China chairs Biodiversity Convention on

China currently holds the rotating Presidency of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). This is the first time China has overseen a major UN intergovernmental negotiation on the environment.

The first meeting in the current round of Conference of Parties (COP15) of the CBD was officially opened by China in Kunming in October 2021, largely as an online event due to Covid-19, at which parties to the CBD adopted the Kunming Declaration. In December 5–17, 2022, the next phase of COP15 will take place in Toronto, Canada. China’s minister of ecology and environment, Huang Runqiu, will preside over the next round of negotiations in Montreal.


The fate of humanity is inextricably linked to that of the rest of nature. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) made this clear when it warned that nature loss is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, with grave impacts for human well-being, and that a million species face extinction.

The CBD was agreed at the Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992. It has three objectives: the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Some 195 countries and the European Union are now parties to the CBD. The United States is the only member state of the United Nations that has not ratified the agreement.

The CBD’s Cartagena Protocol has 173 parties and its Nagoya Protocol has 137. COP15 includes meetings of parties to three international agreements: the CBD and its two subsidiary protocols, namely the Cartagena Protocol on biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing.

Chairing the CBD provides China with an opportunity to showcase its efforts to protect biodiversity both at home, through its vision of “ecological civilisation” and use of “ecological redlining”, and abroad, through greening its Belt and Road Initiative. China will need to work hard and creatively to bring other nations together and achieve consensus on an ambitious agreement.

China Dialogue has provided an updated guide to the next phase of the intergovernmental negotiations due to take place in December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. These may have a crucial role to play in halting biodiversity loss and restoring nature.

Also below, we provide a brief summary of the main contents of the Kunming Declaration.

Source: China Dialogue, August 11, 2022.

The Kunming Declaration: Ecological Civilization – Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth

Under the theme of “Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth”, the Kunming Declaration addresses key elements needed for a successful post-2020 framework: the mainstreaming of biodiversity across all decision-making; phasing out and redirection of harmful subsidies; enhancing the rule of law; and increasing financial, technological, and capacity-building support to developing countries, among others.

The post-2020 global biodiversity framework is due to be finalized and adopted at the second part of the COP15 in December 2022, after more formal negotiations.

What are the commitments under the Kunming Declaration?

The Kunming Declaration outlines general targets for the restoration and protection of biodiversity. The document lists 17 commitments for member countries, urging both international collaboration on a number of issues and increased efforts at a domestic level.

Below are some of the commitments outlined in the document.

Biodiversity protection
  • Developing and implementing a global biodiversity framework to reverse the course of biodiversity degradation and be on a “path of recovery” by 2030.
  • Develop and implement an “Implementation Plan and Capacity Building Action Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety” – an international agreement signed in 2003 that aims to protect biodiversity from the risks posed by biotechnology, such as genetically modified organisms (GMO).
  • Adopting the ecosystem approach to increase resilience and help humans adapt to the adverse effects of biodiversity loss and climate change.
  • Reduce negative effects of human activity on marine and coastal biodiversity.
Policy and regulatory
  • Integrate conservation and biodiversity into government decision-making for matters, such as poverty alleviation, economic policies, regulations, and other government policies.
  • Increase effectiveness of
  • Increase coverage of area-based conservation and management to protect species and genetic diversity.
  • Enhance both international and national environmental laws and strengthen enforcement of laws.
  • Strengthen measures for developing and regulating biotechnology to ensure equitable distribution of its benefits while minimizing their environmental impact.
  • Reform, eliminate, or phase out financial incentives that are harmful to biodiversity.
  • Provide financial tools to developing countries to help them fulfill the commitments of the Convention.
Community involvement
  • Enable participation of indigenous and local communities, as well as all relevant stakeholders, in the development and implementation of a biodiversity framework.
  • Develop educational tools to improve communication and public awareness.

Source: Extract from China Briefing, October 14, 2021.

See also: ‘Biodiversity commitment builds hope for ‘living in harmony with nature’, 13 October 2021.