WWF reaction to COP15 Leaders Summit

Posted on 12 October 2021

KUNMING, China (12 October 2021) World leaders met virtually today for a Leaders Summit at part one of the UN Biodiversity Conference COP15. 

The summit, which included statements from Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanual Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, marked a key opportunity for leaders to kickstart momentum on nature within the one-week event, which brings together countries to discuss a global plan to tackle nature loss.

Part Two of COP15 will take place in Kunming, China, in April-May 2022, and will feature the adoption of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, which will replace the expired Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

This week sees China take on the role of COP President. 

President Xi Jinping delivered the keynote address of the summit, highlighting the importance of both multilateralism and Ecological Civilization - a concept that sets out a relationship between humankind and nature that keeps human activities within the limits of the ecology and environment.

Reacting to Xi Jinping’s statement, which includes the announcement of the 1.5 billion yuan Kunming Biodiversity Fund, Lin Li, Director of Global Policy and Advocacy at WWF International, said:

"WWF welcomes President Xi’s speech which set out a clear vision for addressing our catastrophic loss of biodiversity. With nature loss threatening both human health and livelihoods, it is crucial that China, as COP President, takes the lead in encouraging all leaders to show the political will to reverse biodiversity loss and secure a nature-positive world by 2030. China’s concept of Ecological Civilization can also provide important underpinnings and momentum toward the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.”

“The announcement of the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, with 1.5 billion yuan going to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, shows that China is stepping into a leadership role. However, while finance to support biodiversity protection and restoration is essential, a step change in our relationship with and exploitation of nature is still needed which will require all countries to work together. China's role as President of the COP now is to encourage countries to secure an ambitious final agreement next year.”

The summit saw many leaders highlight the connected nature of our climate and biodiversity crises, and the momentous opportunity to tackle both through joined up action across COP26 - scheduled for November in Glasgow - and COP15. President Macron called for all countries and international institutions to ensure that 30% of climate funds are used to support biodiversity.

Reacting to the statements from leaders, and the opportunity for integrated action for climate, nature and people, Gavin Edwards, Global Coordinator, New Deal for Nature and People, WWF International, said:

“Today’s Leaders Summit saw President Xi and a number of other world leaders explain why efforts to protect nature must be stepped up for the sake of humanity. The calls and commitments by leaders to provide more funding for nature, stop subsidizing destructive agricultural practices, protect at least 30% of land, freshwater and sea, stop importing products that drive deforestation, and ensure nature is in recovery are welcome. It is vital that every world leader steps up and that the Global Biodiversity Framework, scheduled to be adopted by governments in Kunming next May, embeds these commitments as part of a holistic nature-positive action plan that is then implemented with vigour.  

“Bold and integrated action on climate and nature is essential to both tackle the climate crisis and to ensure that nature is in recovery - the risk to the global economy, to sustainable development, and the risk of future pandemics is real if leaders don’t rise to the challenge at hand. Both the Climate CoP 26 meeting in Glasgow and Nature CoP 15 meeting in Kunming are the two key moments where governments can and must commit to ambitious action to deliver an equitable, nature positive and net-zero emissions future.”

President Xi Jinping announces the Kunming Biodiversity fund
President Xi Jinping announces the Kunming Biodiversity fund
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