The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) that China is hosting in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, from Monday to Friday has every reason to catch global attention.
The global extinction of species is accelerating. The alarming loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems is such that it poses a major risk to human survival.
None of the 20 time-bound, measurable targets to be met by 2020 on international biodiversity protection that were agreed at COP10 in Aichi, Japan, in 2010 have been achieved at the global level. It is therefore crucial that the framework of action for the next two decades that is to be rolled out in Kunming is not only comprehensive but also implementable.
Themed "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth", COP15 offers an opportunity for the parties to adopt new strategies for global biodiversity conservation.
Despite the global consensus that action is needed to conserve the world's biodiversity－which dates back to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity that came into place in 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro－and the tremendous efforts made to address the common challenge of biodiversity loss, the world has drifted further away from the ultimate goal of the convention to achieve harmony with nature by 2050.
That's why, apart from working with other parties to uphold multilateralism and build synergy for global governance on the environment under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, China would like to take advantage of the event to share with other parties its experience in striving to fulfill the Aichi targets for biodiversity conservation.
China is pursuing a new era of development with the objective of realizing an ecological civilization. With this goal, it is prioritizing ecological progress and embedding it in every dimension and phase of its economic and social development.
In practical terms, this means it has adopted strong policies and taken actions to protect its ecological environment and is making coordinated efforts to advance biodiversity governance. Notably, the country has stepped up legislation for the conservation of biodiversity, and has drawn red lines for protecting vital ecosystems, which is regarded as a best practice that other countries can adopt.
Looking toward the future, China is ready to take on international responsibilities commensurate with its level of development, and play its part in global environmental governance. It hopes to prove that so long as a balance can be struck between them, biodiversity conservation and development are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Biodiversity is the basis for the human race to survive and thrive, and all countries must act together－and with the utmost urgency－to advance its protection while pursuing development. Unless real actions are forthcoming to protect species and ecosystems, there may not be a future for much of the life on Earth. And that would undoubtedly prove to be a humbling reminder that we are just another species in the great web of life.
Kunming must not be just a talking shop.