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Nations can learn from China's biodiversity efforts

By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-10-18 09:18
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A bird's-eye view of Sanjiangyuan National Park, Qinghai province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China has made remarkable achievements in its biodiversity conservation and has made efforts to share its ideas and experiences to support other developing countries, said Qin Tianbao, an environmental law professor.

Qin, director of the Research Institute of Environmental Law at Wuhan University in Hubei province, said the country has achieved economic growth while protecting its environment.

"China avoids the pattern of treatment after pollution and can provide its solution to the world, especially to developing countries who are faced with the dilemma of balancing their economies and environments," he said during the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP 15, held in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province, from Monday through Friday.

In terms of biodiversity, China will contribute both ideas and funds to other nations.

President Xi Jinping reiterated the concept of ecological civilization that features the harmonious coexistence of man and nature in a keynote speech at the Leaders' Summit of the meeting via video link from Beijing on Tuesday.

Qin said, "This concept offers the world a vital idea that addresses problems caused by industrialization."

Xi announced China's plan to set up a Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity protection in developing countries. China is taking the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan ($233.4 million) and is calling for contributions from other nations, Xi said.

Qin said, "The fund and China's large amount of investment demonstrate the country's determination to be responsible for connecting different countries to curb the trend of biodiversity loss."

He added that the fund will "lay a solid foundation for global cooperation in biodiversity conservation".

A white paper on biodiversity conservation released on Oct 8 said that China has established about 10,000 nature reserves, accounting for about 18 percent of its land area.

Over the past 40 years, the nation's population of wild giant pandas has increased from 1,114 to 1,864. In addition, the number of crested ibis in China has grown from seven upon its discovery to more than 5,000, including those in the wild and captive-bred ones, the white paper said.

Another example of China's biodiversity achievements was the attention-grabbing trip of 15 wandering wild Asian elephants across Yunnan this year, Qin said.

"The trip enabled people to get a glimpse of the coexistence of man and nature and raised people's awareness in wildlife protection," he said. "We never expected that elephants would get along with humans in this way-eating in the fields and drinking water in farmers' houses."

Qin said similar cases of wild animals entering towns may occur more often as the environment improves.

He said biodiversity affects our daily lives in terms of food, clothing, transportation and housing.

"For example, no one likes to stay somewhere with only cement buildings," he said. "We all enjoy colorful sceneries formed by various plants and animals."

Qin said it's important to predict risks and prepare for them before it's too late, so pragmatic goals are needed for biodiversity conservation.

"Extreme weather brought on by climate change often happens suddenly, while the loss of biodiversity is a slow change that people don't pay too much attention to," he said.

At COP 15, China announced that new environmental protection goals should be both ambitious and pragmatic, and a balance needs to be struck between the two.

"It is necessary to boost confidence in global biodiversity conservation so a higher standard can inspire all parties involved to work hard," Qin said. "Development goals should be set accordingly for different countries.

"The goals should also be down-to-earth and consider feasibility. If parties want to finish the work, they have to set pragmatic targets."

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