The importance of biodiversity in human development can be gauged by the fact that over half of the world's GDP comes from natural resources and the livelihood of over 3 billion people depends on marine and coastal biodiversity. However, the Earth's ecosystem is under threat as the UN statistics show that 97 percent of the ecosystem has been degraded.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the international community to jointly respond to climate change and biodiversity loss while delivering a speech at the opening ceremony of the high-level segment of the second part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15, via video link on Thursday.
Xi said we need to jointly work for the conclusion of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and identify targets and pathways for global biodiversity protection.
China will do its best to support and assist fellow developing countries through the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC) to elevate global biodiversity governance to a new height, Xi said.
He also mentioned the Kunming Biodiversity Fund during his speech to show that China will do its best to help developing countries with biodiversity protection.
At the COP15 leaders' summit in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, in October last year, Xi announced China's initiative to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (around $215 million) to support biodiversity protection in developing countries.
Over the years, China has supported international biodiversity protection efforts. It was among the first to sign and ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and has become the largest contributor to the core budget of the CBD and its protocols since 2019.
According to China's white paper on biodiversity conservation, the country has supported more than 80 developing countries in biodiversity conservation under the framework of South-South cooperation.
Domestically, China has in recent years stepped up the development of a national park-based nature reserve system, drawn up ecological conservation red lines nationwide, and pushed for the integrated conservation and systematic restoration of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts.
The first batch of national parks, including the Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park and the Giant Panda National Park, was established last year and more are in the pipeline. The international community has also recognized the ecological conservation red lines as an innovative nature conservation model. The lines cover zones critical to environmental function or ecologically sensitive to protect the vast majority of rare and endangered species and their habitats.
Consequently, the habitats of wild animals have been expanding, and their populations are growing in China, according to the white paper titled "Biodiversity Conservation in China," published by the State Council Information Office in 2021.
For example, the population of giant pandas in the wild has grown from 1,114 to 1,864 over the past 40 years. Meanwhile, the number of crested ibises has increased from only seven to over 5,000, and the number of Hainan gibbons, the world's rarest primate and the most endangered among all gibbon species in the world, have increased from less than 10 in the 1980s to at least 36 at present.
The white paper states that China has established nearly 10,000 nature reserves, accounting for about 18 percent of the total land area.
In the future, China will continue to enhance diversity and sustainability in its ecosystems.
(Cover: A panda enjoys itself at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, December 12, 2022. /CFP)