China’s role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development was the main focus of two events organized by the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) in Montreal, Canada. Among other issues, participants highlighted the need for new sources of finance for implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), technical support for biodiversity conservation post-2020, and synergy between biodiversity conservation and other environmental and development agendas.

CCICED convened a seminar on 14 December and a side event on 16 December. During the events, participants emphasized, inter alia:

  • that the Council, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has played an important role in Chinese sustainable development policy and has helped facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration and communication;
  • opportunities for China to play a leadership role in protecting biodiversity, both domestically and in collaboration with stakeholders from across the international community;
  • the importance of nature-based solutions (NbS), accounting for natural capital, and leveraging funding to support biodiversity-related projects;
  • the role of CCICED and other multilateral cooperation platforms in promoting global biodiversity governance; and
  • that economic instruments can be used to create positive incentives, including taxes and fees for services.

A number of speakers, including many CCICED members, contributed to the discussions. Zhao Yingmin, CCICED Secretary General and Chinese Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, highlighted the Council’s support for both China’s green transformation and global efforts to address climate and environmental change.

Scott Vaughan, CCICED International Chief Advisor, underscored the importance of data, indicators, and measurement frameworks to understand both biodiversity and the impacts of positive interventions. Vaughan explained that global gross domestic product (GDP) has increased dramatically, but at the expense of natural capital, and called for moving natural capital into daily decisions.

Jennifer Morris, CCICED member, and CEO, The Nature Conservancy, emphasized the importance of large-scale national planning, citing China’s work to pioneer an ecological redlining system that could be used to identify degraded areas for wind and solar farm use without undermining nature. 

Andrew Steer, CCICED member, and President and CEO, Bezos Earth Fund, called for innovation in multilateral development banks (MDBs), noting innovative and multi-stakeholder funds are the most effective.

Marco Lambertini, CCICED member, and Director General, WWF International, underscored the links between nature and climate, food, the Ocean, and health, stating these dependencies are still not recognized in key multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and that the GBF provides an opportunity to formalize these synergies. 

Other speakers:

  • called attention to China’s experience in ecosystem services payment systems, which is based not just on GDP but on gross ecosystem product (GEP) as well;
  • commended China’s efforts to reduce wildlife smuggling into the country;
  • underscored China’s many successes with ecological restoration and conservation of umbrella species, such as pandas, and plans to build a mangrove center in Shenzhen;
  • called for tackling environmentally harmful subsidies in a way that avoids unintended impacts;
  • explained that China is now able to provide policy recommendations to other developing countries;
  • pointed to the more than USD 500 billion funding gap for addressing biodiversity challenges and the need for innovation to blend finance to address this gap;
  • underscored that China has contributed a quarter of the world’s new forest area in the past decade; and
  • called for a clear implementation mechanism devoted to biodiversity conservation that allows for strengthening action over time.

Several other side events convened on 16 December.

An event, ‘Biodiversity and the Energy Revolution,’ convened by the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), highlighted: solutions to advance biodiversity conservation from the perspective of energy; GEIDCO’s debut book titled, ‘Biodiversity and Revolution of Energy and Electric Power,’ which proposes new ideas and plans for coordinated governance of biodiversity and energy; and the unsustainable, fossil fuel-dominated pattern of energy development as a contributor to the biodiversity crisis.

Another event themed, ‘Just Transformations – Land Tenure Rights as the Basis for Restoring Land and Biodiversity While Protecting People and Livelihoods,’ addressed making land rights central to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) implementation, which could enable Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) to be agents of just transformations of land restoration. Participants discussed the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) report titled, ‘Land Rights Matter for People and the Planet,’ which explores how to increase awareness of land tenure and responsible land governance to catalyze action towards land degradation neutrality (LDN). The event was organized by Töpfer Müller Gaßner (TMG), UNCCD, and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

A CBD high-level breakfast addressed implementation and operationalization of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) in a mainstreamed, effective, and practical manner, and ensuring ratification of the Protocol by all CBD parties. 

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) covered selected side events at the UN Biodiversity Conference, which convened from 7-19 December 2022.