Conserving Biodiversity under the UN Framework
China Today (English)|November 2020
AT the beginning of this year, people around the globe had a multitude of reasons to expect 2020 to be a super year for biodiversity and action on climate change emergencies.
LI NAN

The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the first UN summit on biodiversity at the level of heads of state and government, the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the second extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

However it turns out that the year has been punctuated by raging wild fires, locust attacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeling their destructive impact on our economic and social activities, we have been prompted to rethink our relationship with nature, and ponder over ways to rehabilitate eco-environments and preserve biodiversity, all in the interest of the long-term well-being and development of humankind.

Chinese Practices

In 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity to explore the need for an international convention on biological diversity. Soon afterwards, it established the Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts on Biological Diversity to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Its work culminated in May 1992 with the Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention was opened for signing on June 5, 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and entered into force on December 29, 1993. It has so far been signed by 196 parties.

Aiming toward the vision 2050 on biodiversity of “living in harmony with nature,” the Convention set the objectives for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Under its framework, a number of agreements, decisions, and plans on biodiversity have been produced, and relevant institutions have been improved in fields that include scientific and policy research, implementation for set goals, information sharing, fund allocation, technology transfer, and capacity building for developing countries.

Despite the increased agreements reached by CBD signatories, its secretariat, subsidiary bodies, and other organizations on setting science-based goals, increasing monetary input, and improving implementation mechanisms, the decline in global biodiversity has not been reversed. The Living Planet Report 2020 of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows that the population sizes of vertebrates saw an alarming average drop of 68 percent between 1970 and 2016, with biodiversity loss especially egregious in certain regions like Latin America and the Caribbean, and the populations of some species dwindling disproportionately faster.

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