Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Dubai [UAE], May 24 (ANI/WAM): Razan Al Mubarak is presiding over the 109th Council Meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which began yesterday and will run until May 25.

Al Mubarak, who has been at the forefront of important local and international environmental initiatives for years, was elected to a four-year term as President of IUCN in September 2021. She is the second woman to lead the prestigious conservation organisation and the first one from the Arab world.

One of the key issues on the agenda in Gland, Switzerland, this week is incorporating nature and biodiversity conservation into the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) process. COP28 will take place at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023.

"It is already a fact that species are going extinct as a direct result of climate change," said Al Mubarak, who also serves as UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for the leadership team of COP28 UAE.

"Rising levels of greenhouse gasses and the corresponding temperature rise and other adverse effects are putting additional pressure on thousands of species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species," she said. "At the same time, natural ecosystems provide key services that can help address the climate challenge. They store carbon and protect people from the worst effects of climate hazards like sea-level rise, flooding, heatwaves and droughts.""Because of all this, exploring the convergence of agendas between biodiversity and climate change is a logical and critical step," said Al Mubarak.

IUCN council meetings are typically held twice a year with the most recent one taking place in Abu Dhabi this January. As the President, Al Mubarak's role is to convene the Council, facilitate discussion, recognise alternative viewpoints, represent IUCN members and help build consensus among council members.

The IUCN is one of the main proponents of the idea that nature-based solutions are a key part of the effort to keep global warming well below the threshold of 2C above pre-industrial levels agreed through the UN framework. Besides reducing emissions, nature-based solutions - like dealing with deforestation, restoring ecosystems and improving farm management - will also reinforce adaptation measures as humanity deals with some inevitable climate change impacts. For example, the IUCN estimates that nature-based solutions could reduce the intensity of climate and weather-related hazards by almost a third.

There have already been some efforts to incorporate nature-based solutions into the UN climate change negotiations. At the end of last year, during COP27 in Egypt, the host country together with Germany and the IUCN, rolled out the ENACT initiative. This voluntary coalition of state and civic actors is coordinating global efforts to apply nature-based solutions to deal with climate change, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. One outcome is the publication of an annual State of Nature-Based Solutions Report. The first issue of the report is expected to be shared at COP28 in the UAE.

In the UAE, Al Mubarak, who is also the Managing Director of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, has been an active champion of the idea that restoring natural habitats is not only good for biodiversity but for climate and livelihoods, too. EAD hasbeen a pioneer in studying and protecting mangrove habitats and seagrass beds and raising awareness about their strategic importance for the UAE.

The UAE has been a strong supporter of IUCN for decades. Abu Dhabi is a former framework donor to the organisation and has hosted Specialist Group Chairs meetings of the IUCN Species Survival Commission on four occasions since 2008.

UAE-based IUCN members include the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Ain Zoo, International Fund for Conservation of Houbara, as well as the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Emirates Nature - WWF, and the Emirates Environmental Group. (ANI/WAM)

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