How Do Non-State Subjects Participate in Biodiversity Conservation?
Build Bridges, Provide Supports, Become Supervisors
China Environment News

  ◆Xiao Qi

  How does saussurea gossypiphora, a plant that grows on alpine screes at an altitude of 5,000 meters, relate to the people who live in the plain areas? How does the Yunnan snub-nosed monkey that lives at the junction of three provinces (Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet) protected by local people?

  A few days ago, under the guidance and supports of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Executive Committee Office of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15). The Global Environmental Institute (GEI) together with the Paradise International Foundation, the Citizen Biodiversity Union and 10 more institutions, held a theme conference named "Build a Living Community of People and Nature: Contribution of Non-State Subjects to Global Biodiversity Conservation After 2020". As one of the warm-up activities of COP15's official parallel forum, the participants discussed the non-state subjects' participation mechanisms in biodiversity conservation and how they can better serve the supplementary and support role for national actions.

  Gather strengths of all parties, initiate action network and form a consensus on conservation

  "In addition to the participation of sovereign states and districts, biodiversity conservation requiring the participation of all parties, and non-state subjects are a significant strength in biodiversity conservation." Under this consensus, scientific research institutions, enterprises, non-governmental organizations, as well as local communities, youth groups, women's organizations and other parties are taking action for biodiversity conservation.

  Catalina Santamaria, the representative of the Secretariat of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) introduced, "We are promoting different interested parties and industries to change the traditional business model. As of June this year, more than 300 cooperative partners participated successively, and more than 200 commitment initiatives related to biodiversity conservation obtained support. Actions taken by non-state subjects can evoke the whole society's input and determination for biodiversity conservation. At the same time, they can better promote the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity."

  Gathering strengths became a frequently used word by experts and scholars that attending the conference. Jin Jiaman, the executive director of the Global Environmental Institute (GEI) shared, "We are cooperating to establish the China-Southeast Asia Mangrove Network, and hoping to use this platform to gather domestic and international non-state subjects strengths to contribute to the biodiversity conservation in China and worldwide."

  Wei Fuwen, the academician of the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, also said that it is not enough to rely only on the national support for biodiversity conservation, we need to maneuver the non-state subjects' conservation strengths and increase the funding to lean to more priority areas and vacant areas.

  In addition, reaching a consensus on biodiversity conservation is particularly pressing at present. "Despite plant and animal diversity or ecosystem diversity, it is a 'convention' that needs to be achieved by the whole society. Although state subjects and non-state subjects have different divisions of responsibilities, the ultimate purpose is to implement the contents of the 'convention." Li Lin, the director of Global Policy and Advocacy of the World Wide Fund for Nature, indicated.

  Change the consumption habit, reverse the downtrend of biodiversity index

  At present, the biodiversity-related index is still decreasing. How should we take positive actions to reverse this situation?

  In fact, biodiversity itself has complexity and richness, which makes it hard to determine the common goal for restoration. "We hope to achieve 'nature tends to a good prospect' in 2030 through conservation and restoration by enhancing the richness and diversity of nature." Li Lin added. Setting a clear goal can guide people to make better efforts.

  It is gratifying that according to the results of a global survey of ecological awakening, there is an escalation of web search and consumption behavior related to biodiversity conservation. It also indicates that the global public's attention to the ecosystem is awakening. People start to take action to purchase more sustainable and greener products.

  Li Lin said that the driving factor behind biodiversity conservation is the productive consumption actions of mankind, in the hope of a reduced ecological footprint and zeroed phenomenon of biodiversity extinction caused by human factors.

  When the public is willing to contribute to the sustainable development of nature, their consumption behavior will also be more environmentally friendly. From Peng Kui's point of view, the GEI project manager and representative of the Citizen Biodiversity Union, if adding sustainable production and promotion of green consumption into biodiversity conservation works, the downtrend of biodiversity can be significantly reversed, but this goal cannot be achieved by a single subject.

  Non-state subjects continue to play the role of bridges and links

  Under the current global biodiversity conservation situation, non-state subjects will continue to play an important role.

  The non-state subjects can assist the government in carrying out works using innovative methods and concepts. They can take flexible action, carry out civil protection actions and advocacy, conduct exploration of implemented practices, and provide the corresponding government subjects with experience and lessons to provide scientific and effective information for government decision.

  Peng Kui said, "We built bridges and platforms to allow the researchers, policymakers and activists to give play to their advantages."

  Li Lin also believed that biodiversity conservation requiring technical, scientific and knowledge support from non-governmental organizations and non-state subjects. Moreover, the non-state subjects can also play a supervisory role. "We are on behalf of the public interest. We have the opportunity to become a supervisor."

  So, what specific actions can non-state subjects take? Jin Jiaman introduced, "GEI carried out the community agreement conservation-oriented biodiversity conservation and sustainable development projects domestically and assisted in the conservation of more than 200,000 hectares of land. Together with 23 environmental organizations, GEI established the 'Social Benefit Protection Area Union', together with 8 institutions, GEI established the 'Citizen Biodiversity Conservation Union', GEI also established the 'China-Africa Civil Platform for Dialogue of Biodiversity', etc."

  Experts and scholars all agreed that at this stage, non-state subjects are exposed to enormous challenges in many aspects, such as policy space, professional competence, resource support and organizational actions, but they are also facing a unique opportunity of the age.

  Peng Kui has confidence in the future: "We believe, under the increasing number of policy supports, the non-state subjects are able to play their advantages, gather strengths from more parties, and gather more extensive consensus to make historical contributions to the ambitious goal of global biodiversity conservation after 2020."