China and African nations push for new global fund to secure biodiversity accord

China and African nations are pushing for the establishment of a multi-billion-dollar “global biodiversity fund” to help developing countries meet goals agreed in the UN Convention on Biodiversity being negotiated to protect nature, U.N. officials and observers said.

About 195 countries are expected to finalise a new accord to safeguard the planet’s plants, animals and ecosystems at a two-part U.N. summit due to culminate in May next year in the southern Chinese city of Kunming.

China as host of the UN Convention on Biodiversity has urged countries to recognise the importance of biodiversity in human health and endorse key Chinese about protecting natural ecosystems, according to a draft declaration (the Kunming Declaration) submitted to the United Nations

this week.

Key next steps

COP 15 to be held in Kunming next year |
View of the rain forest in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan province, China.

  • China’s ‘Kunming Declaration’ to be agreed by all parties ahead of the delayed COP 15 biodiversity negotiation in October 2021.
  • The “zero draft” of the declaration includes the key Chinese concept of “ecological civilisation”.
  • Governments have been invited by China to give their feedback on the draft before September 6.

China wants the ‘Kunming Declaration’ to be agreed by all parties ahead of the delayed COP 15 biodiversity talks in October 2021 in the southwestern city of Kunming, with the aim of sealing a new global CBD treaty.

The “zero draft” of the declaration, published on the official website of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity on Thursday, includes the key Chinese concept of “ecological civilisation”.

It also includes the formulation of “lucid water and lush mountains”, first used in a 2005 speech by China’s President Xi Jinping and included in dozens of Chinese policy documents and propaganda campaigns since 2012.

The document also calls on parties to “mainstream” biodiversity protection in decision-making, and recognise the importance of conservation in protecting human health – a prominent theme among China’s leaders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China wants the international community to sign the declaration during the virtual Kunming talks on October 11, with the aim of building a consensus behind a more detailed global treaty to be finalised in person next May.

Governments have been invited to give their feedback on the draft before September 6, according to a cover letter sent to the UN by Chinese environment minister Huang Runqiu.

The difficulty of meeting face to face because of the COVID-19 pandemic meant the summit was postponed three times and then split into two, with the first virtual session scheduled for October and preparatory discussions now underway.

Shortfall in biodiversity protection funding for developing nations

Global annual spending to protect and restore nature on land needs to triple this decade to about $350 billion by 2030 and rise to $536 billion by 2050, a U.N. report said in May.

Conservation NGOs and China have criticised low levels of funding pledged by rich countries to help developing nations do this, while many leaders are still relying on natural resources to bolster their economies and lift people out of poverty.

The draft Kunming Declaration includes a core pledge to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.

Basile van Havre, co-chair of the talks under the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, said China and a number of mainly African countries are proposing a new biodiversity fund to help finance the goals of the pact, once agreed. “The idea of increasing funding is a good one and we all welcome this,” said van Havre,

Improving conservation and management of natural areas, such as parks, oceans, forests and wildernesses, is seen as vital to protecting the ecosystems on which humans depend and limiting global warming to internationally agreed targets.

China’s hosting of a major U.N. environment conference for the first time is also seen by green groups as an important step for the Asian economic power-house towards playing a more prominent role both domestically and internationally on biodiversity.

Beijing’s draft “Kunming Declaration” to the United Nations urges countries to recognise the importance of biodiversity in human health and to endorse Chinese policies for protecting ecosystems.

“When it comes to issues such as finance and implementation (of the new global framework), there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Li Shuo, policy advisor at Greenpeace China.

The first part of the summit would be an opportunity for governments to send signals on those issues, including whether wealthy nations are prepared to step up on finance, he added.

Li said a new global biodiversity fund could be announced with an initial contribution from China, to help steer talks on finance at October’s virtual meeting.

Sources: The Wire: Science, 28 Aug 2021 (and other sources)

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