Opening Remarks by Ms Beate Trankmann at the 3rd China International Ecological Expo
June 19, 2023
尊敬的 王光谦 副主席 ( Wang Xingqian Vice Chairperson, CPPCC)
尊敬的 陈刚 书记 ( Chen Gang Secretary, Qinghai Provincial Party Committee)
尊敬的 盛秋平 副部长 (Sheng Jiuping Vice Minister, MOFCOM)
尊敬的 田为勇 总工程师 (Tian Weiyong, Chief Engineer for Nuclear Safety, MEE)
尊敬的 张少刚 副会长 (Zhang Shaogang, Vice President, CCPIT)
尊敬的 张向晨 副总干事 (Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy Director-General, WTO)
Dear Mr. Erik Solheim (International President, the BRI Green Development Institute)
Excellencies, Good morning,
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, it is my great pleasure to be here at the 3rd China International Ecological Expo.
It is very fitting that this event is being held in Qinghai Province – home to an abundance of biodiversity, China’s largest lake, and the source of Asia’s three longest rivers.
The waters of Qinghai, which flow thousands of kilometers from their points of origin, have been the lifeblood of Chinese civilization since ancient times, perfectly symbolizing how closely nature and humanity are connected. As the saying goes, “天地与我并生，而万物与我为一，天人合一”.
Indeed, globally, around 2 billion people depend on nature for their livelihoods, and about 2.7 billion directly rely on nature and biodiversity for at least one of their basic needs.
Our future as a species, as with all species, is tied to the future of the Environment and the ecosystems which sustain us.
However, as we gather here today, this future is in serious jeopardy.
Every year, we lose ten million hectares of forest, roughly equivalent in size to the province of Zhejiang. And species are going extinct at a faster rate than any time in history, with up to one million species threatened. To maintain humanity’s current way of life, we would need the equivalent of 1.6 Earths.
This is simply not sustainable. For the sake of future generations, and the survival of humankind, we must urgently change our trajectory.
Last December, the COP15 Biodiversity Summit, presided over by China, concluded in Montreal, with the world collectively adopting the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
Consisting of 23 targets and over 60 resolutions, this critical agreement is a comprehensive blueprint to reverse the damage we’ve inflicted on our planet, and ensure that nature can flourish again.
But as important as these commitments are, they will only matter if we take urgent and concrete action to realize them.
Here in China, since 2017, the government’s Ecological Redline Policy has resulted in protected areas reaching 18 percent of total landmass – around 1.73 million square kilometers.
Efforts are currently being made to bring this number up to 30% in line with the GBF target.
This includes the establishment of 5 National Parks, including Sanjiangyuan (三江源国家级自然保护区) here in Qinghai, which together account for 30% of China’s terrestrial wildlife.
In addition, later this year, a law to strengthen ecological protection and restoration across the entire Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, will also come into effect.
Actions such as these must continue and be urgently expanded on.
To this end, there are several key areas where it will be critical to further accelerate progress.
First and foremost, biodiversity finance must be increased. Annually, $824 billion is needed to sustain biodiversity. But currently, the world only directs around $142 billion towards conservation efforts – just 0.1 percent of global GDP.
When factoring in the hundreds of billions spent every year on investments that harm biodiversity, including agricultural subsidies, the funding gap widens even further.
Investing in the protection of nature is an investment in our collective future – one which isn’t just a moral obligation, but also makes business sense. Indeed, the World Economic Forum estimates that a nature-positive economy could generate up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.
Secondly, we must tackle biodiversity protection and climate change together as they are inherently linked. Ecosystems not only provide habitats for millions of species, but also act as carbon sinks, helping to absorb greenhouse gases.
By destroying nature, we accelerate climate change, which in turn leads to further degradation of ecosystems in a vicious cycle of environmental decline.
And lastly, we must strengthen the coordination of biodiversity protection strategies across different sectors and regions.
As nature has no clear geographic boundaries, looking for opportunities where conservation efforts can support each other, as opposed to operating in isolation, can help to boost their effectiveness and impact.
Moving forward, UNDP stands ready to continue helping to strengthen ecological protection, both in China and globally.
Through our global Nature Pledge, we are committed to supporting countries to implement the vision of the GBF.
This includes building on our decades of work here in Qinghai, where we have partnered with the government to enhance biodiversity protection measures in Sanjiangyuan national park, as well as the Qilian Mountains, through training local communities in ecosystem management and informing conservation regulations.
We are also supporting other provinces in China to develop and implement biodiversity finance plans as part of our BIOFIN programme, directing greater amounts of investment towards conservation.
In closing, let me express my thanks to the hosts of the Expo – the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, and the Government of Qinghai Province.
Looking ahead to 2030, we cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without a healthy environment. In building a sustainable and prosperous world, nature can be our greatest ally, but only if we protect it. Time is running out. Together, me must act now to ensure a future where humanity lives in harmony with nature.
Our survival depends on it!