Opening Remarks by Ms. Beate Trankmann at the Inception Workshop for the UNDP-DR PLANT Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Utilization Project

Posted May 18, 2021

UNDP Resident Representative in China Beate Trankmann delivers remarks at the Inception Workshop of the UNDP-Dr Plant joint project

尊敬的云南省林业和草原局 王卫斌 副局长

尊敬的云南省林业和草原科学院 钟明川 院长

尊敬的 植物医生 禹雷副 总裁

Colleagues, guests and friends - Good Morning!

I regret that, due to unexpected travel complications, I am unable to join you in person today. Nonetheless, I want to express my excitement, that after the establishment of UNDP’s partnership with DR PLANT last October, we are now moving forward with our project inception.

China is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. It is endowed with 11 percent of all plant species and 14 percent of all animals on earth, including 3,000 globally threatened species.

Yunnan Province alone is home to almost half of the national protected plants and more than half of the wildlife under state protection in China. In addition, ethnic minority communities of Yunnan have long been protectors of biodiversity due to traditional cultures and customs valuing nature and ecological resources.

It is therefore very fitting that the launch of the UNDP-DR PLANT Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Utilization Project is happening in Yunnan. In five months, Kunming will also host the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), where ambitious commitments are expected to be made by world leaders to address global biodiversity challenges.

Indeed, more than ever we need effective global and local action to protect biodiversity. The current rate of global species extinction is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years – and accelerating.[1] Around 1 million species are now threatened with extinction by 2050.

The joint project between UNDP and DR PLANT aims to enhance biodiversity protection by safeguarding and leveraging the traditional knowledge of indigenous groups and local communities in Yunnan. Specifically, pilots at demonstration sites will promote the conservation and sustainable utilization of endemic plant species, preserve the knowledge of ethnic minorities on genetic resources, and build resilience of local groups by ensuring they can benefit from sharing this knowledge.

The project will also promote the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation into policies by working with the China National Institute of Standardization. Standards will be developed on the conservation of alpine plant diversity as well as guidelines on raw materials and production areas for companies manufacturing cosmetic products. We will also support intelligent monitoring in environmental protection and biodiversity management in Yunnan Province through the use of AI technology.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Biodiversity COP15, it is clear that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework cannot simply be business-as-usual. We need to be more ambitious than ever before, and as the host country, China has the opportunity to push this agenda.

Indeed, China has already demonstrated the willingness to set ambitious targets to protect our planet as evidenced by its recent pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Protecting biodiversity can, in fact, also support efforts to combat climate change through the important role that terrestrial ecosystems play as carbon sinks. Research by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) shows that from 2001-2010, the average annual carbon sequestration of terrestrial ecosystems was around 201 million tons. This is equivalent to offsetting 14.1% of China's fossil fuel carbon emissions in the same period.

By protecting biodiversity, we are protecting are ourselves, and the planet for future generations.

“天地之大德曰生” (tiān dì zhī dà dé yuē shēng), from Yi Jing (易经yì jīng), tells us that the greatest moral imperative between heaven and earth is to treasure every life in this world.

This rang true then and is even more true today! We, as humans, need to realize harmony with nature for our own survival and that of our Mother Earth!

In closing, I want to thank Dr. Plant, for its commitment to biodiversity conservation and a healthier planet for all. We look forward to joining hands for the successful implementation of our project and taking important steps towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you!