and can the sustainable development vision featuring harmony between man and nature come true.

Xiao Nengwen is a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of Institute of Ecology, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences