Ecological civilization and mainstreaming – CGTN

Editor’s Note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their perspectives on the events shaping the world today. Oliver Hillel is program manager at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, responsible for engaging states, regions and cities in the work of the convention, and mainstreaming biodiversity into economic sectors and development. The article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Recent scientific studies of global significance, such as the journal Dasgupta and the assessments of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), reveal that our planet is undergoing critical changes that threaten our well-being and our savings over the next few years. . The climate emergency, the pollution of our waters and seas and the brutal loss of nature are making headlines. The last is particularly critical.

The challenge

Since the second half of the 1900s, in my lifetime, humanity has lost about 70 percent of the plants, animals, and fungi we started with. This includes the variety of plants and animals that we depend on for our food, and it means the number of species as well as the number of individuals per species, the biomass.

This is a wake-up call to all, because nature is literally in our bodies – we are, in many ways, ecosystems ourselves, and our health depends on the cycles of nature. We need land and sea parks around us for recreation and immunity; our economies depend on nature thousands of kilometers away and the protected rivers, forests and mountains of neighboring countries. The food and water we need and the air we breathe fundamentally depend on healthy and diverse ecosystems. On the other side of the spectrum, some health aspects of the COVID-19 crisis have been linked to environmental degradation – a realization that has led to the United Nations’ One Health approach.

Scientific studies go further. They prove that the ultimate causes of these challenges may be related less to the inability of our governments to take care of the environment and more to the way we collectively buy services and products, invest and spend resources, as well as ‘how we borrow or earn our money.

As a species, we spend far more money over-exploiting nature the way we produce, “borrowing” nature’s free services from capital accounts, than protecting it – like 20 or 30 times more. , depending on country and consumption levels. For our habits to help us become stewards of nature, we need to change and rethink our economies and finances, our production and consumption patterns. This understanding is at the heart of the concept of mainstreaming biodiversity into economic sectors, a benchmark for the UN flagship agreement on nature, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), signed by 196 parties, including the China.

As part of its growing role in the international agenda, China was elected to host and chair the 15th meeting of the CBD’s highest decision-making body, the Conference of the Parties or COP15, launched on October 11, 2021, and with a second in-person installment announced for April and May 2022 in Kunming City, Yunnan Province.

What is integration

In the context of the convention, national governments propose mainstreaming as “integrating, as far as possible and appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programs and policies”.

Very concretely, this means that the mandates and work of important ministries such as those responsible for planning, economy, trade, finance, regional development, agriculture, energy and infrastructure, among others, should take into account the implications, impacts and dependencies of their decisions on nature, in consultation with the ministries of the environment and sustainable development.

Integration also involves different levels of government depending on the extent of their responsibilities: national, subnational at the landscape and seascape level, and local. The work is different at the urban, rural and inland or coastal level.

View of the media center of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, in Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, October 12, 2021. / Xinhua

View of the media center of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, in Kunming, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, October 12, 2021. / Xinhua

Finally, integration also requires the involvement and cooperation of all actors, so that their interests are taken into account, that synergies are explored and that contributions are supported. Governments at all levels are legislators, regulators and facilitators; businesses and finance must change their codes and standards; academics and experts are needed to assess, measure, report, provide solutions and build capacity. Affected residents and local communities can help demand change where it is needed, offer solutions, and help monitor and report. Women, youth, indigenous peoples and local communities contribute their knowledge and resources and help to co-manage land, water and sea. NGOs are needed to assess and inform on impacts and dependencies, on how to consume and invest, and to facilitate cross-sectoral and vertical cooperation and partnerships.

Economic actors have already learned the value of nature. The loss of biodiversity, the many and complex risks it poses to our businesses and our finances, and the means of integrating nature into all sectors to reverse this loss are now a major subject in board meeting rooms. administration, in strategic reports provided to insurance companies. , and in the products and services offered by consulting and auditing companies. In fact, integration requires exactly the kind of integrated thinking that permeates the concept of ecological civilization, a key concept chosen as the theme by China for COP15.

Working within the framework of the UN flagship multilateral agreement on biodiversity, I see how important it is for national governments to realize the dependencies of our peace and stability and our economies and finances on range of living things, ecosystems and genetic resources on Earth, and the benefits and services they provide to all. I also realize the timeliness and timeliness of the Chinese leadership of the Life on Earth convention, and the proposed theme for the meeting in China’s most biodiverse province.

A leadership role for China

A megadiverse country of global importance, China was one of the first to ratify the convention less than a year after it was signed in Rio in 1992. One of the central aspects of COP15 is the adoption of a 10-year global biodiversity framework, a set of goals and targets that will guide the efforts of all member governments and the UN agencies that support them. A long-term approach to mainstreaming and strategies for building capacity and mobilizing financial resources to support these goals are among the expected decisions.

In preparing for the conference, it became clear that China can play an important global leadership role on these issues.

Due to its high rates of urbanization and development, China has developed responses to many of the relevant challenges of integration. The progress made in greening the Belt and Road Initiative and advanced guarantees from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are good examples. As the focal point of the convention, the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment organized meetings on the elements of biodiversity in South-South cooperation and urban development. South-South cooperation can open new doors for green economies.

National governments have already identified the sectors that most affect biodiversity. At COP13, decisions were taken regarding the sectors of agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism; energy and mining, infrastructure, health, manufacturing and distribution were discussed at COP14. The financial community, a complex set of actors across public and private interests, is also clearly involved. Other critical players include the lifestyle sector (fashion and cosmetics), innovation and information technology, as well as media, communication and advertising. China has biodiversity champions in all of these areas, as well as on sustainable design, research and development cooperation.

The national governments that we serve in the convention need the commitment and support of Chinese stakeholders to implement the goals of the convention and the Global Biodiversity Framework. Many United Nations agencies in which China leads, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are implementing substantial integration plans and strategies. The country’s river restoration and green urban development approaches, such as sponge cities, have gained international recognition. We need best practices from China, both in transition and in transformation.

At the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, we stand ready to support the best Chinese examples of green and circular economic approaches. Sharm’s Kunming Agenda for Action is a call to register and showcase progress on commitments and implementation by non-state actors, and a recent NGO forum in preparation for COP15 hosted more of 600 participants from China alone. Mainstreaming biodiversity is both an area of ​​global excellence and an ongoing challenge for China’s future.

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