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'Arduous' work to shape biodiversity plan lauded

By RENA LI in Montreal, Canada | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-12-08 08:17
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China's Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Runqiu delivers a speech during the opening of COP15, the two-week UN Biodiversity summit, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada Dec 6, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

COP15 president says ambitious, pragmatic framework sought

The COP15 negotiations on a plan for worldwide action to reverse the alarming trend of biodiversity loss by 2030 are likely to encounter three major challenges, said Huang Runqiu, China's minister of ecology and environment.

Huang, who is also president of COP15 — the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which opened in Montreal on Wednesday — made the remark at a news conference in Montreal, Canada, on Tuesday.

The first challenge, he said, is how to find a balance among the three major goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which are conservation, sustainability and benefit sharing, in order to ensure that the plan is pragmatic as well as ambitious.

COP15, scheduled to run through Dec 19, is expected to adopt the plan — the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework — before closing.

The second challenge, Huang said, is that a large funding gap and differences in funding mechanisms remain.

He said the third challenge is that, although discussions on access to and sharing the benefits of digitally stored information on genetic sequences have yielded great progress, many technical and policy issues have yet to be resolved.

In addition, there are still some differences among parties regarding the implementation review mechanism as well as monitoring and the evaluation framework.

"As the president of the biodiversity conference, I can fully understand the above difficulties and challenges. All the negotiating parties have made arduous efforts," Huang said.

"Undoubtedly, the framework will be the most important achievement of this meeting, which has historic and symbolic significance. However, we have also seen that for the multilateral negotiation process involving 196 parties, differences are inevitable," he added.

Global negotiations on the framework have achieved great progress under China's leadership, Huang said.

Citing a Chinese proverb that says, "Sharpening your ax will not delay your job of cutting wood", Huang said that the meeting has made great progress on many topics and has laid a good foundation for subsequent consultations.

At the COP14 conference in 2018, China, Egypt and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity jointly launched the Sharm El-Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People initiative. Among its commitments, the initiative aims to build on efforts from nonstate actors and other stakeholders in support of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, reverse biodiversity loss and restore nature at global, regional and local levels, and raise awareness of the urgent need for action.

So far, more than 10 percent of the commitments and contributions are made by Chinese nongovernmental organizations, enterprises and other stakeholders. Among them, some Chinese NGOs and enterprises pledged to invest 2.55 billion yuan ($365.4 million) in the next 10 years to promote 100,000 square kilometers of protected areas to improve protection efficiency.

"I expect all parties and stakeholders to show the greatest sincerity, demonstrate the greatest flexibility, seek the greatest common denominator, and promote the conclusion of the framework in the second phase of the meeting," Huang said.

The coming high-level segment of COP15, which is scheduled to be held from Dec 15 to 17, will carry out ministerial-level communication and coordination around reaching a framework, seeking high-level promotion and reaching consensus.

Huang promised that the conference will ensure a broad participation of various stakeholders, including the general public, NGOs, the private sector, youth groups and indigenous people, in order to hear their opinions and help complete the framework.

"We will continuously optimize and adjust the meeting agenda according to the negotiation process, so as to focus on key issues and speed up the negotiation process," he added.



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