China to invest US$233m in planned biodiversity fund

China calls on and welcomes all parties to make contributions to the fund.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday announced an initiative to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion yuan (US$233 million) in the fund.

The fund will be used to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, Xi said while virtually addressing the leaders' summit at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The weeklong meeting, known as the COP15, kicked off on Monday in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan Province, where diplomats, scientists, and conservationists are meeting to lay the groundwork for a global agreement to halt and reverse the destruction of nature, set to be finalized in May next year.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a shadow over global development and compounded challenges to the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Xi said developing countries, in the face of the dual tasks of economic recovery and environmental protection, "need help and support all the more."

China calls on and welcomes all parties to make contributions to the fund, Xi said.

"We need to strengthen solidarity to overcome difficulties and let people across countries benefit more and in a fairer way from development outcomes and a sound environment, so as to build a homeland of common development of all countries," he said.

China has made remarkable progress in building an ecological civilization, including wildlife protection, said Xi, citing the recent adventure of the wandering elephants across southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The country is moving faster to establish a protected areas system with national parks as the mainstay, Xi said, adding that areas with the greatest importance to the natural ecosystem, and with the most unique natural landscapes, the most valuable natural heritage and the greatest biodiversity reserve will be included in the system.

The country has also started building a system of national botanical gardens in places like Beijing and Guangzhou, he said.

"China will continue to advance ecological progress, stay committed to implementing the new development philosophy emphasizing innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, and build a beautiful China," he said.

"We are living in an era both fraught with challenges and full of hopes," Xi said. "For the sake of our common future, we need to join hands and start a new journey of high-quality development for humanity."

Xi urged efforts to let green transition drive people's efforts to facilitate global sustainable development.

"We need to build a green, low-carbon and circular economic system, translate ecological strengths into development strengths, and bring out the great benefit that green mountains and clear waters can offer. We also need to step up green international cooperation and share the fruits of green development among all countries," said the president.

Other leaders who spoke to the summit on Tuesday included Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Papua New Guinea's James Marape and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

First batch of national parks to be set up

China on Tuesday announced it would formally establish its first batch of national parks.

Sanjiangyuan National Park, Wuyi Mountain National Park, Giant Panda National Park, Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park and Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park are on the list.

The protected land area is 230,000 square kilometers and covers nearly 30 percent of the key terrestrial wildlife species found in China.

They are among 10 pilot national parks which have been reviewed by the authorities for national-park status in the past years.

The national park system aims to end the segmented management of a nature reserve that covers multiple provinces so that the integrity of wild animals' habitats can be guaranteed. Giant Panda National Park has integrated 81 nature reserves spanning three provinces since the pilot program began. Consequently, the management of giant pandas that once divided habitats has been unified.

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