There are grounds for optimism. Díaz thinks there is now more awareness by governments and the public of the importance of biodiversity. “Five years ago it was unthinkable that people, especially young people, will take the streets to claim for solutions for climate and nature.” In early 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron urged the “fight of the century” to combat climate change and preserve the environment.
On September 22, on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, nine organizations pledged US$5 billion over the next 10 years to support the creation, expansion, management, and monitoring of protected and conserved areas of land, inland water and sea, working with indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society and governments. This is the largest biodiversity private fund so far.
As a routine, a COP host country contributes to a host country fund to achieve COP goals. For example, Germany invested 800 million euros (US$926m) after COP9 to support the implementation of more than 30 sub-projects. At the last moment of the deadlocked negotiations on the COP10 Nagoya Protocol where Aichi was negotiated, Japan announced a presidential proposal to invest 1 billion yen (US$8.9m) for the Japan Biodiversity Fund and an additional 1 billion yen to help developing countries in capacity building.
NewsChina learned from sources in the CBD negotiation team that China is developing a host country fund plan.
In July, during the 2021 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2021), CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema noted the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will include a reporting, monitoring and accountability structure, which was missing from the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. “It took a while for national-level implementation to begin. But this time, the action plans are already in place, so implementation should begin immediately,” she said in an interview with China Dialogue in November 2020. “One lesson that signatories to the convention learned from the failure of Aichi was that the work cannot be left to governments alone,” Mrema said. “This time, the framework will ensure universality, inclusivity and transparency, and all stakeholders are already engaged in making contributions to the framework.”
“The biodiversity convention’s member states have to publish biodiversity action plans – but these are often statements of a country’s ambitions, rather than records of its achievements. For the next set of goals this has to change,” stated the Nature article, “fortunately there seems to be a way forward. This is the UN System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), a mechanism for reporting environmental data, and it needs to become the global standard for environmental reporting.”
At the crossroads of biodiversity preservation, expectations are high for Kunming COP15. “I think China is in a unique place to reach across to a number of countries,” Basile van Havre told China Dialogue in September 2020, adding that it has a significant advantage in being able to persuade as yet undecided developing nations.
China can contribute unique innovations to the process of biodiversity conservation. One highlighted contribution, often presented on international occasions, is the Grain for Green program, a successful reforestation effort. The program pays farmers to plant trees on degraded lands, and so far has transformed some 15 million hectares of degraded agricultural land and 17 million hectares of barren mountainous wasteland with natural vegetation.
Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, as lead author, published an article in July titled “Integrating climate, biodiversity, and sustainable landuse strategies: innovations from China” in National Science Review, an English-language periodical published in China. The article introduced China’s spatially explicit land-use policies and its ecological conservation redline system, showing with suitable modifications, these experiences of China can provide a new approach to achieve large-scale and holistic protection of species and habitats and hold important lessons for other countries to design their policy frameworks.
Addressing China’s would-be role in the negotiation of the new framework, Li Shuo added that much depends on how profound the changes are that China can bring to the convention. One of the key issues, according to Li, is that after the “Kunming targets” are planned and agreed upon, all countries should formulate domestic strategies as soon as possible to address and fulfill the Kunming goals one after another.
On October 8, three days before the opening of COP15 in Kunming, the State Council released the White Paper on Biodiversity Conservation in China. Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment spoke at a press conference releasing the new white paper. He said that a key emphasis of the white paper was to outline the theory and practice of biodiversity protection in China, to improve the international community’s understanding of China’s biodiversity conservation, and to add Chinese wisdom to global biodiversity preservation.