Delegates applaud after Mexico made a "cris du coeur" for delegates to reach an agreement during the plenary for the tail end of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on Dec 19, 2022. (ANDREJ IVANOV / AFP)
MONTREAL — After intense negotiations for nearly two weeks at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), countries reached on Monday a historic agreement to address the loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems.
Delighted with the outcome, scholars and delegates from around the world have spoken highly of China's efforts in chairing the meeting -- the second phase here and the first half held in China's Kunming -- and applauded China's wisdom and courage in facilitating the conclusion of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
The objectives are "of enormous potential significance for stopping biodiversity loss in the next coming years"
Describing the deal as "historic," COP15 President and China's Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu said the framework historically depicts the vision of harmonious coexistence between man and nature in 2050, historically incorporates the digital sequence information landing path, and historically decides to establish a framework fund.
The package, including four goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030, calls for protecting 30 percent of the Earth's lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters, reducing annual harmful government subsidies by 500 billion US dollars, and cutting food waste by half.
The objectives are "of enormous potential significance for stopping biodiversity loss in the next coming years," Imma Oliveras, senior researcher at the Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford, told Xinhua.
"This is the most important agreement since the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were established, and if countries ensure that the previous mistakes are not repeated, it can bring a step change in biodiversity conservation," she said.
To Marco Lambertini, director general of World Wide Fund for Nature International, "governments have chosen the right side of history in Montreal."
"The agreement represents a major milestone for the conservation of our natural world, and biodiversity has never been so high on the political and business agenda," he said.
To ensure the success of the second part of COP15, China presided over more than 30 meetings of the COP bureau and several working group meetings in a bid to coordinate and promote the consultation process, and communicated with parties and stakeholders on various occasions, according to Huang.
"After four years of efforts, the process finally came to an end," said Huang, minutes before tapping his gavel to call it a deal.
"The Chinese presidency has been playing a very important role ... I think it makes sense for China, as a major developing country with many biodiversity assets and that is actually committed to this agenda, to be presiding over this conference," Leonardo Cleaver de Athayde, director of the Department of Sustainable Development under Brazil's Foreign Ministry, told Xinhua.
"This is an extremely positive moment for the international community and for the diplomatic process at the Convention on Biological Diversity that I have personally been involved with for nearly 30 years," said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO of the Global Environment Facility.
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"Mexico recognizes and is grateful to the Chinese presidency of COP15 for their delicate work of bringing together different visions which we have expressed throughout these exhausting weeks. The text reflects the intention and sensibility that we had of hearing all parties. With that in mind, Mexico completely supports the presidency," the Mexican delegation said in a statement.
Expressing his gratitude for China's leadership on behalf of Canada and the Canadian people, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault, the host, said it was "the most significant COP in history."
"We take a bold step forward, to protect nature, to protect the air that we breathe, the water that we drink. And for that, Mr. President, we are extremely grateful," he said.
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