Conservation expert calls for 'ambitious' biodiversity goals at COP15
Ahead of the upcoming United Nations biodiversity conference in Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, one expert hopes the event could result in "ambitious targets and goals" to preserve nature's ecosystems.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Paul Smith, secretary general of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, one of the largest global plant conservation organizations with over 650 member institutions in over 100 countries, called on political leaders to act.
"I really hope that at COP15 we see governments with ambitious targets and goals for biodiversity," said Smith, referring to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in China.
"It's 28 years now that the Convention on Biological Diversity has been in existence. And against all measures, we're seeing the loss of biodiversity," Smith said.
"And what I hope for, as I say, is that we will see real leadership from our political leaders, a COP15 that will reverse that trend of biodiversity loss," he added
Smith noted that global cooperation on biodiversity preservation is absolutely essential because of existing imbalances.
"For example, 85 percent of the world's botanic gardens are in the northern hemisphere, and very few in tropical regions and the south. So sharing of expertise, training, capacity building, data and knowledge, those are all essential," he said.
Smith, who has been to Kunming several times and worked closely with the Kunming Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, spoke highly of China's idea of "ecological civilization" and highlighted that "China has shown impressive leadership" in biodiversity conservation.
"China has a good record with protected areas and the idea of ecological civilization. I think one of the advantages that China has is that policy making in China seems to be well connected to the science and also to technical input," he said.
"For example, China has run programs on the conservation of plant species with extremely small populations, which is a systematic approach to conserving plants, prioritizing the most threatened species," he said.
"It's great to see Chinese partners and institutions trying to protect every plant species," he added.
Smith believed that China is "in a perfect position to show leadership" on global biodiversity conservation and cooperation.
"China also plays a mentoring and support role for institutions and countries in the global south and developing countries. I hope China has influence with those countries when it comes to setting the policy framework," said he said.