-- The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) drew to an end on Friday.
-- Participants have highlighted the China-proposed philosophy of ecological civilization as a guideline to achieve coexistence between human and nature.
-- Facing biodiversity loss at an alarming rate, many countries are urged to translate their conservation plans into actions at COP15.
KUNMING, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations, research institutions and private sectors worldwide have gathered in China, virtually or in person, to navigate transformative changes in biodiversity conservation.
As the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) drew to an end on Friday in China's southwestern city of Kunming, participants have highlighted the China-proposed philosophy of ecological civilization as a guideline to achieve harmonious coexistence between human and nature.
This philosophy has directed the overall development of China, the world's second largest economy, to greener ends. And it starts to gain recognition globally as countries are seeking solutions to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and other crises threatening the survival of humanity.
Aerial photo taken on Sept. 2, 2021 shows a rural road in Dongmiao Township of Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Zhou Hua)
FROM DOMESTIC TO GLOBAL
The philosophy of ecological civilization derives from the Chinese perception, or reflection, of the relationship between man and nature.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his keynote speech at COP15 that "we shall take the development of ecological civilization as our guide to coordinate the relationship between man and Nature. We need to solve the problems brought by industrial civilization, keep human activities within the limits of the ecology and environment, and carry out holistic conservation and systematic governance of mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes, grasslands and deserts."
Xi's remarks underscored the values of nature in decision-making, which resonate with other participants at COP15.
Gretchen Daily, an American environmental scientist at Stanford University, quoted Confucius, a philosopher from ancient China, in her speech at the forum.
Gretchen Daily, professor of Stanford University and fellow of National Academy of Sciences of the United States, delivers a speech via video during the Ecological Civilization Forum of the first part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Oct. 14, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)
"There are three pathways to wisdom: The first is through contemplation, and that is the noblest. The second is through imitation, and that is the easiest. The third is through experience, and that is the bitterest," she said.
She suggested following "Confucius as a guide," calling for taking the "noblest" way to reflect on exploitation of nature without restraint.
"We all know that we can no longer treat nature as free," Daily said.
Ecological civilization that was written into China's Constitution in 2018 has become a unique Chinese approach to green economy on top of ambitious environmental targets. On Wednesday, it was embodied into the Kunming Declaration, the first time that the Chinese philosophy was incorporated into a political document under the framework of the United Nations (UN) multilateral environmental agreement.
The Kunming Declaration is adopted at the High-Level Segment of the first part of 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Oct. 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)
This concept "could serve as a template for guiding the global strategic direction, where we need an ecological balance with our planet," said Dechen Tsering, director of UN Environment Programme's Asia and the Pacific Office.
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
Themed "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth," COP15 is the first global conference convened by the UN to highlight ecological civilization.
It is also viewed as a version of sustainable development with Chinese characteristics, which envisages a new path for China's growth and also inspires other countries to achieve their development goals.
Marco Lambertini, director-general of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International, delivers a speech via video during the opening ceremony of the Ecological Civilization Forum of the first part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Oct. 14, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)
"I think this concept is fundamental because it is deeper than sustainable development," said Marco Lambertini, director-general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International.
"It's putting nature at the heart of our society as recognizing its value as a foundation for our economy, our health, our well-being of individuals. That's a really important and overarching principle and vision," he said.
To practice this philosophy, China has implemented eco-environmental conservation and restoration projects.
According to China's white paper on biodiversity conservation released on Oct. 8, between 2016 and 2020, China had restored 1,200 km of its coastline and 23,000 hectares of seaside wetlands; between 2000 and 2017, China had contributed about 25 percent of global vegetation growth, the biggest share among all countries.
Aerial photo taken on Sept. 8, 2021 shows a wind farm of the Daqing wind power project in Daqing, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)
Meanwhile, China has been increasing its use of renewable energy. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, a Belgium-based international trade association for the wind power industry, China broke the world record for most wind power capacity installed in a single year in 2020, with 52 gigawatts of new capacity.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Oct. 11, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)
"The Chinese government has continued to apply a long-term approach to halt and reverse biodiversity loss with multiple disciplinary teams that can offer evidence-based solutions to address socioeconomic complexities and can provide inclusive and accessible policy directions, including the ecological red line policy, which will enable (people) to build a resilient environment able to adapt to future impacts and shocks," said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
FROM COMMITMENT TO ACTION
Facing biodiversity loss at an alarming rate, many countries are formulating conservation plans. They are urged to translate their commitments into actions at COP15.
A spoon-billed sandpiper forages at Xinyingwan mangrove nature reserve in Danzhou City, south China's Hainan Province, Jan. 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
To promote common development of all countries, China has promised to build a green, low-carbon and circular economic system, better people's well-being, and uphold a fair and equitable international governance system.
China is moving faster to establish a protected areas system with national parks as the mainstay, Xi said in his speech at COP15.
"When you talk about what does 'Beautiful China' mean, in our mind, it's taking these concrete actions and then turning them into protected areas that allow humanity and nature to live together in a mutually sustaining way," said James Roth, senior vice president for Global Policy and Government Affairs at U.S. nonprofit environmental organization Conservation International.
The concept of ecological civilization, Roth said, "really highlights in our view (of) humanity living in harmony with nature."
At COP15, Xi also announced China's initiative to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (233 million U.S. dollars) to support biodiversity protection in developing countries.
Moreover, Xi said China will release implementation plans for peaking carbon dioxide emissions in key areas and sectors as well as a series of supporting measures, and will put in place a "1+N" policy framework for carbon peak and carbon neutrality.
"President Xi is saying that we need to protect that (ecological) civilization as much as anything else. We cannot just build motorways and new towns. We need to produce a balance with nature. I think it is a great value to the world," said Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club.
French writer and sinologist Lea Bessis said that the world can see China's determination on ecological environment through Xi's speech.
"China will thus serve as an example," Bessis said. (Video reporters: Jiang Chao, Yang Yi, Liu Chang; video editors: Lin Lin, Yin Le)■