All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) 2019 Annual Summit Forum was held in Beijing on June 8th with the topic of Developing Green Finance and Building Ecological Civilization. About 200 participants attend the forum, including heads of national department, professionals of economics and finance, and business delegates. Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) was invited to participate in.
At the 8th National Environmental Protection Conference in May 2018, President Xi Jinping has stressed that building an ecological civilization is of fundamental importance for the sustainable development of the Chinese nation. The rise or fall of a civilization is closely tied to its relationship with nature. Industrialization, while generating unprecedented material wealth, has incurred serious damage to nature. We are facing great environmental challenges, including the deteriorating ecological environment and exhaustion of energy resources. It is the inevitable choice to perfect the economic system featuring low-carbon and circular development and encourage green finance.
Dr. Zhou illustrated the importance of biodiversity conservation and the necessity of developing green finance. His speech is compiled as follows.
Biodiversity conservation has three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. According to the newest report published at the 7th Session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, about 1,000,000 species will extinct in 10 years, and that is the reason why we should attach attention to biodiversity conservation. Secondly, climate change needs urgent actions because it will cause a great loss of habitats. It has been discussed that why we need to enter the era of ecological civilization. The high rate of biodiversity loss leads to the 5th Great Mass Extinction, and that is the fundamental reason why human beings need ecological civilization. Green finance is based on ecological civilization. I went to Tianjin for attending a meeting, and a large picture poster came into my view when stepping into the hall. It depicts the mud flat which has been transformed into the so-called ecological park. The idea elaborated by this picture is misleading because mud flat could be the homeland of some species. Taking Bagua mud flat in Tianjin as an example, millions of birds migrate here and live on clams on the flat. Over the past 40 years, 95% of habitats have lost in Tianjin. What is disappearing is not only the habitats of birds but also those of marine creatures.
As science and technology advance, people’s awareness should be improved. Official departments of Shanghai said the mud flat is too dirty, so they advised to plant trees. Some people suggest converting cultivated land to forestry, but I think we should convert farmland into wetlands. It is a mud flat that embodies the philosophy of green and ecological development. In terms of green finance, the management is not ideal for it fails to identify whether clean energy project will threaten the local ecological environment. We notice that some projects of wind energy may pose a negative effect on habitats, thus disturbing the migration of birds and ecological environment of protected areas. We have filed environmental public interest litigations against such projects. Hydropower, for instance, is clean, but once a hydropower plant will be built in the protected area of Acer pentaphyllum, an endangered species, how could it still be regarded as green? This is one project which has been halted by CBCGDF. We also learned another hydropower project in Indonesia. A plant will be constructed in the habitat of orangutan, a newfound creature around the world. I learned the 1050 MW coal plant project in Lamu, Kenya at the UNEA-4 in Nairobi in March 2019. Local environmental protection organizations believe the project invested by Chinese financial institutions is against the idea of environment protection and ecological development. We promote Green Belt and Road and have compiled studies of “Ecological Belt & Road and Conflicts Cases” to remind investors of the potential risks and promote dialogue between the local community and Chinese investors. Therefore, we should enhance our awareness of green and ecological development with the advance of science. The advance of green finance lays the foundation for the construction of ecological civilization. We hope more people could pay enough attention to ecological civilization and biodiversity.
(Photo credit: CBCGDF)
Original Chinese article:
By / Wang Yanqing