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12 October 2021

Charles calls on nations to take ‘bold’ decisions to help regenerate land

12 October 2021

The Prince of Wales will urge nations to take “bold decisions” to help regenerate the planet when he addresses the UN Biodiversity Conference being hosted by China.

Charles will deliver his speech remotely at the event – known as Cop15 – being staged in a country he has yet to officially visit.

Clarence House has said the prince was invited by China’s President Xi Jinping to offer opening remarks in recognition of his work over the last 50 years raising awareness about climate change.

When we protect lands and ocean, we in fact protect ourselves

The heir to the throne will tell delegates: “It is a humbling realisation that everything we need to survive – the food we eat, the water we drink, the oxygen we breathe – depends on the work of other species and the ecosystems they create.​“When we protect lands and ocean, we in fact protect ourselves: nature bounces back, bringing with her all the benefits on which life depends.”

Charles, who will join the Queen and other members of the royal family at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next month, commented on the target adopted by some countries of conserving 30% of the Earth by 2030.

He added: “This is why the 30 by 30 target is so critical. Time is not on our side. So I can only urge you to take the bold decisions that can regenerate hundreds of millions – if not billions – of hectares of degraded land throughout the world, thus protecting and restoring our planet’s biodiversity and making nature the engine of our economies.​“Let us, therefore, translate commitments and pledges into transformative action on the ground and make Cop15 and Cop26 the game changers the world so desperately needs.”

Camilla and Charles host Chinese President Xi Jinping during his 2015 state visit (Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA) (PA Archive)

His virtual appearance followed an interview with the BBC in which Charles said he understood why climate campaign groups such as Extinction Rebellion stage protests and block roads, but suggested they should take a less disruptive approach.

The prince has had a difficult relationship with China’s leadership in the past but it appears to be on a firmer footing with President Xi, who he met during the Chinese leader’s 2015 state visit to the UK.

Charles’s thoughts on Beijing’s past leadership are well known after he described them as “appalling old waxworks” in extracts from his journal.

Entitled The Handover Of Hong Kong – Or The Great Chinese Takeaway, it was written by the heir to throne after he visited Hong Kong in 1997 for the ceremony marking the formal handover of the colony to China.

Charles releases a rehabilitated turtle into the sea in Malta (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

In 1999, the prince was accused of boycotting a Chinese state visit to the UK by failing to attend the return banquet held for the then-president Jiang Zemin, who two years earlier attended the Hong Kong ceremony.

A decade later the relationship appeared to be changing and Charles held his first private meeting with a Chinese leader in the UK, sitting down with then-president Hu Jintao’s during his 2009 state visit.

Cop15 will take place over the next five days in the Chinese City of Kunming with a second round at the same venue next spring.

Negotiators are tasked with agreeing a new set of goals for nature over the next 10 years but none of the world’s last targets for protecting wildlife, which were set in Aichi, Japan, in 2010, have been met.

In his speech Charles will also highlight how for millennia Chinese culture has had “an intimate understanding of nature”, and he will also propose three challenges for world leaders: putting nature first, adopting a “polluter pays” principle, and changing how we use land and produce food.

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