At the 8th EU-China Ministerial Environment Policy Dialogue, held today, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius andMr Huang Runqiu, China’s Minister for Ecology and Environment, acknowledged the scale of the biodiversity crisis and committed to stepping up action to protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems. This meeting comes ahead of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 15), which will be held in China in October this year. It was an opportunity for Commissioner Sinkevičius and Minister Huang Runqiu to exchange views on the preparations and desirable outcomes for a successful COP 15 and update each other on concrete actions at domestic level.
Commissioner Sinkevičius said:
As the rest of the world, EU and China are facing similar environmental challenges. Threats to biodiversity, including forests, pressures on scarce natural resources, waters and oceans as well as the threat of pollution require strong governance. We need to work together and take the lead globally. In this ‘super year for nature’, it is vital to reach a collective agreement on an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework built on overarching goals and smart targets, strong monitoring and review mechanisms and effective means of implementation.
Both sides discussed ways to enhance cooperation on environmental issues where closer coordination between the EU and China can lead to progress at national and multilateral levels. They acknowledged the importance of continued EU-China collaboration to address urgent and shared environmental challenges and promote opportunities for green recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Sinkevičius highlighted the importance of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, while Minister Huang referred to China’s guiding philosophy of ecological civilization and the Master Plan for the Major Projects for the Protection and Restoration of National Key Ecosystems. In view of the Commission’s upcoming legislative proposal on deforestation, the EU expressed interest in working with China to promote sustainable, deforestation-free supply chains globally. In addition, the leaders discussed ways to enhance the role of public and private investments in biodiversity action, including through the principle of ‘do-no-significant harm’ to the environment.
Both sides also discussed pollution as a transboundary problem and a shared concern. In efforts to build better understanding and identify potential areas for cooperation, they touched upon air pollution, industrial emissions, chemicals as well as marine plastics pollution. More specifically, Commissioner Sinkevičius drew attention to the forthcoming Commission adoption of a Zero Pollution Action Plan and called for joining forces towards a global agreement on plastics through a dedicated resolution at the resumed session of UNEA5 in February 2022. China expressed its keen interest to enhance collaboration on the control and management on new chemical substances.
Stressing the importance of protecting both sea and land, the Commissioner called on China to join the large group of countries supporting the adoption of new large-scale Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean, where the EU and its Member States are proposing to establish the East Antarctica and Weddell Sea Marine Protected Areas.
There will be specific follow up activities on important areas of cooperation such as on biodiversity conservation on land forests and seas, air quality, harmful chemicals and plastic pollution.
Since 2003, the Environment Policy Dialogue has been held at ministerial level. This high-level dialogue gives partners the opportunity to discuss how to accelerate bilateral collaboration to better respond to common challenges and support a global transition to a resource-efficient model including topics like biodiversity, water and circular economy.
- Publication date
- 27 April 2021
- Directorate-General for Environment