The Chinese government on Tuesday pledged US$ 230 million in a new fund to support biodiversity conservation in developing countries, news media reported.
Along with establishing the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, Chinese President Xi Jinping also announced the creation of several new national parks to cover 230,000 square kilometers (88,800 square miles) of land across China. Officials say the parks will protect nearly 30 percent of the country’s key terrestrial wildlife species, including pandas, tigers and leopards.
“This new fund gets us one step closer to filling the financing gap needed to confront the global biodiversity crisis, which has historically lacked adequate support,” said Xiaohai Liu, chief representative of Conservation International in China. “By expanding its national parks system, China is also putting a focus on conservation efforts domestically, which is particularly important as the country continues to rapidly urbanize and grow.”
The announcement kicked off the first meeting of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which convened 195 countries and the European Union in Kunming, China, to develop a set of global goals — known as the “Global Biodiversity Framework” — that aim to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss over the next decade.
Conservationists praised China’s pledge.
“The Kunming Biodiversity Fund and its initial investment today will provide a much-needed boost for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,” Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan said. “If implemented as planned, China’s expansion of its national parks and renewable energy systems can issue a powerful call for other world leaders to do the same during CBD COP 15 — now and for Part 2 in April 2022 — and over the coming decade.”
The launch of this new fund is the latest major environmental move from Beijing, which recently announced that China would no longer finance coal projects abroad. Coming from the world’s top emitter, China’s divestment from foreign coal plants could be a significant step toward reducing fossil-fuel use globally and decarbonizing humanity’s supply energy, experts say.
“The unprecedented global biodiversity crisis is finally being understood and appreciated as the twin counterpart to the climate crisis, which is increasingly affecting all life on Earth,” Sanjayan said. “We cannot solve one of these challenges without also solving the other.”
Cover image: Qinling golden monkeys grooming, China (© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)