A giant panda in Chengdu, China
Panda Captive breeding centers like this one in Chengdu are trying to boost the endangered species’ population. © Nick Hall

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Media Statement: Kunming must fire the starting pistol for nature’s rebound

Tangible action across difficult policy areas must eclipse rhetoric if Global Biodiversity Framework negotiations are going to lead to lasting change

Following successive postponements due to the pandemic, Monday 11 October will see the first session of the two-part UN Biodiversity Conference COP15 commence in Kunming, China.

One week of hybrid events, expected to be crowned by the official signing of the Chinese government’s Kunming Declaration, will be followed by a round of in-person meetings in Geneva in January – and then it’s back to China next April, where the new 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework conceived to replace the expired Aichi Biodiversity Targets is expected to be adopted.

The intervening time will be dominated by next month’s UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, UK.   

Commenting on the urgent need to maintain momentum in biodiversity negotiations against this climate-centric backdrop, The Nature Conservancy’s global policy lead Andrew Deutz said:

“The gathering momentum behind nature hasn’t come a moment too soon. As with the accelerating climate emergency, what happens over the next year will – to a large extent – set humanity’s course for the rest of the decade; and what happens this decade is likely to define our prospects for the rest of this century.

“There is so much we can and should be doing in the meantime to address the key drivers of biodiversity loss. Top of the list, as our study with the Paulson Institute and Cornell’s Atkinson Center for Sustainability showed last year, is reform of those harmful subsidies and other perverse incentives that are actively encouraging activities that damage nature, especially in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors.

“At the same time, there are plentiful policy levers that national finance ministries have available to them to generate an order of magnitude increase in positive financial flows for nature. As the global economy rebounds from the pandemic, there are so many opportunities for domestic economic interventions that will help to shape production and consumption patterns in more nature-positive and climate-neutral directions.

“At the start of the road to Kunming COP15, we identified three priority pillars for action: protecting the best of Earth’s remaining biodiversity hotspots; restoring the health of wider ecosystems by integrating biodiversity into production systems; and mobilizing more resources for nature by securing the necessary financial flows.

“Two years down the line, and despite all that has happened in the world since, neither our stance nor the need for action has changed. China has a fantastic opportunity to lead the world in a more positive direction for nature – but, in order to do so, it’s past time for ambitious levels of rhetoric to be matched by ambitious policy commitments.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.