III. Promoting Sustainable Development
1. Improving People’s Livelihood through Biodiversity
Proactive actions are taken to pursue synergistic progress in biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. China has taken major steps in implementing the fundamental strategies for targeted poverty alleviation and elimination, fostering competitive resources to develop eco-industries while actively facilitating pilot and demonstration projects of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. With a synergistic model of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction designed with advantageous local bio-resources taken into consideration, these bio-resources are effectively protected while the poverty-stricken households have seen significant increase in their annual income.
In poverty alleviation through biodiversity, China focuses on specific local conditions in innovating development models and empowering industries with distinctive local features. In Wufeng Tujia Ethnic Autonomous County in Hubei Province, a national-level impoverished county which is located in a key area of biodiversity, through a poverty reduction model featuring beekeeping and nectariferous plant farming in synergy with biodiversity conservation, 3,500 households are expected to shake off poverty, with an average income increase of over 5,000 yuan per household. This case was selected as one of the 110 Cases of Global Best Practice in Poverty Reduction initiated jointly by the World Bank and the FAO.
Since 2016, Baqing Village of Weichang County, Hebei Province has been actively engaged in industrial projects of biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction, capitalizing on local climate and soil advantages. A thriving economy empowered by eco-industries has taken shape with musk melons, trollius chinensis, selenium-rich organic potatoes and jerusalem artichoke generating higher income for the villagers. Thanks to the sustained and steady progress in the industrial projects, the entire village shook off poverty by the end of 2019 and the comprehensive incidence of poverty reduced to 0.34%.
2. Promoting Sustainable Use of Biodiversity
Substantial progress is made in sustainable use of biodiversity in agriculture and forestry. By introducing ecological civilization performance assessment and accountability, compensated use of natural resources, compensation for ecological conservation, accountability for ecological and environmental damage, off-office auditing of natural resources and assets, among other systems, China is actively promoting sustainable development of biodiversity in forestry, grassland, wetland, agriculture and marine environment, increasing the total forestry, grassland and wetland resources, enhancing the functions of ecosystems and implementing effective measures for resources conservation and disaster prevention for synergistic promotion of biodiversity conservation. With the implementation of the National Plan for Sustainable Development of Agriculture (2015-2030), a negative growth in the use of chemical fertilizers has been achieved ahead of schedule and the comprehensive utilization of livestock and poultry manure and crop stalks has experienced significant improvement.
Sustainable use of marine resources and aquatic life resources has been enhanced. With ecosystem-based comprehensive marine management implemented in China, a set of policies and measures for resources conservation are put in place for better protection of aquatic life and sustainable utilization of existing fishery resources. Since 2003, the entire basin of the Yangtze River, the longest river in China, is subject to 3 to 4 months of fishing prohibition annually; since January 1, 2020, a fishing ban has been imposed on all 332 aquatic life conservation areas in the Yangtze River Basin; Starting on January 1, 2021, a ten-year fishing ban will be imposed on the mainstream and key tributaries of the Yangtze River as well as major lakes connected to it to provide time and space for the rehabilitation of its ecosystem, hence protecting the gene bank of biodiversity. Actions are taken for ecological conservation and restoration, emphasizing the protection of rare and endangered aquatic species, the proliferation of aquatic life resources and effective restoration by releasing fish fry into the waters. Summer moratorium of marine fishing and “double control” of fishing vessels, i.e., gradual reduction of both the number and total power of fishing vessels, are pursued to relieve the fishing pressure on fishery resources. A cap-based management system is implemented on marine fishery resources to gradually cut the marine catch, aiming at a balance between total marine catch and marine fishing resources capacity.
3. Promoting Social Justice through Biodiversity
An eco-compensation mechanism is established to promote balanced development between regions and industries. China has been increasing the transfer payment to key eco-function zones and increased the input in areas like forest eco-efficiency compensation, grassland ecological conservation subsidy and reward, and wetland ecological compensation. Efforts are made to carry out ecological relocation of residents in key eco-function zones and collective forest ownership reforms in poverty-stricken areas, and to improve trans-regional and cross-watershed ecological compensation, with a view to facilitating poverty alleviation through ecological conservation.
The transfer payment system for national key eco-function zones has been set up, as a policy guide for local governments in protecting the ecological environment and improving people’s livelihood. From 2008 to 2019, the central government has allocated a total of 523.5 billion yuan in transfer payment, which covers 818 counties annually. Such transfer payment has helped preserve the authenticity and integrity of the ecosystems in national nature reserves. Steady progress has been made in the environment of Sanjiangyuan (source of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers) Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province, and the water source area of the middle route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Counties at national key ecological function areas have effectively performed their functions in wind-break and sand-fixing, water and soil conservation, water source conservation and biodiversity preservation. Over 50% of them enjoy good environment and over 90% see their environment improved or well maintained.
Biodiversity conservation has helped promote gender equality. China is one of the first 46 countries pledging to work for social gender mainstreaming and the host country of the 4th World Conference on Women. China formulated the National Program for the Development of Women in 1995, and then updated it in 2001, 2011 and 2018 respectively. In the Program, environment was identified as one of the seven areas for promoting gender equality, with ten specific goals to be achieved. These goals include developing a holistic approach for drinking water safety in rural areas, reducing the damage to women’s health caused by water pollution, encouraging women to take part in energy-saving and emission reduction programs and lead a low-carbon life, enhancing women’s capacity in terms of disaster and risk prevention and preparedness, and meeting women’s special needs in disaster risk reduction. Most of the goals have been achieved ahead of schedule.
Local governments at all levels have promoted gender equality through biodiversity conservation projects by making full use of their respective ecological resources. Gansu Province has developed the Implementation Plan of Gender Mainstreaming in Protected Areas in Gansu and the Guidelines for Information Collection (Supervision) for the Gender Mainstreaming Project to increase women’s income, enhance their family and social status and protect their capability of and right to acquiring resources in the mainstreaming of biodiversity.
IV. Encouraging the Engagement of the Entire Society
1. Enhanced Government Guidance
The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has organized a series of events under the framework of “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, China in Action” to enhance public awareness of the concept and regulatory measures of biodiversity. The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) has also played an active role. Over 200 media outlets have launched public awareness programs on biodiversity with enthusiastic public engagement. On important occasions such as the World Environment Day, Earth Day, International Biodiversity Day, World Wildlife Day, World Wetland Day, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, and International Day of Forest, departments of natural resources, eco-environment, forestry and grassland have launched events to raise public awareness of the importance and achievements of biodiversity conservation, and help roll out awareness campaigns and science education programs at local levels, with a view to encouraging broad social participation. In addition, new publicity platforms on the new media are used and new publicity models are explored to “bring biosafety information to campuses, communities, government bodies, mobile devices, plane cabins and exhibition halls” nationwide.
2. Enterprises in Action
China has contributed to the building of the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (GPBB). Business are the leading actors in exploring and utilizing biodiversity resources as well as the main force for the sustainable development of biodiversity. In 2015, China joined the GPBB initiated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, encouraging domestic enterprises to get involved in biodiversity-related initiatives. Thanks to the desertification prevention efforts by Chinese enterprises in Kubuqi Desert, a significant increase has been achieved in forest and vegetation coverage, the number of species surged from less than 10 to 530, and over 100 wildlife species that were believed to have disappeared re-emerged. In December 2011, multiple companies signed an agreement to join the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), pledging to drive sustainable forest management and responsible trade of forestry product, curb illegal logging and promote reliable timber trade certification. In 2015, nine Chinese enterprises and six NGOs and industrial associations jointly issued the Forest Declaration, calling on relevant Chinese enterprises to work together toward the goal of zero deforestation in supply chain of timber products by 2030.
Besides, some enterprises have taken the initiative to fulfill their environmental protection social responsibility. A company working on Wudongde Hydropower Station identified Heishui River, a primary tributary of Jinsha River, as a natural habitat for fish, and set up an ecological conservation fund for environmental protection and research in the river basin. Another enterprise responsible for the building of Yebatan Hydropower Station identified the 53km downstream reach of the tributary in Xizang as a natural habitat for protection and took measures to mitigate the adverse impact on aquatic environment caused by its project.
3. Extensive Public Participation
In recent years, robust development of Chinese NGOs dedicated to environmental protection and notable enhancement in public awareness have greatly contributed to the endeavor of biodiversity conservation. In 2017, 23 NGOs jointly launched the Alliance of Civil Protected Area in an effort to create new governance models such as community governance, public welfare governance and joint governance. The goal is to harness non-governmental strength to help protect at least 1% of China’s total territory by 2030 through innovative approaches such as conservation concession agreement, co-management with local community, the land trust protected area model and community conserved area. In addition, environmental NGOs are playing an increasingly significant role in biodiversity policy-making, information disclosure, and public interest litigation. NGOs and the general public were involved in the formulation and revision of the Law on National Parks and the Law on Wild Animal Protection, and encouraged to contribute valuable insights and proposals. In three years’ time, 120 million trees were planted and maintained in Alxa, Erdos, Bayan Nur and Tongliao of Inner Mongolia, and Wuwei and Dunhuang in Gansu Province, covering a total area of 1.4 million mu (93,333 hectares), with sand control area estimated to be over 1 million mu (66,667 hectares). In April 2020, Ant Forest, an afforestation scheme initiated by a Chinese company, launched the conservation program of Chengduojiatang Protected Area in Sanjiangyuan. The program has offered protection to more than 100 million square meters of land through its donations.
V. Promoting Global Biodiversity Governance in a Constructive Way
1. Actively Participating in the Process of the Convention on Biological Diversity
As a key participant and advocate of the Convention on Biological Diversity, China was among the first to sign and ratify the Convention, and has constructively engaged in its Nagoya Protocol and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and contributed to the conclusion and entry into force of the instruments. China is ready to work with all parties to firmly uphold the multilateral biodiversity governance system and push for an even greater role of the Convention in global biodiversity governance.
China has conscientiously fulfilled the obligations stipulated in the Convention on Biological Diversity and related protocols and submitted high quality national reports as scheduled. In July 2019, China submitted its 6th National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. China has actively implemented the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted at the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and achieved good results. In particular, marked progress has been made in Target 14 about restoration and safeguarding of ecosystems that provide essential services, Target 15 about enhancing ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks, and Target 17 about national biodiversity strategy and action plan.
In terms of synergistic effect with other international environmental treaties and conventions, China has taken an active part in the process of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat and the documents of the UN Forum on Forests. Emphasizing the ecosystem integrity, China has advocated “Nature-Based Solutions” (NBS), making it a synergistic solution in combating climate change and biodiversity loss. In 2017, China hosted COP13 of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and established, in cooperation with relevant international environmental conventions organizations, the International Desertification Control Knowledge Management Center. During the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019, China and New Zealand jointly led the efforts on NBS projects, by releasing, with the United Nations and other participating parties, the Policy Proposal on Nature-Based Solutions and the Collection of Cases of UN Climate Action Summit Nature-Based Solutions Initiative, and inviting more countries and organizations to join the NBS Alliance and enhance cooperation and exchanges through “Friends of NBS”. Based on its own experience, China has also proposed an NBS action initiative of “Drawing a ‘Red Line’ for Ecological Protection to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change”, further enriching the contents of NBS.
2. Making Every Effort to Ensure the Success of COP15
Preparations for the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) are well underway. China and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity have jointly announced the theme for COP15 and unveiled its official logo. The COP15 theme is Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth. The COP15 logo, which is in the shape of a water drop and features elements of nature, is inspired by the Chinese traditional art of paper-cutting. The logo fits well with the 2050 Vision of “living in harmony with nature” and combines the CBD process and symbols of the host country. The Organizing Committee and Executive Committee for COP15 were set up in July 2019, and all preparations, including venue services and logistic support, are progressing smoothly.
China is willing to share with all parties its experience and best practices in advancing ecological civilization and biodiversity conservation and fulfill its mandate as the host country. To play a constructive role in its capacity as the COP15 presidency, China will strengthen communication and cooperation with the Secretariat and all parties, engage the private sector, civil society, charity organizations and other stakeholders and encourage them to contribute to the success of COP15 and jointly promote the process of global biodiversity governance.
3. Contributing to Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Governance
The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to be considered and adopted at COP15 will be a milestone in the CBD history as it is a plan of strategic importance for global biodiversity governance in the next decade and beyond.
China is of the view that the Framework should be both ambitious and realistic and reflect in a balanced manner the three CBD objectives: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The means of implementation and enabling conditions under the GBF must be strengthened to ensure greater support for developing countries in terms of resource mobilization, technology and capacity building. China looks forward to a full discussion and consultation with all parties through an open, transparent and parties-driven process and calls on all parties to move in the same direction and expand consensus. China hopes that COP15 will come up with a landmark outcome document, and contribute to a more just and equitable post-2020 global biodiversity governance framework that embodies the best efforts of all parties.
VI. Strengthening International Exchanges and Cooperation
1. Establishing Wide-ranging Mechanisms for Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation and Communication
Establishing multilateral cooperation mechanisms for green development under the Belt and Road Initiative. Since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, China has worked closely with the international community to build a green Belt and Road. China and international partners have jointly established the Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition, which serves as a platform for BRI cooperation on green development. To date some 150 Chinese and international partners from over 40 countries have joined the Coalition. BRI Green Coalition includes ten thematic partnerships, one of which is biodiversity and ecosystem management partnership. The Coalition has hosted ten major events covering a broad range of topics such as ecosystem evaluation and management, business and biodiversity partnership, sustainable agriculture, arid region management and sustainable supply chain. The BRI Environment Big Data Platform is in the making. The platform has biodiversity data from over 100 countries and provides data in support of a rational decision-making process for BRI green development projects. A Green Silk Road Envoy Program has been launched to help build up environmental protection capacity of developing countries. Under the program, China has provided more than 2,000 training opportunities for environmental protection officials, experts and technicians of over 120 participating countries. The training on biodiversity conservation had more than 600 participants. The Green Silk Road Envoy Program is a significant contribution to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in those countries.
Expanding bilateral cooperation. In 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron reached an important consensus on cooperation in biodiversity conservation and other fields, and jointly issued the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change. China has established separate bilateral mechanisms with Germany, Norway, the UK, and South Africa for exchanges and cooperation in areas of biodiversity and ecosystem services, climate change and biosafety. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have established a China-Japan-ROK tripartite policy dialogue on biodiversity under the framework of the China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Environmental Cooperation Mechanism. Biodiversity is also highlighted as a priority area in China’s environmental protection cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), riparian countries of the Lancang-Mekong River, and African countries. Meetings have been held on a regular basis to discuss issues related to biodiversity conservation, access to genetic resources and benefit sharing.
2. Strengthening South-South Cooperation
In recent years, the Chinese government has provided biodiversity conservation support for other developing countries to the best of its ability under the framework of South-South cooperation. China has carried out a number of projects and programs to help other developing countries build up their environmental management capacity in the development of green economy and compliance with international environmental conventions. Over 80 countries worldwide have benefited from these activities. In Asia, China has hosted regular roundtable meetings on Lancang-Mekong environmental cooperation, with a focus on ecosystem management, sustainable infrastructure, and biodiversity conservation. China and ASEAN member states have jointly launched and implemented a number of cooperation initiatives, including the China-ASEAN Cooperation Plan on Biodiversity and Ecological Conservation, the project of strengthening the capacity of South East Asian countries for the development and implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the GMS Core Environment Program Strategy Framework and Action Plan 2018-2022. Ecological conservation is also high on the agenda of China-Africa cooperation. China has provided biodiversity conservation equipment to African countries and sponsored seminars and workshops on biodiversity conservation to help train African government officials and technicians responsible for wildlife conservation and environmental protection.
In the face of the tremendous impact of COVID-19 on its economy, China remains committed to pursuing ecological protection and green development as its priorities and will press ahead with its planned biodiversity conservation projects and programs. China stands for multilateralism and is committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China will actively participate in global biodiversity governance and contribute to global ecological civilization and to a shared future for all life on Earth. China stands ready to join the international community in building a clean, beautiful world thriving with life.