There’s been some good news recently when it comes to the topic of biodiversity: the conservation status of endangered species like the giant panda and Tibetan antelope went from “endangered” to “vulnerable” and “near threatened.”
Despite the progress that China has made in biodiversity conservation, biodiversity protection is still a pressing issue in the country, said Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary General of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation.
Only by promoting ecological civilization can mankind solve the crises of biodiversity degradation, he told Beijing Review. Zhou thinks the biodiversity emergency, as well as climate and public health catastrophes, is a result of the excessive exploitation of the environment spurred on by industrial development. Consequently, it is of the most urgent importance to alter the people’s modes of life and production.
Two years ago, the foundation wrote to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and suggested it should include ecological civilization in the topical framework of the 15th meeting of its Conference of the Parties (COP15).
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, China has been prioritizing eco-environmental progress and pursuing green development under the guidance of Xi Jinping thought on ecological civilization. That pursuit has stimulated a whole new pattern of biodiversity conservation to take shape in the country, including improvements to supervision mechanisms and governing capacity for ecological conservation.
It has also made some significant achievements in the legal system, Zhou added. The government has revised the Environmental Protection Law and has twice amended the Law on the Protection of Wildlife. It has also updated the endangered species list, which had not been revised in decades.
However, the most fundamental development is the engagement of the nation’s people in biodiversity protection. The Chinese people’s understanding of eco-diversity takes the lead in the world as the word “biodiversity” is mentioned more frequently in Chinese media than it is in any other country, Zhou explained.
Based on the concept of ecological civilization, the first clause we proposed to CBD for the COP15 is to highlight the participation of the people, who now care about crises imposing detrimental effects on their habitats and the Earth’s ecosystem, the expert on biodiversity said.
“We can see the public leading the way in biodiversity conservation, for example by volunteering,” he said, adding people can start protecting biodiversity in their neighborhood through day-to-day practices.
“The meeting provides a platform for the exchange of various concepts in this regard, for instance, the 30x30 goal,” Zhou said. The goal refers to the protection of 30 percent of land and marine environments to buffer them from other threats. Also, it’s easier to protect an environment from destruction than it is to regenerate an environment that’s already been degraded. Nevertheless, on the opposite side of the spectrum, increasing the number of protected areas for nature preservation could result in land grabs and human rights violations.
It is common to have disagreements on these occasions, demonstrating just how everyone expects the meeting to open up a new chapter in biodiversity conservation, Zhou said. “Through those communications, I hope to learn about new technologies, ideas and practices for biodiversity protection, which will help them improve their efforts.”
“After the conclusion of the COP15, we will continue to discuss, practice, report and analyze the framework released to help the COP15 meeting held in China achieve optimal impact and influence.”
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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