China has pledged 230 million US dollars (£169 million) to establish a fund to protect biodiversity in developing countries.
President Xi Jinping, speaking via video to a UN conference in the Chinese city of Kunming, called on other countries to contribute to the Kunming Biodiversity Fund.
The week-long meeting marks the formal start of a new round of global talks on protecting the world’s plants and animals from extinction.
A second and final session that will try to agree on targets for the next 10 years is scheduled to be held in Kunming from April 25 to May 8 next year.
The world has failed to reach most of the current 10-year goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in Japan in 2010.
Greenpeace, the environmental group, said countries need to focus on not just setting new targets but also meeting them.
“The Kunming Biodiversity Fund launched today should jump-start an urgently needed conversation on biodiversity finance,” it said in a statement.
One 2010 goal was achieved: About one sixth of the planet’s land and freshwater area now lies within protected or conservation areas, according to a UN report released in May.
President Xi said that China is speeding up the building of a natural conservation system with a new national park system as its core.
China, after decades of head-long economic growth, has made progress in protecting habitat and wildlife in recent years.
It has set up protected areas and seen recoveries in the population of the giant panda and other species.
China also tightened control of the wildlife trade after the outbreak of Covid-19, because of possible links to it.
Other leaders who spoke to the conference on Tuesday included Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
The meeting, originally scheduled for October 2020, was postponed twice because of the pandemic.