Opening remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at the Ecological Civilization Forum of the 15th Conference of the Parties Convention on Biological Diversity, 14 October 2021, Kunming, People’s Republic of China


Distinguished Participants, Colleagues, and Friends:

The world is at a critical turning point. If we are to reverse the alarming decline in nature, we must respond with urgency and coordinated action. These efforts are needed to ensure the survival of our ecosystems, and for the sake of our shared future and prosperity.

I am honored to participate in today’s ceremony to discuss these important issues with you as we mark the opening of COP15. I would like to extend my special appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), especially the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the CBD Secretariat for organizing and co-hosting this event.

I. ADB’s service to Asia and the Pacific on nature

Let me begin by noting that Asia and the Pacific is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. It is home to 17 of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots, seven of the 17 megadiverse countries, and the greatest marine diversity.

If restored and well managed, these natural capital assets can help to mitigate global climate change and biodiversity loss in a cost-effective and impactful manner.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is uniquely positioned to help accelerate nature-positive investment in Asia and the Pacific. Through ADB’s Nature Positive Investment Roadmap, we are working with partners to:

  • scale up finance; 
  • develop knowledge of natural capital; and 
  • generate financially sustainable projects that deliver on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. 

II. Achieving prosperity through nature-positive investment

At these meetings, we will share with you the progress being made on ADB’s new Natural Capital Lab, developed in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Science and Stanford University.

This innovative lab is helping to identify and address key constraints to accounting for and valuing nature accurately. Mainstreaming the lab’s shared methods would be a tremendous achievement, as it would ensure that policymakers, the private sector, and all other stakeholders give natural capital equal weight to that of GDP, exports, government revenues, and other measures of national wealth.

I am also happy to announce that ADB will launch the Regional Flyway Initiative later today. This encompasses 22 countries from the Arctic Circle to New Zealand and will preserve and expand 30 crucial wetlands along the largest migratory route in Asia, while also improving climate resilience in local communities and cities.

Let me also report strong progress supporting our commitment to $5 billion in nature-positive investment through ADB’s Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies, including the launch of our first Blue Bond. In addition, our long-term programs—the Yangtze River Economic Belt Initiative, and the Yellow River Ecological Corridor and High-Quality Development Framework—continue to make an impact, thanks to our many partners.

And last, I want to highlight a new ADB report, Greening Development in the People’s Republic of China, which outlines the ongoing cooperation between ADB and the PRC. I am encouraged by the report’s focus on how green development and ecological restoration are compatible with economic and social priorities.


With that, let me wish you productive discussions on these topics and future initiatives to help to usher in a new era of nature-positive investment. We at ADB look forward to working on this with you.