UN Significant UN Summit on Biodiversity Opens in China

A landmark UN summit on protecting biodiversity officially opened in China and online on Monday (11/10), when countries meet to tackle pollution issues and prevent mass extinctions, weeks before the COP26 climate conference.

Beijing, the world’s biggest polluter, has sought to position itself in recent years as a world leader on climate issues following Washington’s withdrawal from its international commitments under former president Donald Trump.

In the trial online starting on Monday afternoon, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are seeking to draw up details of a new document that will set targets for protecting ecosystems by 2030. online this is a preparation before the face-to-face meeting in April.

Disputed is the “30 by 30” plan to grant protection status to 30 percent of land and oceans, a move supported by a broad coalition of countries, as well as a target to stop creating plastic waste.

China has not yet committed to the plan.

Dancers perform outside the venue of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan province, October 11, 2021. (Photo: STR/AFP)

Dancers perform outside the venue of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan province, October 11, 2021. (Photo: STR/AFP)

This year’s COP 15 meeting, held in Kunming, a city in southwest China, was originally set to take place in 2020 and was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction amid human habitation, overexploitation, pollution, the spread of invasive species and climate change.

The CBD has been ratified by 195 countries and the European Union but not by the US, the world’s biggest polluter, with the parties meeting every two years.

Disputes over targets

China last Friday said it had “given high priority to the protection of biodiversity by establishing a network of protected areas and national parks.”

This week in Beijing is expected to reveal a statement known as the Kunming Declaration, which will demonstrate the character of his leadership on environmental issues.

But there remains sharp disagreement over the targets for urgent action over the next decade.

France and Costa Rica are among the coalition backing the initiative to designate 30 percent of the oceans and lands protected by 2030.

But when scientists call for more ambitious protections of half of Earth’s biodiversity, Brazil and South Africa are vehemently opposed.

Another source of tension revolves around financing. Developing countries are asking rich countries to contribute to the costs of their ecological transition.

This issue will be at the heart of the negotiating session which will take place in Geneva in January 2022. [uh/ab]

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