Remarks by H.E. Dr. Liu Xianfa At the Side Event of Forests and Life on Land

Your Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly,

Your Excellency Madame Sahle-Work Zewde, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi,

Your Excellency Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme,

Honorable CS Wakhungu, PS Juma,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! It is my great pleasure to join you today in the beautiful Karura forest, and exchange views on sustainable development of the ecosystem of forests and lands. First of all, I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese government, extend my warmest congratulations on the hosting of today’s event.

It is China’s basic principle in the new era to ensure the harmony between human and nature. In October the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China has set it as a development concept that man and nature form a community of life and that we as human beings must respect nature, follow its way and protect it. The Congress emphasized that we must intensify the protection of ecosystems, adopt a holistic approach to conserving our mountains, rivers, forests, farmlands, lakes and grasslands, implement major projects to protect and restore key ecosystems, improve the system of shields for ecological security, and develop ecological corridors and biodiversity protection networks, so as to build a beautiful China, create a favorable living environment for the people and make important contributions to the global ecological security.

It is very encouraging that many countries have made a lot of efforts to address the sustainable development of the ecosystem of forests and lands, and China has taken a series of actions in this regard. Firstly, the ecological spatial restructuring has been optimized. The central government strengthened national plan for functional zoning, and the local governments strictly followed the plan and defended the ecological red line. Now prohibited development zones have amounted to 12.5% of the total land area. Secondly, ecosystem restoration has been continuously advanced. In over 90% of the land-based ecosystems there are representative natural reserves where 89% of wildlife under key national protection are well protected. In 2017 China unveiled the overall plan for national park system and 9 pilot regions with an area of 170 thousand square kilometers have been set up. Thirdly, shields for ecological security have been gradually built. National Key Forestry Programs have been further advanced, as commercial logging of natural forests in state-owned plantations has been completely prohibited since 2016, great efforts have been made to encourage the cessation of commercial logging of collective and private natural forests. A new round of program to turn marginal farmland into forest or grassland has steadily forged ahead, with the afforestation of 16.8 million acres and forest tending of 20.8 million acres in 2016. The implementation plan for returning marginal farmland into wetland was formulated, and 33 thousand acres of marginal farmland has been returned into wetland and 49 thousand acres of degraded wetland have been restored.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While forging ahead with our domestic ecological conservation efforts, China attaches great importance to the cooperation with other countries and has shouldered our due responsibilities to realize the sustainable development of the global ecosystems. Currently, China has joined most major international conventions such as Convention on Biological Diversity and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In September this year China hosted the 13th Conference of Parties of the UN Convention on Combating Desertification, where China’s successful experience in combating desertification was shared and the Ordos Declaration was issued. Moreover, China has actively pushed forward the construction of the green Belt and Road and south-south cooperation on environmental protection, providing financial, technical and capacity building support the efforts of developing countries to protect biodiversity and environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All lives grow from the same origin, and we human beings come from the same root. The challenge of global sustainable development has bound us human beings together as a community with a shared future. China is ready to work hand in hand with our partners to intensify the protection of ecosystems, and make every effort to realize the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, so as to build an pollution-free planet. Thank you.

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