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Colourful Yunnan: An epitome of China’s efforts in advancing ecological progress

From 11 to 15 October 2021, Phase 1 of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) was successfully convened in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. The world once again turned its eyes to Yunnan, a colourful border province in south-western China.
More than 5,000 delegates from over 140 Parties and over 30 international organisations participated in Phase 1 of COP 15 either in person or online to discuss biodiversity conservation, a topic of global significance. Chinese President Xi Jinping appealed to the world to protect biodiversity at the Leaders’ Summit.
He emphasised that China would work together with the international community for harmonious coexistence between man and nature for building a community of all life on earth, and for starting a new journey of high-quality development for humanity.
The adoption of the Kunming Declaration at the conference helps to pool the synergy of biodiversity governance across the globe and boost the world’s confidence in biodiversity conservation, contributing to China’s wisdom and solutions to the sustainable development of the world.
In recent years, China has promulgated more than 20 laws and regulations pertinent to biodiversity conservation, providing the legal basis for related efforts. China has stepped up biodiversity conservation campaigns and created a PA (protected areas) framework with a focus on national parks, bringing 95% of rare and endangered species under protection. With forest coverage maintaining growth for the last 30 years and with 66.67 million hectares of steppe under well-management and 52.2% of wetlands under protection, China has achieved the UN sustainable goal of zero net land degradation ahead of schedule.

Yunnan’s guests: A herd of 15 Asian elepahnts

As an important province in south-western China, Yunnan enjoys an outstanding natural environment and rich species resources. It is known as a Kingdom of Fauna, Kingdom of Flora and Species Gene Bank. Yunnan has all ecosystems except for the ocean and desert. With only 4.1% of China’s land area, it boasts almost or over 50% of various major biological groups of China’s totals, which makes it the province with the richest biodiversity in China.
A good natural environment and natural endowment are the most unique advantage that Yunnan enjoys. Yunnan unswervingly implements Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilisation and stays true to the principle that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. Yunnan blazed the trail in managing the wetlands in different categories and brought 55.27% of its total 618,310 hectares of wetlands under protection. We have launched action plans for biodiversity conservation and established more than 160 nature reserves. The number of wild Asian elephants increased from nearly 150 to over 300. We have launched the ‘Forest Yunnan’ campaign, with the forest coverage exceeding 65.04%.
In treating the pollution of lakes, we have taken a strict, systematic, scientific and law-based approach, with new progress being made in the integrated treatment of water pollution in nine major highland lakes, especially in Dianchi Lake. The treatment of Erhai Lake has become the best practice of lake treatment in China. We have actively carried out cross-border biodiversity conservation, with transboundary efforts in various forms together with neighbouring countries of Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam along the 4,060 km of borderlines.
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The story of the northward travel and return of a group of 15 Asian elephants encapsulates Yunnan’s efforts in protecting wild animals and China’s commitment to prioritising eco-environmental progress and pursuing green development for harmony between man and nature. Tens of thousands of people took care of the herd of elephants during their 110-day journey stretching 1,300 km. Yunnan local authorities attached great importance to helping the herd in finding their way back home. In September 2021, the elephants went back home successfully, demonstrating the ‘China epitome’ for global wild animal protection and for pursuing harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
Yunnan will earnestly implement Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilisation and stay committed to the practice of the new development philosophy emphasising innovation, coordination, ecological conservation, as well as openness and sharing, to pursue harmony between man and nature.
As the most important treasure-house of biodiversity in China and a gateway and a major channel for China’s opening-up to South and Southeast Asia as well as the Indian Ocean, Yunnan will strengthen international exchanges and cooperation in ecological conservation and environmental protection more openly and inclusively.
Both China and India are countries with time-honoured civilisations and splendid history. Our countries have always cherished living beings and had a deep reverence for nature. Let us join hands to stand guard for all life on earth, protect the natural environment and biodiversity in Asia, and contribute to the building of a homeland of harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
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