The Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Science and Development (CASISD), in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), recently hosted a seminar with Chinese government representatives, experts, and IUCN member institutions in China to discuss the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (Kunming Framework).
The Kunming Framework was adopted during the second phase of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in 2022.
It has set 23 targets for global biodiversity protection, the most prominent of which is the “3030” target, which involves designating at least 30 percent of global land and oceans to be the subject of conservation efforts by 2030. It also promises clear support measures in the process for developing countries in terms of finance, technology, and capacity building.
At the seminar, experts and practitioners discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the Framework’s implementation, and how it ties into China’s biodiversity conservation and dual carbon goals, especially the role that nature-based solutions will play in biodiversity conservation and climate change action.
The 3030 target
According to a researcher at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s nature reserve system is one of the key missions for the country to achieve sustainable development and protection of its ecosystem.
In this regard, China has already set the goal to build the world’s largest national park system and form a nature reserve system with national parks as the mainstay which will include nearly 10,000 nature reserves covering more than 18 percent of the country’s land.
However, China’s nature reserve system also faces a host of problems. In the past, nature reserves were mostly established through a bottom-up approach. Many of the existing nature reserves do not have reasonable layouts and are scattered across the country in a rather random manner.
Therefore, the phenomenon of fragmentation and isolation of nature reserves is serious. Different types of reserves were set up in overlapping spaces, reducing the overall effectiveness of conservation efforts.
In the seminar, Professor Lv Zhi from the School of Life Sciences at Peking University suggested that to achieve the 3030 target, spatial limits should be abolished. Stakeholders and decision-makers should incorporate ecological protection demands and biodiversity considerations when planning for non-ecological protection areas such as agricultural and urban areas.
Professor Lv believes it is unlikely to increase the land for nature reserves on a large scale. Also, Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) are a potential mechanism for conservation that should not be overlooked. The professor wants the government to establish monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for OECMs and a national record-keeping and filing system.
The synergy between biodiversity and climate resilience
Research by Chinese scientists shows that the conservation and restoration of China’s ecosystems could result in the absorbtion of about 600 million tons of CO2 every year. Therefore, improving the quality of ecosystems, increasing the carbon sink per unit area, and enhancing the various functions of ecosystems are the focuses of future ecosystem conservation and restoration in China.
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) play an indispensable role in improving biodiversity and climate resilience. In China, NbS still faces problems such as the lack of standards and technical specifications, disconnection between different responsible departments, and unclear goals and action plans.
In his concluding remarks, Zhang Yan, director of the IUCN China Representative Office, said that stakeholders should continue to promote the application and practice of NbS and OECMs in China through interdisciplinary, cross-industry, and cross-disciplinary dialogues and cooperation.