China prepares draft biodiversity declaration ahead of summit

What’s happening? China will call on countries to acknowledge the importance of biodiversity to human health and will endorse Chinese Communist Party slogans relating to the protection of natural ecosystems, in a draft declaration submitted to the United Nations. China anticipates the “Kunming Declaration” will be agreed by all parties ahead of the COP 15 summit on global biodiversity, due to take place in October. The draft cites the key Chinese Communist Party concept of “ecological civilisation” and calls on parties to “mainstream” biodiversity protection in their decision-making. (Reuters)

What’s COP15? You’ve probably seen news about the upcoming COP26 conference due to take place in November – but what about COP15? The UN COP15 summit is aimed at negotiating a global treaty focused on the protection of nature and biodiversity loss, in a similar fashion to the Paris Agreement which aims to address climate change.

Why does this matter? Cementing progress in the run-up to, and during, COP15 is important, considering not even one of the UN’s Aichi 10-year biodiversity goals set in 2010 were achieved. China is expecting for all international parties to sign the “zero draft” ahead of the virtual discussions in October, with the aim of securing a global treaty next year. The summit has been delayed three times due to the pandemic and will be held in two phases: a virtual opening session between 11 and 15 October followed by in-person negotiations from April 2022.

Why is biodiversity so important? Functioning, biodiverse environments carry obvious ecological importance for wildlife populations. The destruction of some environments, such as rainforests, also exacerbates climate change through the release of additional CO2 emissions. Biodiversity also plays a fundamental role in ensuring stability in key industries including global food production, and forms the basis for almost all economic activities. Inaction on biodiversity conservation could risk around $44tn – or around half of the world’s GDP.

China’s draft declaration states the importance of protecting biodiversity on account of human health – an idea we’ve discussed before.

The UN recently released a draft agreement targeting biodiversity loss through several aims likely to be discussed at COP15, including plans to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030. Other proposals to be considered include regulations to eliminate plastic pollution, the halving of invasive species and the removal of government subsidies from environmentally destructive practices.

Corporate compliance – In addition to growing pressure for country-level biodiversity commitments, biodiversity protection is starting to become an important area that companies must overcome in the same way they are being called upon to reduce emissions to mitigate climate change. There are tools to facilitate this – BNP and CDP recently joined forces to offer a corporate biodiversity reporting framework, with the aim of integrating biodiversity data into business and investment decisions. The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures also released a framework in June to help financial institutions measure their impact on biodiversity.

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