Chaired by China, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) has reached an encouraging agreement.
The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a UN deal aimed at reversing biodiversity loss and setting the world on a path of recovery, was adopted ahead of schedule.
The adoption of the framework is "a bold step forward to protect nature, to protect the air that we breathe, the water that we drink," commented Steven Guilbeault, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
One of the landmark consensuses reached in the framework is the "30 by 30" goal, meaning to protect at least 30 percent of lands, oceans, coastal areas and inland waters by 2030. Also, delegates agreed to establish a multilateral fund within the framework for the equitable sharing of benefits between providers and users of Digital Sequence Information that contains pharmaceutical product development, and improved crop breeding. It will be finalized at COP16 in Türkiye in 2024.
"China has shown leadership in global biodiversity protection as chair of COP15," said Peng Kui, program manager of the Ecosystem Conservation & Community Development Program of Global Environment Institute.
During the conference, China helped form synergy from all parties, including national delegates, the scientific community, the private sector as well as other interest groups concerning environmental protection. The country played a crucial role in closing gaps to reach an ambitious and practical framework that the international community has been expecting.
Still, financial issues added tension to the negotiations but were partly smoothed by the coordination of China, Peng told CGTN. For instance, although the reduction of annual harmful government subsidies by $500 billion is very controversial, it was finally put in the conference's final report.
The framework also demands raising international financial flows from developed to developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, small island developing states and countries with economies in transition, to at least 20 billion U.S. dollars annually by 2025, and to at least 30 billion dollars annually by 2030.
The adoption of the framework and the associated package of ambitious targets, goals and financing represents a first step in resetting our relationship with the natural world, said Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program in a statement at the closing plenary of COP15.
Apart from closely cooperating with all parties and stakeholders towards the conclusion of the GBF, China also showed the ability to make quick and firm decisions at critical moments, according to Peng.
To facilitate the negotiation in the last few days, a ministerial meeting was held in which ministers from developed and developing countries helped working groups to discuss thorny issues like the protection of the right of indigenous people and local communities, as well as the Digital Sequence Information on genetic resources. China also brought forward a presidential text on the broad consensus reached during the meeting.
"I think there is cautious optimism as with the adoption of Global Biodiversity Framework. Although difficulties lie in realizing these goals in practice in the future, the global biodiversity framework offers a balanced guidance for all parties and brings confidence to global efforts in biodiversity protection and sustainable development," said Peng.
Since the first part of the COP15 was held in 2021 in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, China has convened nearly 40 meetings of the presidium and more than 100 bilateral and multilateral coordination meetings and seminars at different levels to promote greater consensus among all parties.
China takes the lead in preserving biodiversity as it has launched 10 pilot national parks since 2015. The protection area covers nearly 30 percent of the national key protected wild animals and plants in the land area.
On Thursday, China selected 49 areas in 28 provinces for building more national parks, according to a spatial layout plan released by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration. The national park system will be the largest in the world in terms of protected areas if all 49 candidate parks are built, and brings ecological corridors under protection,
"By 2035, China will basically complete the development of its national park system," said Li Chunliang, deputy head of the administration, said at a news conference, adding that the national parks will be jointly developed through franchising, volunteer services and ecological management.