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Global Biodiversity Conservation: China’s Role And Efforts

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Editor’s note: Lu Zhi is a professor at the School of Life Sciences, Peking University. The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Both the IPBES’ 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the 5th edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook that has just been released by the United Nations (UN) show that global biodiversity continues to decline, 75 percent of the Earth surface and 66 percent of the ocean have been changed due to human activities, and none of the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have been fully met at the global level.

On the current trajectory of human development, biodiversity and the services it provides will continue to decrease, jeopardizing the delivery of sustainable development goals. If the world goes on with “business as usual,” this trend of decline will not cease until 2050 and beyond, due to the increasing impacts of changes in land and ocean uses,  resource overexploitation, climate change, pollution, and invasive species.

These issues are driven by the current unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, population growth and technological development. Declining biodiversity will affect the sustainable development of all people and all countries, and reduce the quality of human life and well-being.

A transformation is an urgent need. The UN Summit on Biodiversity on September 30 is to further discuss the 2030 targets under the framework of the CBD and feasible mechanisms to implement it, including the commitments of governments around the globe.

The percentage of the lands and oceans on Earth to be conserved by 2030 will be the focus of discussions at the UN Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), which is scheduled to take place in Yunnan in 2021 and conservation planning for the “Half Earth” has also been suggested.

A set of ambitious yet feasible targets and practical measures to match them, including a paradigm shift in development, will be the key. This is the consensus that has been reached.

However, the difficulty still lies in how to mainstream biodiversity, that is, to integrate biodiversity conservation into state governance and the development of all industries so that biodiversity conservation can be truly implemented throughout economic and social development. This requires the engagement and practical actions of government, enterprises, society and the public altogether.

Developing countries possess a majority of global biodiversity, so they need to assume greater responsibility for biodiversity conservation.

However, many of these countries have limited capacity on their own, so shared responsibilities and global collaborations are essential, especially the support and assistance of North and South in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

China is unique in its biodiversity as it is the only country out of the 12 mega biodiverse countries outside the tropics.

In recent years, China has made commendable progress in the field of biodiversity conservation, with both government investments and citizen awareness rising steadily. Valuable experiences have been accumulated in spatial planning for land use, forest protection and restoration, and species protection.

For example, policies such as the protection of natural forests and “Grain to Green” have significantly increased China’s forest area. Populations of endangered species such as the Tibetan antelope, the giant panda, the crested ibis and the snow leopard have grown substantially.

The natural reserve system as a percentage of the land area has reached over 18 percent. A series of systematic plans and policies, such as the determination of the priority functional areas, the ecological red lines and the ecological compensation mechanism for key ecological functional areas, have been attempted to address the fundamental issue of spatial balance between conservation and development, and financial incentives for conservation.

In recent years, civil society and enterprises in China have also actively participated in conservation governance in both rural and urban areas.

These knowledge and practical experiences could be China’s contribution to global biodiversity conservation and are worthy of promotion worldwide. That being said, China still faces challenges such as inadequate basic research, lack of reliable data and human capacity, regional disparities and imbalances in development and biodiversity conservation.

Besides, there is an urgent need to establish a consensus among the general public on consumption patterns and lifestyles that are healthy, eco-friendly and sustainable. The protected areas’ management system and its effectiveness also need to be improved, especially for wetlands, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

In the meantime, China, as a big country and the host of COP 15, has an important role to play in transforming global biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. It is now in the position to facilitate global dialogue and actions on better global governance and cooperation among countries, especially on the mechanisms of collaboration between North and South and learning from the experiences of the UN Climate Convention.

The speech made by Chinese President Xi Jinping showed such a willingness and determination of the Chinese government. As a biodiversity researcher and conservationist, I sincerely hope that the trend of biodiversity decline will be reversed in the near future. This is China’s responsibility, and also the responsibility of each and every one of us.

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WHO Spokesperson Reveals Details Of Its Expert Team Visit To Wuhan

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Even as vaccines are rolled out, COVID-19 continues to ravage the world, having caused nearly 2 million deaths. The situation is in dire need of stronger global cooperation. That spirit can be at least reflected by the latest World Health Organization (WHO) expert team’s visit to China which will start in Wuhan, where the first cases of infections in China were reported.

“This is about understanding what happened so that the world can be better equipped as the world to prevent it happening again,” said WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris in an exclusive interview with CGTN host Tian Wei. She stressed that the field trip is “not about finding someone to blame. Let’s leave the politics out of it.”

Dr. Harris revealed that preparations about the mission started last October. There were a few virtual meetings held since then. This trip will be about a wide variety of subjects related to the discovery research of the origins of COVID-19. While no quick answers are expected.

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The WHO team of 10 experts from 10 different countries are expected to visit the Chinese city Wuhan, where cases of infections were first reported at the end of 2019. Yet later discoveries found the presence of the virus in Spain, Italy and the U.S., demonstrating how much is still unknown about the virus.

While the world is bogged down by this pandemic, there appear a few COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have been developed at unprecedented speed. But that very fact has made people uneasy: was it developed too fast? Are those vaccines trustworthy?

“People should be concerned about the safety issues,” noted Dr. Harris, but she explained that one thing that has really slowed down vaccine development in the past was getting the funding for the studies, and this time that part got ample support.

Harris said that only after very careful review of data on issues of safety and efficacy, and visiting manufacturing factories, would the WHO put a vaccine on its Emergency Use Listing (EUL). So far only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the validation at the end of last year, but more announcements could be made as soon as in the next few weeks, according to Harris. Among those are candidates coming from Sinopharm and Sinovac, two Chinese vaccine developers.

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The COVAX program was set up by the WHO with GAVI, the vaccine alliance, to help distribute vaccines to more countries. China joined COVAX last year.

Out of the 42 countries that are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, 36 are high-income countries and six middle-income countries. “So there’s a clear problem that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.

“We are not happy that it’s not happening quickly enough,” said Harris, “but we determined to make it happen.”

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international platform for debate and intelligent discussion. It is the meeting point of both the highly influential and rising voices, facilitated by host Tian Wei. It provides nutrition to form your own thoughts and ideas through a 45-minute live debate and interviews.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

Time (GMT): 1415, 2015

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)

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AIIB Fifth Anniversary Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Celebrates Fifth Anniversary With Eye On Green Post-Pandemic Recovery

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, known as the AIIB, is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Today, the organization has doubled the number of members it had when it launched in Beijing back in 2016, making it the second largest of all multilateral banks. In the face of new global challenges, not least of all COVID-19, the AIIB is currently undergoing a transformation. Feng Yilei has more.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is re-thinking its strategy, from financing traditional infrastructure, to looking ahead to the future.

The international development bank has identified key emerging infrastructure trends that will drive the future of investment in previously overlooked areas.

The new focus? Infrastructure that is green and human-centred, with an eye on technology while enhancing connectivity.

The shift takes place in the context of COVID-19, which experts say has exposed weaknesses in infrastructure of many economies.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “At this juncture, it is important to point out that efforts to foster our health system as well as address climate change can no longer be dealt with in silence. We need to promote the intricate emerging pattern of the relationship between climate and health care problems. Rebooting the global economy will require that we no longer tackle challenges in isolation.”

The AIIB’s plans are laid out in its “Next-10-year Corporate Strategy” which establishes clear priorities and ambitious targets in its overall share of financing-50 percent for climate action by 2025, 25 to 30 percent for cross-border connectivity by 2030, and 50 percent for private sector operations by 2030.

In the medium-to-long term, the bank’s next chapter includes not just expanding into social infrastructure, but also ramping up investment in digital infrastructure, especially in less-developed regions.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “New infrastructure development boosted by new technologies will bring for immediate benefits and pay off in the long term. Global trade will eventually open up, and those countries who invest smartly would be ready to capitalize on those opportunities. Indeed, there will be, in my view, and overhaul of the existing structure to meet the needs of the digital era.”

As global policy makers struggle with the current global health crisis and its immediate aftermath, experts say it is imperative for multilateral development banks, such as the AIIB, to work with the private sector to mobilize much needed investment.

They say a key challenge is to leverage more international capital from the private sector or commercial banks that eye returns.

JIN LIQUN President of AIIB “To a certain extent, it’s not so easy to find common ground, but it’s possible. Private sector investors may not necessarily look at the highest returns when they know that by working with MDBs, actually, they have safety of their resources. And also with enhanced responsibility, they would love to work with MDBs.”

FENG YILEI Beijing “Over the past half a decade, the president of the AIIB says he has witnessed the progress in terms of how development bank operates, including its policies, regulations, staffing and institutional environment.”

Challenges brought about by the pandemic have accelerated change in the overall development of multilateral development banks. The AIIB says it has gained critical experience and the opportunity to further evolve its business model, to play a central role in the stability of global finance. Feng Yilei, CGTN, Beijing.

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What Drives China’s Success In 2020?

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factors driving China’s success in its epic battle against COVID-19 pandemic and poverty last year.

‘People first’

Under Xi’s command, the constant theme of China’s war against coronavirus has been “people first.”

“The people’s safety and health always come first, and thus the prevention and control of the outbreak is the country’s most important work for now,” said Xi on his meeting with visiting World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last January.

Stressing CPC is the most reliable backbone for Chinese people in times of trouble, Xi ordered the use of the entire country’s resources to tackle the pandemic, which is also an advantage of China’s socialist system.

As a result, China has emerged among the first countries to contain the virus, reopen the economy safely, and restore economic growth. The country’s GDP is expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan (about $15.38 trillion) in 2020, with per capita GDP reaching $10,000.

Meanwhile, China has sent 36 medical expert teams to 34 countries and offered help for 150 countries and 10 international organizations to fight the virus, echoing President Xi’s call for building a community of common health for mankind.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be made a global public good, which will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries, Xi announced in May at the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly.

‘No one should be left behind’

On November 23, as southwest China’s Guizhou Province cleared all the names on its poverty list, China had eradicated absolute poverty and regional poverty.

At a symposium on securing a decisive victory in poverty alleviation in March, Xi said lifting all rural residents living below the poverty line out of poverty by 2020 is a solemn promise made by the CPC Central Committee and it must be fulfilled on time.

Xi put poverty relief center in front of his governance and spent the most energy on it. During his domestic inspections last year, Xi often went to the frontline to supervise poverty relief efforts.

“No one should be left behind on the road of socialism,” Xi said in May. “Everyone should be on the path toward a moderately prosperous society in all respects and common prosperity.”

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