The city of Kunming in southwest China, hailed by many as one of the world’s most biologically diversified places, is in the global spotlight for hosting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15).
At a time when the extinction of plants and animals is accelerating at an alarming rate, the “City of Eternal Spring” itself stands as a strong reminder that the world community should be more united, ambitious and effective in saving the Earth’s ecosystems from further destruction. By holding the meeting, China is also sending out a clear message that it is willing to work with other nations in building a community of all life on Earth. While China has made some notable headway in recent years in protecting wild animals and improving its ecosystems, the work to leave a greener and more sustainable planet can only be accomplished in a collective fashion.
The Kunming Declaration, adopted on Wednesday at the ongoing COP15, has demonstrated a broad international political will on biodiversity as it commits to ensuring the formulation, adoption and implementation of an effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to reverse the current loss of biodiversity and ensure that biodiversity is on the path to recovery by 2030 at the latest, so as to fully meet the 2050 Vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature.” To those ends, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his video speech addressing the COP15 on Tuesday, urged the international community to “enhance cooperation, build consensus and pool strength.” Under the current global circumstances, Xi’s call for stronger multilateral biodiversity cooperation bears even greater significance.
On the one hand, never before has biodiversity loss been such an imminent danger threatening the survival of the human race. For some time, while global awareness of biodiversity protection is increasing, actions often fall short. As a result, humanity is bearing the brunt of its own ignorance and inaction: the planet is heating up; species are disappearing; ecosystems are declining; and extreme weather events are popping up all over the world. “Humanity stands at a crossroads with regard to the legacy it leaves to future generations. Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying,” the UN Convention on Biological Diversity stated in the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook.
On the other, while the need to promote multilateralism is expanding, work to act on its true values is facing an acute challenge. Some developed countries which engage in zero-sum thinking are seeking to join forces among themselves for global hegemony under the pretext of multilateralism. This self-serving stratagem will severely undermine the world’s joint efforts to promote mankind’s general welfare on all fronts, including more biodiversity. The window for human beings to repent and act is short. According to a report drafted by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, to prevent what scientists have described as the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, which risks the survival of all humanity, almost a third of the world’s oceans and land should be protected by 2030. That only leaves the global community with less than ten years to build consensus and search for solutions. “We need bold actions,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged at the COP15. He also called on countries to support developing countries, including through significant financial resources and technology transfer, among others.
This is exactly what China has been advocating and practicing all along. The ongoing meeting has also seen China’s fresh promises, including establishing the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, and China is taking the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (233 million U.S. dollars). At the same time, to achieve its goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, China will also put in place a “1+N” policy framework, and continue adjusting its industrial structure and energy mix. Earlier last month, Beijing has pledged that the country, in support of green and low-carbon energy in the developing world, will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad. The battle to reverse biodiversity degradation is arduous, and must be won. In the fight for humanity’s shared better future, China will continue to walk its talk and honor the true meaning of multilateralism. Yet a final victory is only possible if everyone joins the fight.