From October 11 to 15, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) themed "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth" was held in Kunming. Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech entitled "Working Together to Build a Community of All Life on Earth", which provides theoretical guidance for advancing and formulating a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and envisioned a new blueprint for global biodiversity governance. This speech also provides a new direction towards civilization and progress for transforming human society from the era of industrial civilization to the era of ecological civilization, and building a beautiful homeland on earth where man and nature live in harmony.
From the crisis of man and nature to harmonious coexistence-Promote the modernization of biodiversity governance system and governance capabilities
President Xi pointed out that when we take care to protect nature, nature rewards us generously; when we exploit nature ruthlessly, it punishes us without mercy.
Biodiversity is the material basis for human survival, the green cornerstone of national ecological security, as well as the foundation of the development of ecological civilization. However, due to the increasing impact of human activities on earth and its biosphere, factors such as climate change, habitat destruction, invasion of alien species, excessive logging and environmental pollution have seriously affected the survival of earth's biological species, with the accelerating loss of biodiversity. The criticality of biodiversity is approaching, and the ecosystem will also enter an endangered state. What’s more serious is that the increasing threat of climate change is becoming a “strong catalyst” for the loss of biodiversity, and this loss has changed the function of nature to adapt to climate change, which in turn has accelerated the pace of global climate change. These two global crises are superimposed on each other and are accelerating the change of natural evolution.
If nature is systematically destroyed, human survival and development will become water without source and wood without root. Western ideas and concepts place more emphasis on the protection of the objective natural world, and indirectly suppress the development space of developing countries through hegemony and political means. This governance model fails to balance the relationship between human and nature, and fails to balance the interests of developed countries and developing countries. It also fails to break through the original development path and is doomed to failure.
Chinese civilization advocates the unity of nature and human, follows the course of nature, and pursues the philosophy of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. President Xi proposed from the perspective of system theory and Chinese philosophy that man and nature should live in harmony, and emphasized that we need to have a deep reverence for nature, respect nature, follow nature’s laws and protect nature, so as to build a homeland of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. The concept of "the coexistence of man and nature in harmony" grasps the balanced relationship between man and nature from the system dimension and based on the equality of all lives, takes into account all elements of natural ecology, and enhances the circulation capacity of the ecosystem and the balance of the ecological system.
Therefore, the transformation from contradiction between man and nature to harmonious coexistence of man and nature can not only maintain the balance of natural ecology, but also obtain development and well-being from the ecological balance, thus achieving the dialectical unity of the two goals. According to the white paper "Conservation of Biodiversity in China", China, with the concept of a community of human and natural lives, regards biodiversity protection as an important part of the construction of ecological civilization, continues to promote the modernization of biodiversity governance systems and governance capabilities. It improves natural ecosystems, enhances ecological services, increases the supply capacity of ecological products and realizes the virtuous cycle of the natural ecosystem, continuously meeting people’s growing demand for a beautiful ecological environment. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, commented that China's proposal of adhering to the harmonious coexistence of man and nature demonstrates its global leadership in biodiversity conservation.
From "Aichi Targets" to "Kunming Declaration"-Promoting the construction of a new blueprint for global biodiversity governance
In June 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the "Convention on Biological Diversity" was opened for signature. In December 1993, the "Convention on Biological Diversity" formally entered into force. From November 28 to December 9, 1994, the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity was held in the Bahamas. The "Convention on Biological Diversity" established the three targets of protecting biodiversity, making sustainable use of its components, and fairly and reasonably sharing the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, thus ushering in a new era of global biodiversity conservation.
In 2010, the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the "Convention on Biological Diversity" was held in Aichi, Nagoya, Japan, and discussed and adopted the 2011-2020 Global Biodiversity Strategy, also known as the "Aichi Targets". However, due to the dilemmas in global biodiversity governance, the decline of biodiversity on a global scale has not been effectively curbed. Many resolutions and strategies of the "Aichi Targets" remain on paper, leading to insufficient strategic resources and there is a huge gap between reality and the targets.
At present, international governance regarding biodiversity has a high deficit, and the governance framework is not yet complete. Faced with the challenges of biodiversity governance after 2020, the world needs to work together to promote the construction of a new order of biodiversity governance. How to maintain a fair and equitable international governance system in global biodiversity governance? President Xi emphasized that we shall take international law as the basis to uphold a fair and equitable international governance system. We need to practice true multilateralism, and effectively honor and implement international rules, which are not to be exploited or discarded at one’s own will. The new environmental protection targets we set need to be ambitious on the one hand and pragmatic and balanced on the other, so as to make the global environmental governance system fairer and more equitable.
When the global governance of biodiversity conservation and the pandemic of the century were intertwined, the historical process of biodiversity governance to maintain global ecological security and civilization development came to Kunming, China. COP15 reviewed and adopted the "Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework" (referred to as the "Post-2020 Framework") on the basis of evaluating the implementation of the 2011-2020 Biodiversity Strategic Plan.
The "Post-2020 Framework" replaces the "Aichi Targets" and becomes the latest programmatic document to guide global biodiversity conservation after 2020. The COP15 conference issued another important outcome, the "Kunming Declaration", calling on all parties to jointly build a community of all life on earth, curb biodiversity loss, enhance human well-being, and achieve sustainable development. The "Post-2020 Framework" and the "Kunming Declaration" are the framework and blueprint for post-2020 global biodiversity governance, with milestone significance for maintaining global ecological security.
From the era of industrial civilization to the era of ecological civilization- building a beautiful home on earth in which all things live in harmony
Since mankind entered the era of industrial civilization, excessive exploitation of natural resources has broken the balance of the earth's ecosystem, leading to accelerated loss of biodiversity, and the crisis between man and nature has entered a negative feedback loop. The foundation for the preservation and continuation of civilization lies in the material and energy balance between the two major systems of the subjects and objects of civilization. The crisis between man and nature marked by the loss of biodiversity and climate crisis has approached the critical point of the system, endangering the survival and development of all human civilizations. How to properly handle the relationship between man and nature is an epochal proposition for human beings to achieve sustainable development in the 21st century. To promote the construction of a new pattern and new balance of interaction between the subjects and objects, the two major systems of civilizations, the fundamental way out is the transformation of the development modes of civilizations.
The prosperity of ecology leads to the prosperity of civilization, and the decline of ecology leads to the decline of civilization. Looking back through the dust of history, President Xi profoundly pointed out that the ecological environment is the foundation of human survival and development, and changes in the ecological environment directly affect the prosperity and decline of civilizations. Therefore, we need to solve the problems brought by industrial civilization, and keep human activities within the limits of the ecology and environment. President Xi clearly pointed out that ecological civilization represents the development trend of human civilization. This important thought not only points out the fundamental solution to the dilemma of global environment governance and biodiversity governance, but also offers new theoretical guidance for humanity to deal with the relationship between human and nature in the 21st century. Therefore, the scientific path for humanity to handle the crisis is to change the ways of production, living and development since industrial civilization, to promote the modernization of the harmonious coexistence between man and nature, and to build a community of all life on earth to respond to the global crisis of biodiversity loss.
This is what China says, as well as what it does. China attaches great importance to the practice of biodiversity conservation. It constantly promotes the establishment of nature reserves, moves faster to establish a protected area system with national parks as the mainstay, and takes the lead in the world to propose and implement the red line system for ecological protection. The Chinese initiative of “drawing a red line for ecological protection to mitigate and adapt to climate change” has also been selected by the United Nations’ "Nature-Based Solutions". China announced at COP15 that it would take the lead by putting in 1.5 billion yuan to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund to support biodiversity conservation in developing countries; to promote the achievement of carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals. China will build a "1+N" policy system in terms of carbon peak and carbon neutrality. China continues to establish and improve its biodiversity protection policy and regulation system, formulates corresponding mid- and long-term programs and action plans, and adheres to ecological priority and green development. It unremittingly improves the legal system for ecological environment protection, continuously strengthens regulatory mechanisms, and greatly increases basic capabilities. A new pattern of biodiversity governance has basically taken shape.
The COVID-19 pandemic once again reveals that mankind and earth are a community of shared destiny, and the design and formulation of a global biodiversity governance framework is an important part of the construction of global ecological civilization. Facing the global natural crisis of biodiversity loss, it is urgent for countries around the world to seek common ground while reserving differences, to be open, inclusive and cooperative, to jointly build the foundation of ecological civilization, to take the path of green development, to build a beautiful home on earth in which all lives exist in harmony, and to promote sustainable prosperity of human society with the transition from the era of industrial civilization to the era of ecological civilization.
Contributed by Tang Xinhua, Deputy Director and Associate Researcher of the Climate Change and Ecological Security Research Center of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations
Translated by Wu You