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Action sought for biodiversity

By LIU YINMENG/RENA LI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-09 06:59
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People enjoy the immersive video experience hosted by the National Geographic Society at an event during the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal on Wednesday.[Photo/Agencies]

Appeals made to tackle nature and species extinction as COP15 opens

The 15th meeting of the United Nations Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, or COP15, kicked off on Wednesday with summit leaders calling for international cooperation to tackle rapidly declining nature and species extinction around the world.

In his opening remarks, Huang Runqiu, president of COP15 and China's minister of ecology and environment, stressed that biodiversity is at a crossroads and action is urgently needed to address the issue. "From today's meeting onward, I look forward to seeing the parties, international organizations and stakeholders demonstrate the spirit of international cooperation; show political determination and the utmost sincerity during the second phase of the meeting; fully demonstrate flexibility; and actively seek common ground on key issues," Huang said.

He called on all parties "to make positive political commitments "and to continue to increase international financial input to create favorable conditions for moving consultations forward.

Huang also encouraged high-level representatives such as ministers of countries and heads of international organizations and institutions to focus on solving difficult issues, build "the greatest consensus" and inject political impetus to achieve the "landmark outcome of the conference", namely the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, or GBF.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, made similar remarks and urged "transformative change", "ambitions" and "commitments" to realize the convention's 2050 vision of "living in harmony with nature".

Mrema also expressed her gratitude to Huang and the Chinese government for their "tireless efforts".

"Through the global pandemic, you found a way for us to not only hold the first part of this COP last year, but to also mobilize the commitment of the world through the Kunming Declaration," she said.

'Ambitious' plans needed

During a COP15 news conference on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on governments to develop "ambitious national action plans", while also pushing the Global North to increase funding for developing countries.

"We need developed countries to provide meaningful financial support for the countries of the Global South as custodians of the world's natural wealth, following centuries of exploitation and loss," he said.

Guterres spoke highly of China's work in biodiversity protection and climate change, "especially its practical efforts to promote and coordinate all parties as the president of COP15".

The second part of COP15, which is now on in Montreal until Dec 19, follows the first phase of the meeting in Kunming in October 2021.

One issue at stake during COP15 is the lack of sufficient funding for developing countries to meet global biodiversity targets.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union, a representative from Senegal highlighted the need for countries to "commit adequate financial resources" to protect biodiversity.

A delegate from Palau, who represented countries from the Asia-Pacific region, said the nations in the region "highly emphasize the need for adequate resource mobilization", adding that the region welcomes international funding for the implementation of GBF, including the Kunming Biodiversity Fund.

China launched the Kunming Biodiversity Fund during the first part of COP15 in Kunming last year and pledged $230 million to it. The fund will help developing countries support biodiversity protection.

Most of the world's population resides in the Asia-Pacific region, where countries range from landlocked to big ocean states. Hence, there is a divergence of views and opinions among the nations, the Palau delegate said.

"But as a region, we believe that this GBF is an important strategy that can set the world on the path to ensuring its survival, and we are committed to working with other regions to shape the future of global biodiversity in the next couple of weeks," she added.

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LIU YINMENG and RENA LI in Montreal

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