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World Insights: Joint efforts on biodiversity, climate change highlighted at world summit

(Xinhua)    14:12, January 12, 2021

PARIS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Concerted action for protecting the world's biodiversity and for a global climate change governance framework has been highlighted at the One Planet Summit, a virtual event organized by France in partnership with the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank.

The one-day summit brought together 30 leaders, government officials and heads of international organizations.

"EVERYONE MUST DO MUCH MORE"

"Biodiversity represents the natural capital of the world, yet exploitation, pollution and climate change are bringing irreversible damage to ecosystems," the UN said ahead of Monday's summit.

"We have been poisoning air, land and water -- and filling oceans with plastics," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, while addressing the summit.

"Meanwhile, COVID-19 has taken more than 1.8 million lives and devastated economies," he added.

Pandemic recovery is mankind's chance to change course with smart policies and right investments. Biodiversity innovations in energy and transport can lead to sustainable recovery and economic and social transformation, said Guterres.

But the global community has not met any of its biodiversity targets set for 2020, and biodiversity is facing a financing gap of 711 billion U.S. dollars per year until 2030, the UN chief added.

"Our meeting in Kunming, the COP in China this year (the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15), is a vital step in establishing a post-2020 global framework for biodiversity and stopping the extinction crisis," he said.

On climate change, Guterres regretted that today's adaptation efforts account for only 20 percent of climate finance, while only 14 percent of climate finance is dedicated to the least developed countries.

"Everyone must do much more. COP26 cannot be another missed opportunity," he said, referring to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that biodiversity loss is closely linked to the emergence of pandemics. "We need to act urgently, globally and locally," she tweeted, adding that "cooperating for our 'One Planet' is essential for our health."

"We will invest several hundred million euros over the next four years for research on biodiversity, animal health, emerging diseases, and much more," she pledged.

"DEVELOPING COUNTRIES NEED SUPPORT"

At the summit, participants agreed that protecting nature is essential for the fight against climate change.

World Bank Group President David Malpass called for support to the developing countries in drawing up long-term strategies for low-carbon and climate-resilient economies to end their reliance on coal and address biodiversity loss.

The World Bank Group has announced an ambitious target that an average 35 percent of its financing portfolio should have climate co-benefits over the next five years, according to him.

Malpass pledged to continue working together with the private sector, civil society, governments and institutions to help developing countries address climate change and adapt to its mounting impacts.

"Obviously it is right to focus on climate change," said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will host a critical climate summit in Glasgow in November.

"But we won't achieve a real balance with our planet unless we protect nature as well," he added.

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany plans to put 30 percent of land and sea areas under protection by 2030, and called on other countries to do likewise. The commitment sees Germany join over 50 countries in the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC), launched by France.

Merkel also appealed to the global community to stop destroying forests, saying that protecting forests meant protecting people's health.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in his closing remarks, said that nations worldwide had pledged to spend some 14.3 billion U.S. dollars to tackle the climate crisis and environmental degradation at the summit.

The sum is to be spent on the Great Green Wall project to plant trees in the Sahel region in Africa, he said.

Launched in 2007, the Great Green Wall project aims to plant thousands of kilometers of trees spanning the whole width of the African continent to stop the spread of the Sahara desert and counter droughts and famines.

"Africa has a huge number of solutions in hand and our role is to help it so as to help us too," Macron said.

CHINA'S ENDEAVOR

In his address to the summit via video link, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng on Monday urged all countries to make joint and swift efforts to push forward the building of a shared future for all life on Earth.

Noting that this year China will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, and will formulate the post-2020 biodiversity framework to map out a blueprint for biodiversity conservation in the next 10 years, Han said that all parties should work together and act quickly to ensure that the conference achieves positive results.

He also called on all parties to strengthen communication, meet each other halfway, and jointly promote the framework negotiation process.

All parties concerned should study and formulate the post-2020 action targets scientifically to ensure they are rational and enforceable, strengthen enforcement of resource mobilization and guarantees, and effectively enhance the implementation capabilities of developing countries, he added.

China has made remarkable achievements in environmental protection, drawing a red line for ecological protection, setting up a national park system, and implementing major projects for biodiversity protection, Han said.

He noted that China will continue to improve environmental quality and build a beautiful country in accordance with the requirements of high-quality development.

The One Planet Summit was initiated in 2017 with a focus on global climate and environmental governance. The theme of this year's summit was biodiversity conservation.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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