COP15 in China: the role of companies in the protection of biodiversity – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology


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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Zhang Bowen, Deputy Secretary General, SEE Foundation


  • As the first part of the UN Biodiversity COP15 summit concludes in China, we take a look at what has been accomplished so far.
  • While progress has been made towards finalizing the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, more action is needed.
  • All eyes will be on China next year for the second part of COP15 as pressure mounts on companies to play their role in protecting biodiversity.

This summer, a family of wild Asian elephants from China’s Yunnan Province left their original habitat and ventured 500 kilometers north to the provincial capital Kunming. This event illustrates the gravity of the crisis facing the biosphere. For some, it’s ironic that wildlife is even more eager than world leaders to meet in Kunming to talk about biodiversity conservation.

The COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will build on its 196 parties to negotiate and settle the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) that will guide the way to 2030 and strengthen the 2050 vision. While some progress has been made, the severe loss of ecosystem services and the trajectory of the extinction of a million species have not been completely halted. According to GBO-5, none of the 20 Aichi Targets have been fully met.

The Kunming CBD COP15 meeting, already delayed twice, is divided into two phases: October 2021 and April / May 2022. The real negotiations around the GBF will not be concluded in person until 2022. In September of this year, several events heightened anticipations leading up to the great global gathering. At the recent IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, more than 1,500 members of government and civil society called for post-pandemic nature-based recovery. The CBD NGO Parallel Forum, held on September 27-28 this year, highlighted the contributions of non-state actors to biodiversity, including foundations, indigenous communities and cross-border initiatives. https://www.youtube.com/embed/yJo__jw4674?enablejsapi=1&wmode=transparent

It is the GBF that will guide humanity to strike a new pact for nature and launch a whole-of-society effort for transformative change. After 18 months of grueling negotiations and extensive consultations, GBF’s first draft was formalized, and it was widely praised for its improvements by CBD parties at OEWG-3.1, including, among others, the recognition of the role of companies in co-leading the transformation towards a fair and positive net zero future for nature.

In total, there are four goals, 10 milestones, 21 action targets and 38 key indicators. An important change is that a fourth target has been raised to explicitly state the requirement for financial and other means of implementation by 2050. In addition, a financial gap of $ 700 billion per year must be closed by by 2030. But unlike climate change, it is much lower than Target 2C, there is still no refined and easily communicated statement for biodiversity conservation. GBF’s goals, milestones and targets are so low-key and linked to far-reaching economic and social issues – this poses great challenges for implementation.

While a timely finalization of the GBF is crucial to avoid failure – as the world has failed to meet the Aichi Targets – philanthropists, responsible businesses and national initiatives can spearhead transformative change whose the world needs.

Collaboration between companies and NGOs for nature

To encourage the private sector to play its role, the first project nailed a clause in target 15: “All companies assess and report on their dependencies and their impacts on biodiversity, … gradually reduce the negative impacts of at least half and increase the positive impacts ”. If this requirement is applied as such, it will force the business sector to internalize their negative externalities against nature and ecosystems. Likewise, the Taskforce on the Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has encouraged more than 30 financial institutions to strengthen biodiversity reporting. These improved disclosure and assessment initiatives should lead to the adoption of nature-friendly practices and mainstream the concept of biodiversity into business lines. Nature

What is the World Economic Forum doing about nature?

Biodiversity loss and climate change are occurring at unprecedented rates, threatening the very survival of humanity. Nature is in crisis, but there is hope. Investing in nature can not only increase our resilience to socio-economic and environmental shocks, but it can also help societies thrive.

There is a strong recognition within the Forum that the future must be net zero and positive for nature. The Nature Action Agenda initiative, within the Platform for Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions, is an inclusive, multi-stakeholder movement that catalyzes economic action to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

Dynamic and flourishing natural ecosystems are the foundation of human well-being and prosperity. The Future of Nature and Business report found that positive transitions for nature in key sectors are good for the economy and could generate up to $ 10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs. by 2030.

To support these transitions, the Platform for Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions has brought together a community of Champions of Nature promoting the sustainable management of the planet for the good of the economy and society. The Nature Action Agenda also recently launched the 100 Million Farmers initiative, which will lead the transition of the food and agricultural system to a regenerative model, as well as the BiodiverCities initiative by 2030 to create an urban development model in harmony with the nature.

Contact us if you would like to collaborate in these efforts or join one of our communities.

But there are big gaps and shortcomings in biodiversity awareness, assessment and planning techniques, and implementation capacities among companies. “So far, 37 companies in the Greater China region have set climate targets and no company has yet signed on to develop and implement science targets for nature.” To solve these problems and create an enabling environment, NGOs and industries must work together.

For example, Business for Nature, a global coalition, has mobilized more than 1,000 companies around the world to sign up for the “Nature is Everyone’s Business” call to action, urging governments to adopt soon. now policies to reverse the loss of nature during this decade. The Joint Global Initiative on Biodiversity and Finance Partnership (PBF) – recently launched by 13 institutions and 32 banks, investors and NGOs – supports joint efforts between finance and biodiversity. Since forward-looking businesses also need tools and solutions to get started, Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology is working with partners like IUCN and The Capitals Coalition, to translate and facilitate adoption of Guidelines for planning and monitoring biodiversity performance, and Natural capital protocol. These tools will help Chinese companies assess their impacts on biodiversity and make the green transition for good reason.

China’s role and hopes for the next 10 years

China is used to hosting United Nations environmental conferences – the UNCCD COP13 was held in Erdos, Inner Mongolia, China, in 2017. Despite China’s current restrictions on COVID-19, the organizational team is determined to make CBD COP15 a success. But the real success will lie on the negotiating table, where China can wield great influence.

As the world’s second-largest economy, China has four of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world and is considered one of the most “biologically rich” countries on the planet. China advocates the use of “nature-based solutions” to deal with climate and biodiversity crises.

The Chinese government is committed to working with all parties and stakeholders to provide a truly transformative global biodiversity framework. We must generate change in all sectors of society to create an ecological civilization and a positive economy for nature. — Liu Ning, Executive Committee, CBD COP15

China’s national conservation policies, such as its ecological red line and achievements – about a quarter of land covered by the red line by the end of 2020 – provide an opportunity for China to lead by example . He approaches the global governance of biodiversity with the idea that the GBF must find a balance between ambition and reality. As the largest developing country, China best supports other developing countries through South-South cooperation.

Historically, China has been a serious contributor to the Paris Agreement in 2015, but it might need a commitment as strong as the 2060 carbon neutral target announced last year to signal to the world its intention and its ambition.

A day before the IPCC’s 6 most alarming climate change assessment report was released on August 9, the Asian elephant family finally returned to their habitat, safe and sound. Maybe someday humans will be able to live in harmony with nature, but to get there we need to act now.



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