Highlights and images for 16 December 2022

Montreal, Canada

China's Role in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development: CBD COP 15 Side Event

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) organized a discussion on China’s Role in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development. The side event took place during the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) in the Palais des Congrès de Montréal.

Several participants underscored the importance of adopting ambitious targets at CBD COP 15, with many highlighting the need for new sources of finance for implementation of the global biodiversity framework (GBF), including from public and private sources. The need to address a triple crisis of climate, biodiversity and debt was also discussed, and many speakers highlighted the value of information exchanges such as through the CCICED to develop ideas and trust for addressing shared challenges.

Zhang Yujun, Deputy Secretary General, CCICED, and Director General, Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China, welcomed participants, emphasizing that the international community has high expectations for CBD COP 15.

Zhang Yujun -  - CCICED at CBD COP 15 - 16 Dec 2022-  Photo

Zhang Yujun, Director General, Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center, Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China

Opening Remarks

Huang Runqiu, Executive Vice Chairperson, CCICED, and Minister of Ecology and Environment of China, highlighted China’s development through a “green and low-carbon” model that prioritizes biodiversity, and shared some good practices for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in China. Noting this is the 30th anniversary of the founding of CCICED, he said the Council has played an important role in Chinese sustainable development policy. He expressed hope that CCICED will continue to strengthen communication, and exchange ideas and learn from each other with respect to best practices for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development, and the green transformation.

Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China  - CCICED at CBD COP 15 - 16 Dec 2022-  Photo

Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China

Steven Guilbeault, Executive Vice Chairperson, CCICED, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, lauded Canada and China’s work over the past 30 years to advance mutual environmental priorities. He said the world needs to put the same focus on nature loss as it has on climate change, and urged countries to commit to the 30x30 target and reduce biodiversity loss, saying “these are our 1.5 targets.”

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada - CCICED at CBD COP 15 - 16 Dec 2022- Photo

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada

Inger Andersen, Vice Chairperson, CCICED, and Executive Director, UN Environment Program (UNEP), emphasized the need to agree to a transformational framework that speaks to all parts of government and the whole of society, and to address the four drivers of biodiversity loss. She underscored that financing is key and highlighted the need for additional resources. Acknowledging the progress China has made in protecting biodiversity, with support from CCICED, she is keen to see how China moves forward on implementation.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Program (UNEP)  - CCICED at CBD COP 15 - 16 Dec 2022-  Photo

Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Program 

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CCICED Council Member and CBD Executive Secretary, lauded China’s commitment and leadership in biodiversity conservation. Underscoring that China has contributed a quarter of the world’s new forest area in the past decade, she called for China to share its experience with all Parties and scale up conservation to achieve its 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity  - CCICED at CBD COP 15 - 16 Dec 2022-  Photo

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity

Outlook for an Ambitious and Pragmatic Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Marco Lambertini, CCICED Member and Director General, WWF International, underscored that this meeting represents an historic opportunity to set the world on the right course to address the biodiversity crisis. He emphasized the need for more funding from multiple sources for biodiversity, as well as more funding to the Global South, and emphasized the need to halt or reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. He supported a restoration goal that is not less ambitious than existing commitments and, saying a weak GBF is not an option, called for a clear implementation mechanism and the opportunity to strengthen action over time. 

Bruno Oberle, CCICED Member and Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), emphasized that nature is the ultimate infrastructure on this planet and is more vital than highways, electrical lines, or trains because it is the infrastructure that allows us to survive. He underscored the need to agree on questions such as the size of protected areas, how much we need to restore, and what activities must be undertaken. He also highlighted questions around finance, saying countries that offer bigger parts of the infrastructure should receive more money.

Richard Florizone, CCICED Member and President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), underscored that transparency is crucial, as it enables all Parties and stakeholders to shape the final outcome of negotiations, support implementation, and hold each other to account. Underscoring that the level of finance for nature-based solutions (NbS) must increase, he called for tackling environmentally harmful subsidies and said we must stop investing in outcomes we do not want and invest in outcomes we do want. He further highlighted the need to share knowledge and best practices to achieve ambitious and pragmatic change.

Mobilizing Financial Resources for Biodiversity

Marcos Neto, Director of Sustainable Finance Hub, UN Development Programme (UNDP), on behalf of UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, highlighted that the funding gap for addressing biodiversity challenges has been estimated to be over USD 500 billion and stressed the need for: new finance instruments and innovations; addressing the harmful ways current financing affects biodiversity; providing ODA as well as other funding; and ensuring national governments have fiscal space. He said removing subsidies offers the biggest opportunity to close the gap, but it should be done in a smart way that avoids unintended impacts.

Christie Ulman, CCICED Member and President, Sequoia Climate Foundation, noted that climate has been a main driver for biodiversity loss and NbS provides opportunities to address both. She highlighted the potential for CCICED to foster further south-south and south-south-north cooperation to address the intertwined challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and development.

Jennifer Morris, CCICED Member and CEO, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), recalled that the adoption of the Paris Agreement signaled that the “direction of travel” should be for a low-carbon economy and said CBD COP 15 is the moment to signal that the direction of travel for the economy should be “nature positive.” She said we need to address three crises – biodiversity, climate, and debt – and that debt conversions are a way to address them.

Aniruddha (Ani) Dasgupta, CCICED Member and President and CEO, World Resources Institute (WRI), emphasized the need for a transformational shift of economies. He noted that we cannot achieve the Paris Agreement 1.5o C target without addressing nature, and said we need innovation to blend the finance we need to address the USD 500 billion funding gap.

The Role of CCICED and Other Multilateral Cooperation Platforms in Promoting Global Biodiversity Governance

Scott Vaughan, CCICED International Chief Advisor and former President and CEO, IISD, highlighted that much of CCICED’s value is in the opportunities it provides to learn from each other. He said eleven groups are currently considering shared challenges with a focus on implementation. He looked forward to the Third Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation in 2023, which he said would move the focus from stopping doing environmentally harmful things to considering how to accelerate the green transition. He also called attention to increasing economic turbulence due to looming debt and noted the need to look at alignment between debt, nature and climate.

Zhang Hongjun, CCICED Member, Board Chair of the Energy Foundation China, and Partner, Holland Knight LLP, recalled that CCICED has provided many recommendations to China and said China can now provide policy recommendations to other developing countries. He suggested building more cooperation with the private sector and engaging in discussions with individuals who are not familiar with China.

Eric Schwaab, Senior Vice President of People and Nature, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), stressed the need for an integrated approach, noting in particular the need to reform and invest in solutions for negatively reinforcing climate loops in food systems. He said any country with a good 30x30 plan should be supported for implementing it, while adding that the plans should extend to the surrounding area of the protected area to ensure community needs are met and the plans will be durable. He stressed the importance of partnerships that leverage both public and private actors, and closed highlighting the need for benefits for climate, nature and people.

Closing Remarks

Zhao Yingmin, CCICED Secretary General and Vice Minister, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China, noted that we are facing complex global issues and need partnerships such as CCICED to strengthen our efforts. He highlighted the need to pursue solutions that can be widely accepted by all while tackling challenges that are faced around the world. He highlighted that sufficient financing is a critical factor and new resources and private sector financing needs to be integrated. He emphasized the need to bring biodiversity to the mainstream and to actively mobilize all parties. He looked forward to further publicizing CCICED’s achievements and extending the partnership.

Zhao Yingmin, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China

Zhao Yingmin, CCICED Secretary General and Vice Minister, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China

Stephen de Boer, Assistant Deputy Minister, International Affairs Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), summarized the discussion, noting calls for integrated approaches and mainstreaming biodiversity issues through our economies as well as for focusing on the requirements for implementation. He closed the side event by noting that CCICED has had an impact by bringing together experts from around the world to discuss challenges and ideas for moving forward.  

Stephen de Boer - International Affairs Branch (LAB),Environment and Climate Change Canada

Stephen de Boer, International Affairs Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada

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