U.N. biodiversity talks end in China's Kunming with new funding pledges

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FILE PHOTO: A giant panda rests on a tree "panda kindergarten", a refuge for baby pandas, inside Bifengxia giant panda base in Ya'an, Sichuan province April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

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KUNMING, China, Oct 15 (Reuters) - China, the European Union and Japan were among countries pledging to spend more on slowing down rapid species loss at talks this week in China to prepare for a new global biodiversity pact.

Nearly 3,000 delegates participated in the "COP15" talks that ended on Friday in the southwestern city of Kunming, with almost 2,500 connecting online, the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a press release.

Further negotiations will take place in Geneva in January before delegates return to Kunming in April to put the finishing touches to a post-2020 deal aimed at "bending the curve of biodiversity loss".

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Apart from the 1.5 billion yuan ($233.21 million) pledged by Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of a new "Kunming Biodiversity Fund", the European Union also said it would double funding for biodiversity.

France and Britain also promised to direct more of their climate budgets to protecting biodiversity, and Japan announced a $17 million extension to its own biodiversity fund.

Huang Runqiu, China's environment minister and the president of COP15, said global environmental governance was facing "unprecedented challenges" as the rate of global species extinction accelerates.

"In short, I think we have achieved more than expected, and we hope the second part of this COP will be even more. These are words," CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema told a closing briefing.

"We are looking forward to see the translation of what is written in these various documents, and what has been pronounced, into real action on the ground. That is what will bend the curve on biodiversity loss."

($1 = 6.4320 yuan)

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Reporting by David Stanway Editing by Frances Kerry

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