On 19 December 2022, the second part of the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) adopted the “Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF), which aims for effective conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans by 2030. SEE (The Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology) Conservation actively engaged in the Conference by organising and addressing multiple side events and presenting its practices and achievements in biodiversity conservation, which amounts to its contributions to global biodiversity conservation efforts.
Enterprises as An Important Force in Integrated Responses to Biodiversity and Climate Change
Biodiversity loss and climate change closely interact with each other. On one hand, nature and ecosystems are essential to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius. On the other, negative impacts from climate change can further exacerbate the loss of biodiversity. Coordinated efforts among different sectors are therefore needed to respond effectively to biodiversity and climate crises. Businesses, in particular, can play a critical role not only in such integrated responses but also in achieving the green, low-carbon, and sustainable transformation of the entire society.
A side event themed “Corporate Integrated Responses to Biodiversity & Climate Crises” was successfully convened in China Pavilion on 8 December. Co-hosted by the Centre for Environmental Education and Communications of China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (CEEC) and Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology (SEE), and sponsored by Aleshan Foundation, the event brought together representatives from the Chinese government, businesses and NGOs for an in-depth discussion about the opportunities and challenges Chinese businesses and industries face in biodiversity conservation and climate response, as well as how to achieve the goals of net-zero and nature positive.
TIAN Chengchuan, Director General of CEEC, suggested that enterprises can help protect biodiversity and address climate change in three aspects. First, the concept of green and low-carbon development must take root in enterprises and they should speed up the transition of their development modes. Second, enterprises should encourage and expedite innovations in green and low-carbon practices so as to explore and build up a sustainable business model that is conducive to protecting the ecological environment and tackling climate change. Third, enterprises should fulfil their corporate social responsibilities in environmental protection and climate response and proactively participate in related campaigns and educational activities.
WANG Shi, Co-Founder, the second Chairman and a life member of the Society of Entrepreneurs & Ecology, Founder and Honorary Chairman of China Vanke Co., Ltd, talked about Vanke’s practices in conserving biodiversity and exploring carbon-neutrality. He pointed out that we must not pursue carbon neutrality for the sake of carbon neutrality itself, especially when we consider future carbon-neutral communities, cities and even countries. Carbon neutrality is just a means; what really matters is how to get along with nature, the environment, and biodiversity.
When speaking of how enterprises coordinate their efforts to address biodiversity and climate crises, SUN Lili, Chairperson of SEE Conservation, said there is not always synergy or complementarity between measures tackling climate change and those conserving biodiversity. Sometimes climate change mitigation measures could affect biodiversity, and vice versa. “Enterprises should incorporate such integrated responses into their sustainability strategies and action plans. Actions that benefit biodiversity and help mitigate climate changes need to be identified. Biodiversity Impact Assessment should be conducted before taking actions, and measures that avoid or minimize negative impacts should be adopted,” she suggested.
Integrated responses to biodiversity and climate crises are pivotal to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How do we mobilise various players into the desired synergy? As an effort to explore answers to the question, SEE Conservation organised a panel discussion with its Ecological Conservation and Nature Education Programme Director from SEE Foundation, JIANG Zeyin, as the moderator. LIU Mingda, A member of SEE Board of Supervisors and Executive Director of Shenzhen Mangrove Wetland Conservation Foundation (MCF), ZHANG Xiangdong, a member of SEE Conservation, and DOU Yuguang, Deputy Secretary-General of the 4th Working Committee of SEE’s Northwest China Project Centre, sat on the panel and shared with the audience their experiences and insights with stories from Chinese enterprises.
Chinese Enterprises and Environmental NGOs Helping Advance Global Biodiversity Conservation
During the Conference, representatives from SEE spoke at multiple side events in China Pavilion on a wide range of topics, from China’s innovative system of ecological conservation red lines to the part local community play, from women group’s unique role to climate change mitigation measures that help advance biodiversity conservation, and from nature-oriented investment to the contribution of non-state actors. These side events were more than displays of the beauty of biodiversity or China’s accomplishments in biodiversity conservation. They contributed wisdom and strengths to global biodiversity conservation efforts.
It is a daunting task to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. Yet Chinese enterprises and environmental NGOs’ practices and approaches in biodiversity conservation can contribute wisdom and solutions to building a shared future for all life on earth. At the side event “Eco-Redline: An Innovative Approach for Biodiversity Conservation” held on 8 December, LIU Mingda, a member of SEE Board of Supervisors and Executive Director of MCF presented stories of wetland ecosystems in eco-redlines in Shenzhen and showcased China’s strengths in wetland conservation to the rest of the world.
On 9 December, CEEC, WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), SEE Conservation and several other organisations jointly hosted a side event on the theme of “Accelerating Business Actions in China for Biodiversity Conservation”. Business Handbook on Biodiversity Conservation and Business Biodiversity Conservation Cases, compiled by SEE Conservation and other organisations, was released. As a partner of this cooperation, LIU Mingda presented multiple cases of Chinese businesses in biodiversity conservation. “SEE Conservation was deeply involved in the preparation of these two publications and the video ‘Leading Voice for Nature’. It called on its member enterprises to provide case studies. We hope that these two publications will be coming into their full play and help enterprises boost their readiness for green transition and build competitive advantages for sustainable development.”
Business Biodiversity Conservation Cases presents twenty-three cases of best practices, including the ones from SEE member enterprises such as Sinoeco, Landsea, Organic and Beyond, and Broad Homes, with a view to inspiring more enterprises with diverse and realistic pathways to conservation. These best practices are selected from the cases that have been collected from hundreds of enterprises of different industries and sizes around the world.
In addition, three reports, China’s Biodiversity Outlook, China’s Practices of Business Contribution to Biodiversity, and China’s List of Wild Animals and Plants in Dire Need for Priority Protection, came out with the latest research findings and practices in China’s biodiversity conservation. The last one in particular is the product of the partnership between SEE Foundation and China’s Endangered Species Scientific Commission in collaboration with renowned scientists and core managerial staff of Kunming Institute of Botany and Chengdu Institute of Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It is the result of extensive and in-depth research and innovative work that combines basic research and field practices. It aims to increase the efficiency of species protection in China so that limited resources can be directed toward species in urgent need of protection.
Yang Biao, Secretary-General of SEE Foundation, pointed out that the List will provide scientific grounds for the government to formulate top-down conservation measures and inform civil society organisations and volunteers of their bottom-up actions.
Non-state actors, including enterprises, local communities and social organisations, have played an important role in recent years in conservation-related communications and education, dynamic monitoring, and protected areas-community co-management, and brought new ideas to global biodiversity conservation efforts. At “Shared Wisdom: Traditions, Contributions and Future of Local Communities in Biodiversity Conservation”, a side event held on 9 December, Jiang Zeyin gave a presentation on SEE Foundation’s conservation projects in different parts of China, such as Sanjiangyuan area, Qinling Mountains, and Yunnan Province. These projects focus on species protection as well as local communities’ livelihoods and their traditional cultures. Driven by the business thinking of SEE Conservation’s member entrepreneurs, the projects have not only advanced biodiversity conservation but also improved local livelihoods, hence ensuring the sustainability of such environmental projects.
At the side event of “Proceeding from Kunming: Voluntary Pledge Actions of Non-State Actors Help Achieve Post-2020 GBF Goals” held on 13 December, YANG Biao and other speakers examined voluntary conservation initiatives of non-state actors and highlighted the best conservation practices by civil society, indigenous people, and local communities.
Investing in Nature – Making Finance A Solution to Nature’s Problems
Different actors in economic and social activities have different roles to play in biodiversity conservation. One of the roles is to help achieve biodiversity conservation goals with financial instruments and it has been drawing more and more global attention. However, biodiversity issues are not yet a factor that weighs in financial institutions’ decision-making process. The lack of financial resources, management, and effective tools remains a huge challenge for biodiversity conservation in China. What role, can commercial financial institutions play?
Zhang Yuan, Secretary General of SEE Conservation, spoke about the engagement and the practices of Chinese entrepreneurs in conservation at the side event “Biodiversity Protection under Climate Change Background” on 12 December. “We are promoting mechanisms for scaling up investment in nature conservation and climate change response. SEE is the first global partner in China and a member of the coordination group of Business for Nature, a coalition of more than 70 partner organizations, including WBCSD、WEF、WWF、WRI、IUCN and TNC. 124 of our member enterprises have signed up to BfN’s “Nature Is Everyone’s Business” Call to Action. Six of our member entrepreneurs have been awarded by BfN the honor of Leading Voice for Nature. We lead by example in nature conservation and advocate policies to reverse nature loss in this decade. Furthermore, we have joined the Partnership of Biodiversity and Finance jointly launched by UNEP, UNDP, the World Bank and other international organizations, which is aimed at addressing the financing gap in biodiversity conservation, encouraging more active engagement of financial organizations in global biodiversity governance, and contributing to adoption and implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”
“Invest in Nature: High-Level Dialogue of Partnership of Biodiversity and Finance (PBF)” was held at the Conference on 11 December. ZHANG Bowen, Deputy Secretary General of SEE Conservation and SEE Foundation, said at the event: “First, the sector that serves public interest should strategically align themselves with global and national goals. Second, accountability for enterprise’s biodiversity performance should be reinforced. Third, we hope there will be more funding support to NGOs for their biodiversity conservation actions. But most importantly, there is not much time left for us to reverse nature crises. We must act now.”
Zhang Bowen also spoke at the side event “Accelerating Nature Accountability: Act Now” on 12 December. “NGOs can exert an extremely positive influence on enterprises to step up their conservation actions. They can analyse and assess enterprises’ biodiversity performance, or take direct actions to hold not-compliant companies accountable. In addition, NGOs can also become supporters of enterprises that are transforming into nature-positive,” she said. Biodiversity is a part of natural capital; the richer the biodiversity, the better for the health and stability of natural capital. At the side event “Nature-Oriented Investment: Biodiversity from the View of ESG” held on the same day, JIANG Zeyin talked through the Blue Sea Initiative that focuses on coastal wetland protection and restoration. The Initiative encourages and supports NGOs to make use of social capitals to engage, under the guidance of science, in coastal wetland protection and restoration. By 2022, the area of important coastal wetlands, such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and tidal marshes, protected by the Initiative has exceeded 20,000 hectares, and the direct and indirect beneficiaries more than 10 million in China’s coastal areas.
Power of Women in Biodiversity Conservation
From the rise of environmental awareness to the booming environmental movement, women have been the power behind these changes. They have also written some of the most glorious chapters in the history of environmental protection. Women are an indispensable force in protecting nature.
“Biodiversity Conservation Meets Her” was held on 17 December as the only gender equality side event in China Pavilion during the Conference. It was hosted by CEEC and co-organised by SEE Conservation and Beijing Echo-kids Public Welfare Development Center.
Based on her own experiences, SUN Lili, Chairperson of SEE Conservation, spoke about how to increase women’s leadership and influence in nature conservation and environmental protection. “I have witnessed the growth of a large number of women working in environmental nonprofits. But I have also noticed that the capacity and potentials of women in environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity conservation, and other fields have not been fully tapped yet. I hope that women’s leadership and influence in ecological protection will be further strengthened.”
The adoption of “Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework” (GBF) demonstrates the ambition and actions of the international community to join hands together in building a shared future for all life on earth. It also demonstrates the solidarity and cooperation of the international community in reversing biodiversity loss and embarking on the road to recovery.
In the face of unprecedented challenges to global biodiversity, SEE Conservation stands ready to join forces with governments, enterprises, and nonprofits around the world, and, through enhanced communication and cooperation, to safeguard global biodiversity and build a beautiful world where man and nature live in harmony.