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EU-China Biodiversity Program Signed

The EU-China Biodiversity Program was signed in Beijing on Monday, with a commitment from the EU to donate 30 million euros to help China reduce biodiversity losses.

"Biodiversity in China has both significance and considerable local economic and cultural value," said Stavros Dimas, European Commissioner for Environment, at the signing ceremony.

He said China is one of ten "mega-diverse" countries in terms of biodiversity, with approximately 10 percent of all species.

Implemented mostly by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the five-year program aims to support China in managing its ecosystem sustainably and contribute to the implementation of international conventions.

Its activities will mainly cover western and southern provinces, focusing on desert, alpine and plateau, tropical and sub-tropical and agricultural ecosystems.

"This is an unprecedented large scale government-led initiative to address China's biodiversity conservation challenges," said Alessandra Tisot, UNDP senior deputy resident representative in China.

She said the UNDP would contribute US$500,000 to the program with a total budget of close to 52 million euros.

"The Chinese government is committed to reversing biodiversity losses in the country," said Zhu Guangyao, deputy director of the SEPA, noting the program will help China develop capacity in the regard and in fulfilling its obligations to international environmental agreements.

(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2005)

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