NAIROBI - The huge support China has provided to the multilateral environment agenda is key to hastening low carbon growth while shielding communities and ecosystems from shocks linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior UN Environment Programme (UNEP) official has said.
Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director, said that China's stewardship in climate action and efforts to restore biodiversity will inject vitality into the global green agenda.
"China has a significant role in leading countries across the world in achieving carbon neutrality, both in investments in China and investments abroad," Andersen told Xinhua ahead of the first part of the fifth edition of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5.1) to be held virtually from Feb 22-23.
The two-day summit, with a theme of "Strengthening actions for nature to achieve the sustainable development goals," will discuss broad actions that countries should take in order to build a post-pandemic future that is greener, resilient and inclusive.
"The virtual UNEA will focus on actions to strengthen nature, as the very foundation of sustainable development," said Andersen, adding that delegates will also focus on revitalizing the multilateral environmental agenda as a basis for hastening post-pandemic recovery.
She said the summit will approve an ambitious blueprint to address the climate, biodiversity and pollution crisis that has worsened poverty, disease and inequalities.
According to Andersen, the international community regards China a valuable partner in efforts to tackle challenges facing the planet including climate change, biodiversity loss and plastic waste that is choking waterways.
She hailed China's ambitious goal to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2060, adding that it signaled Beijing's commitment to a greener and prosperous future.
"These are welcome steps but I ask all countries to continue to stretch on ambition and action to steer the world away from climate catastrophe," said Andersen.
She said that robust actions from the G20 leading economies that include China will be critical to achieve global carbon emission reduction targets and avert long-term harm to ecosystems and livelihoods.
Andersen said that G20 countries that account for 78 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions should inject political goodwill and capital required to accelerate low carbon growth.
She said that the adoption of clean energy and transportation systems, investments in waste management combined with resource use efficiency, is key to hastening pandemic recovery.
The UNEP official said that China, which will play host to a global biodiversity summit in May, is expected to be an influential player in global efforts to reverse the loss of species that has worsened amid climatic shocks and urbanization.
"A strong and inclusive multilateral system in which China is deeply involved is key to reversing this worrying trend," said Andersen.
China will host the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) from May 17-30 in the city of Kunming, where delegates are expected to adopt a new framework to guide enhanced protection of species.
Andersen said that Beijing's robust commitment to the global biodiversity conservation agenda is key to reversing the loss of iconic species, restoration of degraded lands and reengineering of food and energy systems to ensure the pandemic recovery is green and equitable.
"I look to China for leadership in driving the global community towards an ambitious, meaningful, measurable framework with the means of financing and implementation addressed, so that we may arrest the loss of our natural world once and for all," said Andersen.