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China seeks harmony among humans, nature for greener future

By Seymur Mammadov | | Updated: 2021-10-14 09:51
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Aerial photo taken on June 7, 2021 shows wild Asian elephants in Jinning district of Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Not long ago, Chinese and many world media outlets shared the joyful news of the return of a group of elephants to their habitat after a long journey in Southwest China's Yunnan province. As wild Asian elephants fall under the highest category of protection in China, their population in the country has grown to 300 individuals.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke about the elephants of Yunnan province at the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP 15. He cited this story as an example, talking about the successes of China in building an ecological civilization. The return of the elephants, he said, "shows a vivid result of our endeavors to protect wild animals. China will continue to advance ecological progress, stay committed to implementing the new development philosophy emphasizing innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, and build a beautiful China."

The traditional Chinese philosophy of balance fits perfectly in relation to nature in China. In this country, nature and humans are in balance and complement each other. The nature of China is unique and varied, with distinctive and recognizable Chinese landscapes. It is impossible to confuse the Lushan Mountains with the Alps, Cordilleras or Altai.

The country is also one of the most biodiverse nations in the world, thanks to not only nature but also efforts by people and the government. "Man and nature need to coexist in harmony. When we take care to protect nature, nature rewards us generously; when we exploit nature ruthlessly, it punishes us without mercy. We need to have a deep reverence for nature, respect nature, follow nature's laws and protect nature, so as to build a homeland of harmonious coexistence between man and nature," said Xi, outlining the path that China currently follows.

Last year, the British journal Nature published an article highlighting China's key role in the global management of biodiversity as Chinese scientists have a wealth of experience worth emulating. According to the article, China has been studying the balance of economic development and environmental damage for several decades, which is useful for exploring biodiversity on a global scale.

The tireless and purposeful efforts of China have borne great fruit. A total of 112 rare and endangered plant species unique to the country have returned to the wild thanks to measures to expand their protection zones and preserve biodiversity outside their habitat. China has designated its first group of national parks including the Three Rivers National Park, Giant Panda National Park, Northeast Chinese Tiger and Leopard National Park, Hainan Rainforest National Park and Wuyishan National Park. The protected area is 230,000 square kilometers and covers nearly 30 percent of the main terrestrial wildlife species found in China.

In addition, construction began on a system of national botanical gardens in Beijing and Guangzhou. You can imagine how these megacities will flourish after the implementation of this program.

Yet these are not even the most stunning numbers. Thanks to massive efforts to combat desertification, China ranked first in the world in terms of forest growth. Some 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystems and vegetation, as well as 85 percent of wildlife populations, are protected by the state.

On the eve of the summit, the press office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China published a white paper, which elaborates on the country's actions to preserve biodiversity and its achievements in this area. The white paper presents the formation of a new model of biodiversity conservation with Chinese characteristics.

It is very important to note that China, in adhering to the concept of the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature, prioritizes biodiversity conservation and strives for green development. The country has developed and implemented a number of measures to improve the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation, including the establishment of a system of national parks as well as "red lines" to protect the environment. Biodiversity conservation has been declared a national strategy in the country.

Since 2015, China has launched major biodiversity conservation projects, steadily strengthened surveillance and control of illegal activities such as destruction and threats to biodiversity, and continuously monitored progress in the implementation of the China Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030).

China's environmental victories are not only reflected in the restoration of biodiversity. In 2020, the share of quality air in 337 large cities of the country reached nearly 90 percent, and the share of quality water in the country rose from 66 percent in 2015 to 83.4 percent in 2020. Meanwhile, forest cover increased to 23.04 percent.

"We are living in an era both fraught with challenges and full of hopes. As long as we press ahead with perseverance, a bright future will beckon. For the sake of our common future, we need to join hands and start a new journey of high-quality development for humanity," Xi said in his speech.

Humanity will have to solve the problems caused by industrial civilization, learn to build its activities in an ecological framework, and ensure the holistic conservation and systematic management of mountains, rivers, forests, agricultural land, lakes, meadows and deserts.

China also advocates for international cooperation in this area and urges consideration of people's desire for a better life to achieve win-win results in the fields of environmental protection, economic development, job creation and poverty reduction, in an effort to bolster the sense of satisfaction, happiness and security of people in all countries. The new environmental goals being set today must be ambitious, pragmatic and balanced at the same time to make global environmental governance more equitable.

As a practical support to its proposals, China announced the establishment of the Kunming Biodiversity Fund and pledged an investment of 1.5 billion yuan ($233 million). In addition, China has committed itself to continue bringing its industry in line with environmental standards and develop renewable energy. In particular, in the desert regions of the country, the emphasis will be on wind and solar energy. The construction of the first phase of such projects has recently begun with an installed capacity of about 100 million kilowatts.

At the conclusion of his speech, Xi philosophically remarked that "If we humanity do not fail Nature, Nature will not fail us."

Building an ecological society is not difficult. The most important thing is that the leaders of countries have a firm will to do so, and Chinese President Xi is one such leader possessing this will. Under his guidance, China is blazing a path for the rest of the world through its efforts to fight for a better and greener future for all.

The author is the director of the international expert club EurAsiaAz and editor-in-chief of the Azerbaijani news agency Baku Tribune.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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