Welcome to “Ambassadors for Nature”, comprising an informal group of diplomatic missions in Beijing, each of which is endeavouring to manage its embassy premises and grounds in a wildlife-friendly, biodiversity-enhancing way. The initiative was launched at an Ambassadors’ Roundtable hosted at the New Zealand Embassy in July 2022. The aim is to work to align the participating diplomatic missions with the new Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed by more than 190 countries at the 15th meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Montreal in December 2022 under China’s presidency.
On this page can be found: our Pledge for Nature, resources, a list of members and latest news. If you are a representative of a diplomatic mission in Beijing not yet part of the initiative, or indeed from anywhere in the world, why not join us?
Our Pledge for Nature
Embassies and their grounds can be important refuges for urban wildlife. In recognition of the global biodiversity crisis, the Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) COP15 in 2022, and the importance of contributions from all sectors of society we, as ambassadors in Beijing, intend to support nature. Our Embassies will make choices that advance biodiversity. For example, we will seek to:
- Undertake an audit of the wildlife in the grounds of the embassy and other diplomatic premises at least once in each season of the year
- Keep records of wildlife sightings
- When planting, choose native species of tree, shrubs and other plants. We will also assess the plant species already on the embassy grounds and, where practical, over time remove non-native species
- Take at least two of the following measures to support wildlife:
- Reduce and, as far as possible, eliminate the use of pesticides.
- Allocate an area (for example, 10% of the overall area) that can be kept ‘wild’ with minimal management and erect signage explaining this to residents and visitors;
- Make and erect nest boxes for birds and/or insect hotels;
- Help to reduce the risk of bird collisions with glass by using bird-safe glass, ultraviolet patterns or other mitigation measures.
- Promote awareness among diplomatic staff about biodiversity, including information about urban wildlife that can be found in Beijing, and the actions the embassy is taking to support nature.
- Nominate a point of contact responsible for this initiative who can report to the network on the actions of the embassy, arrange the audits and report records of wildlife.
List of Members
Founding members: New Zealand, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Norway, Peru, Romania, Singapore, Slovenia, UK and the United Nations (UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP), UNICEF.
Additional members: Brunei, Denmark, EU, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Malaysia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United States of America, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Partners and Advisors: Dr Wang Xiaoping of the Beijing Forest and Parks Bureau, Professor Lu Zhi of Peking University, ShanShui Conservation Center, Professor Yolanda Van Heezik of Otago University and Terry Townshend of Wild Beijing.
19 September 2023
The Western Academy of Beijing hosted an interactive dialogue between students and diplomats to share experiences about sustainability, including promoting biodiversity. Presentations by students, the founder of Aurora Academy, China’s first zero-waste school, and the Icelandic Ambassador set up the discussion.
Student groups at WAB are leading on delivery of each of the school’s sustainability priorities, including rewilding an area around ‘duck lake’.
The Aurora School, close to the Wenyu River in Chaoyang, is China’s first zero-waste school. An inspirational presentation by its founder, Xie Kang.
The Icelandic Ambassador to China spoke about Iceland’s drive for 100% renewable electricity, primarily driven by national resources such as geothermal energy.
13 September 2023
Uruguay’s Ambassador to China, Fernando Lugris, becomes the 34th member of the Ambassadors for Nature initiative. Welcome, Fernando!
18 August 2023
The Swiss Ambassador, Jurg Burri, has joined the Ambassadors for Nature initiative. Switzerland becomes the 33rd country to join. Here he is receiving his copy of “Birds of Beijing” in front of a (5-star?) insect hotel, recently installed in the embassy grounds.
Swiss Ambassador, Jurg Burri (second from left) receiving his copy of The Birds of Beijing in front of an insect hotel recently installed in the embassy grounds as part of the embassy’s actions to implement the Pledge for Nature.
10 August 2023
Incoming Belgian Ambassador, Bruno Angelet, and his new deputy head of mission, Bart Vodderie, receive their copies of “The Birds of Beijing” and confirm the Belgian Embassy’s ongoing commitment to the Ambassadors for Nature initiative. Bruno has a particular passion for the Swift and is hoping to contribute to promoting the Beijing Swift and its protection during his time in China. Look out for some exciting initiatives coming soon!
Bruno Angelet (right), new Ambassador of Belgium to China, and his deputy, Bart Vodderie, receiving their copies of The Birds of Beijing at the Belgian Embassy on 10 August.
28 July 2023
The Ambassadors for Nature initiative is one year old! To celebrate, H.E. Dr Ann Derwin, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to China, hosted a seminar to commemorate the occasion.
Speakers included 王小平 Dr. Wang Xiaoping, Deputy Director General of Beijing Forest and Parks Bureau, 钱时雨 Qian Shiyu from the Urban Biodiversity team at ShanShui Conservation Center, Chris Liu, a grade 10 student from the Western Academy of Beijing and Irish artist Niamh Cunningham.
H.E. Dr. Ann Derwin, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to China, speaking at the opening of the one year anniversary event.
We heard how the initiative has expanded from 14 original members to 32 today, all of whom have signed up to the Pledge for Nature at ambassadorial level, and about the individual actions at embassies in Beijing, including:
- The Irish embassy allocating a wild area with an area greater than 10% and, in spring, it was awash with colour and a haven for pollinators.
- France initiating a ‘green embassy’ initiative looking at reducing emissions and supporting biodiversity to align with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Global Biodiversity Framework
- The New Zealand embassy piloting ultraviolet patterns on glass windows to help reduce bird collisions
- The Swedish embassy’s elimination of pesticide and herbicide use
- Indonesia’s planting of the embassy grounds using only native species
- US creation of a wildlife pond and planting of native trees and replacing of traditional vehicles with electric vehicles
- UNDP holding capacity building events for staff and making and erecting bird boxes and insect hotels
- Belgian embassy hosting a seminar for embassy gardeners to help share best practice
- …and many more!
The participants also heard about efforts to ‘export’ the initiative to the diplomatic network beyond Beijing, with efforts underway in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Dr. Wang Xiaoping briefed about the new guidelines for the management of parks in Beijing, in particular the recommendation that 10% of the area of parks in urban Beijing should be left ‘wild’ with minimal management, with the target figure increasing to 20% for suburban parks. This was all part of the vision to make Beijing “a capital of biodiversity”.
Dr. Wang Xiaoping, Deputy Director General of the Beijing Forest and Parks Bureau (which manages 71% of Beijing’s landmass) briefed on the city’s efforts to make Beijing “a capital of biodiversity”.
Chris Liu, a grade 10 student at the Western Academy of Beijing, spoke about how the school had adopted the Pledge for Nature and had teams of students leading on various aspects of implementation, including ‘rewilding’ an area around their ‘duck lake’, monitoring wildlife using infrared cameras and photographing and identifying plants and insects using an APP called “Seek”, designing insect hotels and erecting swift boxes.
Qian Shiyu of ShanShui Conservation Center, who arrived straight from a pollinator survey in the Botanical Gardens, briefed about the ‘audits’ of embassy grounds undertaken at the German and Danish embassies and how the team was working with the embassies to implement the recommendations.
Irish artist, Niamh Cunningham, presented samples of her work promoting nature through art, including ‘tree stories’, short videos produced by members of the public about special trees.
During the discussion, attention focused on how to build on the year’s achievements, including the potential for an annual award to recognise and highlight extraordinary efforts, a series of interviews with ambassadors to explore why biodiversity is important to them and to learn more about individual embassies’ activities, the potential to design a short leaflet with the pledge for nature that could be translated into multiple languages to help spread the word, and the importance of involving diplomatic children in embassy initiatives.
With the enthusiasm and energy from the embassies, there is no doubt that year two promises to be an exciting journey!
Thank you so much to Dr. Ann Derwin, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to China, and her team for hosting the event, to the Beijing Municipal Government and ShanShui Conservation Center for their incredible support, to WAB for the excellent collaboration and to all the embassies for fabulous work throughout the last 12 months.
30 May 2023
Irish Ambassador, Dr. Ann Derwin, presents the Ambassadors for Nature initiative in the opening high-level session of a symposium on “Cities and Nature” in Shenzhen, organised in partnership with the Mayor of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Center for International Exchange and Cooperation and Paulson Institute.
22 May 2023
To celebrate World Biodiversity Day, the French Ambassador to China, Bertrand Lortholary, formally joined the Ambassadors for Nature initiative, becoming the 31st member. Watch his video message below.
22 mai ➡️ #biodiversityday 🍃🌳🐼
La France va de l'avance (protection des océans 🐋, lutte contre le plastique @francediplo).
L'Ambassade de 🇫🇷 en 🇨🇳 s'engage aussi au niveau local. #Ambassadeverte + #Ambassadorsfornature avec la 🇳🇿 @GMortonNZ @Laurence_Beau @MFATNZ. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aigjUyPVbr
— La France en Chine 🇫🇷🇪🇺 法国驻华使馆 (@France_en_Chine) May 22, 2023
Ambassador Bertrand Lortholary took his position in Beijing in March 2023. Ambassador Lortholary is personally committed to environmental protection and immediately launched the “Ambassade verte” (Green Embassy) project in order to improve the Embassy’s carbon footprint. Joining the Ambassadors for Nature initiative is the continuation of this project.
French Ambassador to China, Bertrand Lortholary.
5 May 2023
ShanShui Conservation Center carried out an audit of the Danish Embassy premises with a view to presenting suggestions on how to manage the compound in a more nature-friendly way.
28 April 2023
The first Ambassadors for Nature field trip took place on Friday 28th April. The trip was hosted by the Miyun District government and arranged by the Irish Ambassador to China, Ann Derwin, and her team. The group visited the Qingshui River, one of the rivers that drains into Miyun Reservoir, Beijing’s most important drinking water reservoir and a hotspot for migratory waterbirds. As well as a two-hour birding walk, the group heard a presentation from Zhang Dehuai of the Miyun Reservoir Forest and Parks Bureau about ongoing efforts to manage the area for wildlife, including a new project to try to create more habitat for migratory cranes. In addition, Tan Lingdi from ShanShui Conservation Center briefed on the local NGO’s urban conservation work and the results of, and recommendations from, a recent ‘wildlife audit’ of the German Embassy compound.
The group consisted of ambassadors and senior diplomats from Ireland, Denmark, Japan, Latvia, United Nations and United States of America, and there was no doubt about the most popular bird sighting – two roosting Oriental Scops Owls (Otus sunia 红角鸮 Hóng jiǎo xiāo) close to the path.
Huge thanks to the Miyun Foreign Affairs Bureau for hosting the group, to Ambassador Ann Derwin, Republic of Ireland Ambassador to China, and her team, especially Fergus Scott and Meng Li, to Tan Lingdi from ShanShui Conservation Center and to all the participants for joining.
20 April 2023
Following a meeting with the Danish Embassy, the Danish Ambassador to China, Ambassador Thomas Østrup Møller, has joined the Ambassadors for Nature initiative. Welcome!
23 March 2023
The visiting New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, was presented with a copy of the “Birds of Beijjng” by Professor Lv Zhi of Peking University.
7 December 2022
US Ambassador, Nicholas Burns, is the newest member of the Ambassadors for Nature. Here he is receiving a copy of the recently published “Birds of Beijing”. Nicholas and his wife are avid birders and bee-keepers and are looking forward to playing an active role in the group.
2 December 2022
Alenka Suhadolnik, the Slovenian Ambassador to China, hosted a “honey breakfast” to celebrate bees and other pollinators. The breakfast included a short presentation (see slides below this post) from Professor Chen Lihong of the Apicultural Science Association of China (ASAC) covering the value of bees, showcasing the most important native pollen and nectar trees and plants in Beijing. Discussions are underway about the ASAC supporting embassies to host bee hives in their compounds as part of the Ambassadors for Nature initiative. Huge thanks to Alenka and her team for hosting the event.
25 November 2022
The UN Development Programme, led by Resident Representative Beate Trankmann, hosted the latest Ambassadors for Nature meeting at the UN compound in Liangmaqiao. Despite the challenging Covid-related restrictions, the meeting was joined by representatives from France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Slovenia and the US. The meeting was an opportunity to thank Clare Fearnley, outgoing New Zealand Ambassador, for her vision, leadership and energy in setting up the group, to hear about UNDP’s actions so far to manage their compound in a more low carbon and nature-friendly way, and to participate in a screening of a documentary on the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey, followed by a Q&A with Chinese wildlife photographer, Xi Zhinong.
29 October 2022
A seminar on the birds of Beijing, including how to identify the most likely species to be seen in the centre of the city, was held at the New Zealand Embassy on Saturday 29 October. More than 20 representatives from diplomatic missions in Beijing participated.
A PDF of the lecture (without the videos and sounds) can be found here:Bird Identification Workshop for Ambassadors for Nature
29 September 2022
A seminar for diplomatic gardeners, hosted by the Belgian Embassy, to discuss wildlife-friendly gardening and to share experience and ideas.
See the recommendations here, following discussion with ShanShui Conservation Center.
7 July 2022
The Ambassadors for Nature initiative was launched at the New Zealand Embassy involving 14 missions.
For inquiries, please contact us using the form below.
This page is hosted by Wild Beijing on behalf of the Ambassadors for Nature initiative.
Header image: Ambassadors and representatives from diplomatic missions at the launch of the “Ambassadors for Nature” initiative at the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing, July 2022