Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (2): 21262.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021262

• Conservation and Governance • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Conservation of coral reef systems under Convention on Biological Diversity: China’s performance and suggestions

Yi Tang1,2, Haoran Yang1, Yanxuedan Zhang1,2,*()   

  1. 1 College of Marine Culture and Law, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai 201306
    2 Fisheries Law Research and Consulting Center, Shanghai 201306
  • Received:2021-07-03 Accepted:2021-11-04 Online:2022-02-20 Published:2022-02-28
  • Contact: Yanxuedan Zhang


Aims Coral reef ecosystems are important protecting targets under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). Since its accelerated bleaching has attracted enormous attention in 1998, the conservation of coral reef systems has been a significant topic in the Conference of the Parties (COP). To review China’s compliance under CBD, this article explores the following questions: Whether China fulfills its obligations to protect coral reef systems as prescribed under the CBD? What are the challenges for protecting coral reef systems in China by considering the requirements of the CBD? What suggestions are there for improving compliance with the CBD?

Methods A comparative method was applied to identify the compliance gap under the CBD. Relevant reports on the changes of coral reef systems in Hainan, Guangxi and Guangdong province at national and provincial levels were explored. The law, regulations, and compliance reports of coral reef protection at national and provincial level were investigated.

Results The results indicated that China has adopted many specific measures which have reversed the decline of coral reefs in general. However, there are several problems in its compliance, primarily fragmented legislation, the lack of comprehensive strategies and action plans, insufficient adaptation to climate change, inadequate coordination across departments, ineffective management in marine protected areas, low engagement with local communities, unintegrated standards and norms for supervision, poor monitoring data which could not support effective evaluation, little international cooperation, and low public participation.

Suggestions This study suggests that compliance measures should be taken in consistency with the goals and spirits of the CBD, and in consideration of the post-2020 CBD framework. These measures include enhancing domestic legislative framework, comprehensive action plan and capacity to adapt to climate change, strengthening integrated management and coordination, improving the effectiveness in management of MPAs, ensuring better monitoring and data collection, better international cooperation and enhancing public participation.

Key words: Convention on Biological Diversity, coral reefs, compliance