China vows to include biodiversity in economic plans as UN talks begin

Drug trial: An engineer shows an experimental vaccine to treat COVID-19 tested at the quality control laboratory of Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing on April 29. (AFP/Nicolas Asfouri). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUNMING, Oct 11, 2021, Reuters. China will incorporate biodiversity protection in the development plans of all of its regions and sectors and draw up a national conservation strategy, Vice Premier Han Zheng said at the opening of U.N. biodiversity talks on Monday, Reuters reported.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Protection, told the opening of the meeting in the city of Kunming, that the world had reached “a moment of truth” when it comes to protecting its ecosystems.

China has vowed to make protecting nature a priority after decades of rapid development and urbanisation devastated ecosystems, put dozens of species on the brink of extinction and raised the risk of lethal zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.

The biodiversity talks, known as “COP15”, are aimed at building momentum for the signing of a new global biodiversity treaty on reversing massive species loss after countries failed to achieve any of the targets set in Aichi, Japan, in 2010.

After an opening ceremony featuring an ethnic minority musical performance and a film lauding the safe migration of 15 Asian elephants across southwest China this year, Han said China would “make sure its important species and ecological resources were fully protected”.

Han said countries had to look for new funding channels for conservation and had to give full priority to biodiversity protection in infrastructure and land use.

Mrema said the world had not achieved the necessary breakthroughs from 2011-2020 and was not yet able to safeguard ecosystems key to human wellbeing.

This round of the “COP15” talks will last until Friday. A post-2020 biodiversity pact is expected to be finalised during the second round in April-May next year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to address the conference remotely on Tuesday.

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