More than 100 countries have adopted the Kunming Declaration, during the first half of the COP15 UN biodiversity conference (with the second and final part due to take place in the spring).
The document calls on countries to take urgent actions and to mainstream biodiversity in all government decisions in order to reverse its loss by 2030.
China’s environment minister Huang Runqiu said the document wouldn’t be a binding international agreement but would represent political will.
The declaration notes the efforts of many countries to protect 30% of the Earth’s land and sea by 2030. But Li Shuo, global policy advisor at Greenpeace, said it was not clear if China was on board with 30×30: “Beijing should make up its mind soon if it wants to lead from the front.” China announced that by the end of last year its protected areas covered 18% of its land. However, its newly published Five Year Plan for forest and grassland protection only sets the goal of “more than 18%” of land to be protected.
A decade ago, China introduced its ecological redlines policy to protect critical habitats. In a white paper on biodiversity conservation published three days before the conference, the government presented this policy as a contribution to the world’s environmental governance. However, there have been cases of local governments ignoring redlines for the sake of economic development.
Also at the conference, China launched a $232 million biodiversity protection fund for developing countries. Xi said he would welcome contributions from other parties. He also formal established China’s first five national parks, covering 230,000km2, under the new national park-centred system of nature reserves.