Convention chief recognizes nation's role in ecological civilization

China Daily| Updated: October 11, 2021


Elizabeth Maruma Mrema

Guided by the concept of ecological civilization, China has made marked progress in biodiversity conservation and is expected to continue to lead the world in this regard, a United Nations official said.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, hailed China's efforts at a news conference in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Saturday ahead of the COP 15 UN biodiversity conference.

With the theme "Ecological Civilization-Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth", the summit will be held in Kunming from Monday to Friday, and then continue in the first half of next year.

Ecological civilization is a concept promoted by President Xi Jinping for balanced and sustainable development that features the harmonious coexistence of man and nature.

Mrema said the theme is in line with the convention's long-term vision.

"What it actually means is a close relationship and coexistence between man and nature," she noted. "The long-term vision of the convention is living in harmony with nature by 2050. Are we different? It is the same thing."

She said that when China established an ecological civilization, a principle was to look at the coexistence between economic development and environmental considerations.

"All countries want to develop. But as development, as rapid industrialization continues, that should not be at the cost of the environment," she said.

Mrema said ecological civilization, which was enshrined in China's Environmental Protection Law in 2014 and then in its Constitution in 2018, has been a guiding principle for biodiversity conservation in the country.

China's banning of the trade in ivory and the consumption of wild animals in recent years were measures for conserving biodiversity and for ensuring the sustainability of wildlife management in accordance with ecological civilization, she said.

The largest UN gathering on biodiversity in a decade, COP 15 is tasked with elaborating on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and identifying new protection goals through 2030.

The draft of the framework, which was unveiled in July, called for 30 percent of Earth's land and sea areas to be conserved. The plan is known as"30 by 30".

"I'm sure by the time the framework is adopted, China will already be miles, kilometers away in terms of actions already taken and will only be upscaling and strengthening those actions because they are already taking place on the ground," Mrema said.

China has surpassed the goal set in the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets of having 17 percent of its land under protection, she said. It now has 18 percent of its land under protection, and plans to lift the proportion to 25 percent before the end of the decade.

"China has already taken measures to deal with threatened species to the extent that now they are recovering and graduating from threatened species to vulnerable. And others even completely moved out," she said, citing the giant panda as one example.

"And this gives China an even better negotiating status in its participation during the negotiation, because it has practical examples to demonstrate for other countries to learn from and hopefully emulate, taking into account their own specific national situations."