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100 countries adopt China's 'Kunming Declaration'

By Reuters | October 13th 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, during the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, on April 25, 2019. [Reuters]

Some 100 countries yesterday pledged to put the protection of habitats at the heart of their decision-making, but they stopped short of committing to specific targets to curb mass extinctions.

Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu told delegates to a UN Biodiversity Conference in the city of Kunming that the declaration they adopted was a document of political will, not a binding international agreement.

The Kunming Declaration calls for "urgent and integrated action" to reflect biodiversity considerations in all sectors of the global economy, but crucial issues - like funding conservation in poorer countries and committing to biodiversity-friendly supply chains - have been left to discuss later.

With plant and animal species loss now at the fastest rate in 10 million years, politicians, scientists and experts have been trying to lay the groundwork for a new pact on saving biodiversity.

In a previous agreement signed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, governments agreed on 20 targets to try to slow biodiversity loss and protect habitats by 2020, but none of those targets was met.

Activists have complained that disagreement over the wording of the declaration had diverted delegates' attention when urgent action was needed.

A first draft of the declaration, released in August, included political slogans associated with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which caused tension and underlined what some critics said was China's inexperience in shepherding international agreements through to conclusion.

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