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UN ocean envoy encouraged by China’s source-to-sea ethos

Peter Thomson, the United Nations secretary-general's special envoy for the ocean, speaks at a press conference on the preparations for the 2020 UN Ocean Conference at the UN headquarters in New York, Feb 5, 2020. (WANG JIANGANG / XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – The UN secretary-general's special envoy for the ocean, Peter Thomson, said Sunday that China's increasing attention to the source-to-sea philosophy encouraged him.

Thomson expressed confidence that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework negotiations in China's Kunming next year will receive a strong helping hand from China.

"I am also encouraged by increasing attention being given to the source-to-sea ethos in China, because all around the world we know that the majority of marine pollution emanates from anthropogenic activities on land," Thomson told Xinhua in an interview via email.

"We are all connected," he noted.

I am confident that the high-level opening of COP15 in October will open the door to a fruitful conclusion of the Post-2020 Framework when COP15 resumes its work next year.

Peter Thomson, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for the ocean

Thomson has shown a strong interest in the mangrove restoration in Xiamen, a coastal city in east China's Fujian province.

"I wish to say that I was very impressed when I visited Xiamen to see the extent of mangrove restoration," he said. "Mangroves are bunkers of biodiversity and along with wetlands and seagrass habitats, they are essential for healthy coastal ecosystems."

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Since 1990s, Xiamen has started to protect and restore mangroves and scientifically manage the coastal zone.

Speaking of the importance of maintaining biodiversity, the special envoy said that "along with climate change and the decline of the ocean's health, halting biodiversity loss is the great challenge of our times."

"Biodiversity loss means the diminishment and extinction of life-forms on this planet, a phenomenon that is occurring at an accelerating and deeply concerning rate," Thomson said.

"Most life-forms of this planet are aquatic, having their homes in lakes, rivers, wetlands and the ocean. Like climate change and the decline of the ocean's health, the alarming rate at which we are losing the planet's life-forms is primarily anthropogenic in origin," he added.

The special envoy stressed that "we must stop our war on Nature before it's too late."

Talking about his expectations for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), scheduled to be held in Kunming from Oct 11 to 15, the envoy said, "I am confident that the high-level opening of COP15 in October will open the door to a fruitful conclusion of the Post-2020 Framework when COP15 resumes its work next year."

"It is vital for the protection of life on this planet that the Post-2020 Framework is wide-reaching and robust," he noted.

READ MORE: China to ensure success of UN biodiversity meeting in Kunming

"In my experience at the United Nations, I found that China is a champion of multilateralism and the implementation of international conventions," Thomson said. "I therefore believe the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Post-2020 Framework in Kunming next year will receive a strong helping hand from China."

In 2017, Thomson was appointed as the UN secretary-general's special envoy for the ocean tasked with the responsibility of promoting the implementation of the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference, protecting the ocean and marine resources and boosting sustainable development.