China's UN Mission hosts virtual event to discuss COP15

Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys cling to each other at the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve. [Photo by XIAO LIN/for]

Chinese officials at the United Nations on Friday updated the international community on their preparation work for a global biodiversity summit scheduled to take place in October in Kunming.

"2021 is a crucial year for global environmental governance. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage, it is important for the international community to reflect on the relations between man and nature," said Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN.

Preparation for the COP 15, or the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, scheduled to take place from Oct 11-24, is "being advanced in an active and orderly fashion," Zhang said.

The ambassador noted Saturday is International Day for Biological Diversity and Friday marks the second International Tea Day. The designation of these two days by the UN General Assembly aims to promote better ecological conservation and global sustainable development, he said.

He hopes the video conference, which also is being held to celebrate the two international days, will contribute to a successful conference in Kunming, a city in Southwest China's Yunnan province.

China's Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu said the Chinese government has always attached great importance to the construction of ecological civilization and biodiversity conservation, and cherishes its importance to sustainable development.

China is actively contributing to international environmental cooperation. Preparation for COP 15 is in full swing, and has made positive progress, the minister said. China negotiated adjusting the days of the conference in a timely manner, and launched the conference's theme, logo, and website, he added.

"There's now less than five months left before the COP 15, but there's still a lot of work to be done. This requires us to have the highest level of political wisdom," Huang said. He emphasized the importance of strengthening solidarity, finding pragmatic solutions, seeking common ground and resolving differences, as well as mobilizing resources.

China will ensure a successful COP 15 and promote the realization of the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature, he added.

The Kunming conference will provide a great opportunity for the international community to explore actions to achieve the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, officials said.

The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will set the direction and goals for global biodiversity conservation in the coming decade, also is expected to be adopted at the COP 15.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said humanity is facing "a triple emergency – biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution."

A healthy planet is critical for achieving the sustainable development goals, yet the world has failed to meet any of the internationally agreed biodiversity targets, Guterres said.

He looks forward to countries finalizing "an ambitious new global framework for biodiversity that can protect nature, restore ecosystems and reset our relationship with the planet" in Kunming.

Volkan Bozkir, president of the General Assembly, commended China and "the like-minded group" for using last year's Biodiversity Summit as a basis for injecting political momentum into the Kunming conference.

"Through recovery from COVID-19 and the incredible resources that are being untapped, as well as upcoming COP-level summits on climate, biodiversity, and land degradation, we have both the resource and policy spaces to push this agenda forward," he said.

About 200 attendees, including more than 30 ambassadors from various UN member states, joined Friday's "COP15: Road to Kunming, Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth" discussion, co-hosted by China's mission to the UN, the secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

Senior diplomats of participating countries praised the co-hosts for organizing the timely event, which deepened their understanding of the upcoming Kunming conference and of biodiversity conservation.

Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees, Egypt's permanent representative to the UN and the chair of COP 14, highlighted the continuous cooperation between China and Egypt to ensure the smooth transition of the presidency of the COP summit.

Barbara Woodward, the UK's permanent representative to the UN, said both President Xi Jinping and the UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson have agreed the countries have a collective responsibility to tackle the issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.

"I look forward to working with all delegations toward the two COPs, and continuing the conversation with China to ensure a mutually-supported outcome," she said, in reference to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will be hosted by the UK.

Zhang stressed the importance of respecting and protecting nature, pursuing sustainable development, and enhancing global environmental governance. He said the international community should uphold multilateralism and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to deepen win-win cooperation.

"The road to Kunming is not only a road to a city, to a summit, but also a road leading us to our future," the envoy said.