China hosts UN biodiversity talks

The 15th conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP15, opened in the southern Chinese city of Kunming on Monday.

The talks are aimed at adopting a new global biodiversity framework to replace the one with the 2020 target date adopted at the 2010 conference in Aichi, Japan.

The biennial meeting opened after a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic. More than 190 countries and territories are listed as parties to the convention.

At the opening ceremony, Chinese Vice Premier and COP15 chair Han Zheng highlighted his country's achievements in protecting biodiversity. He said natural reserves on land in China account for 18 percent of the country's land area, above the target set in Aichi.
He also cited as an example of progress a 10-year ban on fishing in the Yangtze River, home to numerous indigenous species.

The conference is split into two parts to mitigate the risk of coronavirus infections. The first part is mostly made up of online ministerial talks and will continue through Friday. The second part will include face-to-face meetings to finalize a new framework and will be held from late April to early May next year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a video message at Tuesday's session. Observers say China is attempting to present itself as a country that mediates conflicts of interest between developed and developing nations over a new biodiversity framework.