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Overview of China's International Biodiversity Cooperation


Global biodiversity protection requires global cooperation and participation. Recently, President Xi addressed in his video speech at the COP15 Leaders’ Summit that “the international community must enhance cooperation, build consensus and pool strength to build a community of all life on Earth”. He also announced “China's initiative to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing RMB1.5 billion to support biodiversity protection in developing countries”.

It indicates in Biodiversity Conservation in China that “China is an advocate of multilateralism. It engages in extensive cooperation and exchanges, pooling global forces in biodiversity conservation and governance. With the help of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and South-South Cooperation, China has provided support for biodiversity conservation in developing countries”.

China’s action is consistent with its words. China actively participates in and promotes international cooperation in biodiversity conservation. This is an important component of China's achievements in biodiversity conservation and important experience China has contributed. What we share with you today is the history of China's international cooperation in biodiversity conservation, which will definitely provide more ideas for the current and future biodiversity conservation. 

Since the start of the negotiation of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1988, China's biodiversity conservation has achieved remarkable achievements. These achievements are inseparable from the idea of international biodiversity conservation and the trend of nature protection.

Through participating in the negotiation and implementation of international conventions, and implementing a series of multilateral and bilateral cooperation projects, as well as in-depth cooperation with international NGOs engaging in environmental protection, China has gradually formed a relatively complete set of biodiversity protection laws, policies, and protection systems, and contributed to the global biodiversity conservation with Chinese characteristics. 

1 Active implementation of international conventions on biodiversity conservation

Being a contracting party, China actively participates in many international conventions and treaties on biodiversity conservation. China was one of the first countries to participate in drafting and negotiation of CBD and ratify the convention.

In participating in the international negotiations of the CBD as well as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol, China united with the vast majority of developing countries to play important roles in promoting global biodiversity conservation, access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits, the environment of GMOs, and human health and safety, and has actively strived for the benefits for developing countries in establishing financial mechanisms to implement international conventions and seeking international financial aid. 

To implement important decisions of CBD in real earnest, China established a national performance coordination mechanism composed of relevant departments of the State Council in 1993, and established the Inter-Ministerial Joint Meeting for the Protection of Biological Resources composed of 17 departments of the State Council in 2004. In 2011, the National Committee on Biodiversity Conservation was established, which is headed by a Vice Premier responsible for environmental affairs and composed of 25 ministries or departments. This committee coordinates biodiversity conservation across the country. 

In 1994, China Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan was issued by the former Environment Protection Committee of the State Council. China became one of the first countries to issue Action Plan. China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030) was issued with the approval from the State Council in 2010, brought up 8 strategic tasks, 30 priority actions and 39 priority projects.

2 Multilateral cooperation on biodiversity conservation

China is devoted to establishing multilateral cooperation mechanisms for green development under the BRI. The mechanism includes biodiversity protection among countries. Since the BRI was put forward in 2013, China has worked closely with the international community to build a green Belt and Road. China and international partners have jointly established the BRI International Green Development Coalition, which serves as a platform for BRI cooperation on green development. 

To date some 150 Chinese and international partners from over 40 countries have joined the Coalition. BRI Green Coalition includes ten thematic partnerships, one of which is biodiversity and ecosystem management partnership. The Coalition has hosted many events covering a broad range of topics such as ecosystem evaluation and management, business and biodiversity partnership, sustainable agriculture, arid region management and sustainable supply chain.

The BRI Environment Big Data Platform is in the making. The platform has already included biodiversity data from over 100 countries and will provide data support as well as strategies for BRI green development.

A Green Silk Road Envoy Program has been launched to help build up environmental protection capacity for developing countries, providing more than 2,000 training opportunities for environmental protection officials, experts and technicians of over 120 participating countries. The training on biodiversity conservation had more than 600 participants. 

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is a multilateral financial mechanism for the implementation of the CBD, which provides funds for global biodiversity conservation. China is one of the countries with the richest biodiversity in the world. Therefore, protecting China's biodiversity is of great global significance. 

Since the establishment of the GEF in the early 1990s, it has established a close cooperative relationship with Chinese government and invested a lot of money in the protection on China’s biodiversity. According to preliminary statistics, from 1991 to the end of 2020, GEF has provided a total of approximately US$400 million in grants for more than 60 biodiversity conservation-related projects in China. These projects involve nature reserve management, system innovation of national parks, conservation and sustainable use of agricultural genetic resource, protection of forest ecosystems and marine biodiversity, protection of rare and endangered plants and wild animals, wetlands protection, capacity building, etc. 

3 Bilateral cooperation and exchanges on biodiversity

China has established bilateral cooperation and exchanges on biodiversity with the EU, Germany, Italy, Norway, the US, Canada and many other countries and regions. A series of projects have been carried out, including protection of biological species, ecosystem services, climate change, biosafety, scientific research on biodiversity, research and formulation of policies and regulations, institutional capacity building, local demonstration, community participation, publicity and education, awareness raising, etc.

National and regional projects mainly include EU-China Biodiversity Prgramme (ECBP), Sino-German Project “Sustainable Management of Agricultural Biodiversity”, Tianzhu Mountains Biodiversity Conservation Project, Sino-Italian Biodiversity Partnership Project, Sino-Canadian Biodiversity Conservation Project, Sino-Norwegian projects on biodiversity and climate change, capacity building on environmental management, and Dongting Lake’s biodiversity management. In the context of global changes, Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) has partnered with National Science Foundation (NSF) to carry out biodiversity projects. 

Implemented from 2004 to 2012, the ECBP is the largest cooperation project between the Chinese government and the EU in biodiversity. The ECBP was jointly initiated by the EU, UNDP, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the PRC (formerly known as Ministry of Environmental Protection). The ECBP aims to strengthen China's capacity to implement the CBD, establish a biodiversity conservation information and monitoring system, expand biodiversity conservation publicity, and promote the construction of policies and legal systems related to biodiversity conservation in China.

The ECBP has carried out 18 local demonstration projects in western, central and southern provinces of China, and established a common platform for environmental promotion and education, providing a model for bilateral cooperation on biodiversity worldwide. In 2019, Chinese President Xi and the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron reached an important consensus on cooperation in biodiversity conservation and other fields, and jointly issued the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change

Besides, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have established a China-Japan-ROK tripartite policy dialogue on biodiversity under the framework of the China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Environmental Cooperation Mechanism. The three neighboring countries hold regular dialogues on biodiversity conservation issues and carry out academic exchanges and cooperation projects on national governance of biodiversity, invasive species management, protection of rare and endangered species, implementation capabilities of Aichi biodiversity targets.

The environmental protection cooperation between China and ASEAN has also been carried out for years. The two sides jointly implemented the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and cooperated on biodiversity and environmental protection of Lancang-Mekong River. China-Africa cooperation is mainly in the field of climate change and biodiversity conservation, especially on forest ecosystem protection, with regular exchanges carried out.

4 Cooperation with international NGOs

Since the 1980s, some internationally renowned NGOs have worked in China, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Wildilfe Conservation Society (WCS), Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Wetlands International (WI), etc.

China-WWF cooperation began in 1980. The two sides have long-term cooperation in the protection of rare and endangered species, carrying out protection projects for giant pandas and their habitats, for Tibetan antelopes, species endemic to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and gradually expanding their species protection to tigers, cetaceans, sea turtles, migratory waterbirds and other globally significant species.

China and IUCN have cooperated in the construction and management of nature reserves, the establishment of national parks, the protection of rare and endangered species, and the raising of public awareness of biodiversity.

China-WCS cooperation started with the protection of giant pandas, and later focused on the protection of ungulate wildlife in the western Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Pamirs, the cross-border protection of Siberian tigers in the Northeast, the protection of Chinese alligators and turtles in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and the promotion and education of reducing wildlife consumption and trade in South China.

China-CI cooperation is mainly aimed at the construction and management of giant panda reserves in Sichuan and Shaanxi, as well as the infrared camera monitoring and field patrol work of wild Asian elephants, Indochinese tigers and other rare wildlife habitats in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan.

The scale and scope of China’s cooperation with TNC is large, with a heavy investment. Cooperations involve wildlife protection, wetland protection, climate change, etc. The specific projects include the protection of typical wetlands in northwestern Yunnan in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the coastal wetlands of the Chongming Estuary at the mouth of the Yangtze River, and biodiversity conservation cooperation with Mengniu Diary in Inner Mongolia.

The cooperation between China and WI has not only promoted the idea of wetland protection and set up a management system for it, but also established and awarded “wetland schools” in primary and secondary schools across the country, which aroused youngsters’ attention to wetland protection and the love of waterfowl and birds.

Through cooperation with these NGOs, China has introduced internationally advanced concepts, research methods, protection and monitoring technologies for biodiversity conservation. It has yielded good results in protection of endangered species, freshwater and oceans, climate change, forest protection, capacity building for protected areas, wildlife trade, public education and other fields. Such cooperation has played a positive role in promoting biodiversity conservation in China.

As for publicity and promotion, famous people at home and abroad are invited to record TV public service advertisements, calling for ceasing wildlife trade, arousing the attention of Chinese consumers to change their consumption behavior. These activities have directly or indirectly promoted biodiversity conservation in China.

5 Summary

The international cooperation in biodiversity conservation carried out by China is of great significance. Through demonstration and the promotion of cooperative experience, these activities not only contribute to protecting China’s biodiversity, but also greatly promote biodiversity conservation in other countries.

By introducing advanced international concepts, the awareness of biodiversity conservation in China has been improved. As seed capital, international funds have leveraged a large amount of supporting capital investment from the Chinese government to facilitate the implementation of major biodiversity projects. By implementing international projects, the academic and achievement exchanges between China and the world have become more extensive and in-depth.

As a responsible country, China will fulfill the solemn commitment in protecting biodiversity through more in-depth international cooperation in the future.
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