Governments below national level team up for action on biodiversity
Governments at the lower tiers in countries are playing an important role in boosting biodiversity, experts said ahead of a United Nations conference aimed at boosting protection for the natural world.
The experts were speaking in advance of the 15th Conference of the Parties, or COP15, to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which gets underway in Montreal, Canada, on Wednesday. China is serving as the host of the talks, which end on Dec 19.
"As for many environmental issues, regional governments such as states and provinces play a very large part," said Ken Alex, director of project climate at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy& the Environment.
For the first time at the biological diversity convention, there will be a pavilion focused entirely on the actions of subnational and local governments, as well as the opportunities available to them.
But in California, which has longstanding climate ties with China, there already have been many examples of cooperation between the two sides to boost biodiversity.
"California has worked with Chinese provinces on multiple matters, including biodiversity, creating opportunities for mutual benefits through scientific and policy exchange," Alex told China Daily. "As development pressure creates new challenges for biodiversity, cooperation and exchange are essential."
China's Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu and California Governor Gavin Newsom met in a virtual meeting in April to sign a memorandum of understanding to advance cooperation on initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality, expand clean transportation and accelerate nature-based solutions.
The memorandum renewed a prior version signed by former California governor Jerry Brown in 2018.
"California and China have been in some discussion about sharing best practices and potentially funding for nature-based climate solutions," Ethan Elkind, climate program director at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, told China Daily.
Areas across China and California are pioneering nature-based solutions, according to the California-China Climate Institute, or CCCI, at the University of California, Berkeley. The institute was launched in 2019 by Brown. It serves as California's main liaison for information-sharing and communication under the memorandum.
Nature-based solutions refer to the practice of sustainable management and the use of natural resources to combat climate change and protect biodiversity. Some examples include the restoration, protection and improved management across forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, oceans and urban spaces.
China has implemented a number of nature-based activities over the past 20 years, experts at the CCCI said in a blog. One example of a nature-based solution launched by China is the Ecological Conservation Redlines initiative, experts said.
The strategy was first proposed in 2011. It is designed to supplement the country's growing system of protected areas by defining limits to human encroachment on forests, wetlands and other precious ecosystems, as well as enforcing strict conservation in those areas.
China has now brought 18 percent of its land territory under protection, Huang said in an interview with China Daily recently.
The CCCI has hosted several webinars in which participants expressed a strong interest in collaboration, joint research and policy learning between China and California.
Robin Craig, an environmental law professor at the University of Southern California, recalled a recent online lecture she gave to a workshop on ecological compensation and restoration of the Yellow River in China, a process that is occurring in Beijing. The workshop focuses on strategies to shift water back into rivers to enhance their biodiversity, said Craig.
"The discussion emphasized for me that the United States and China are both large countries that are home to a variety of ecosystems and extraordinary species and habitat," she told China Daily.
"Partnerships such as this workshop, seeking to exchange information about different ways to reallocate water and to value biodiversity, in this case, aquatic biodiversity, could be valuable for everyone."