An Emirati official has been appointed to lead the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – a major global environmental organisation.
Razan Al Mubarak was elected president on Wednesday at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, after a two-year international election campaign.
The highly respected conservationist is managing director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and managing director of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.
Ms Al Mubarak is only the second woman elected to lead the organisation in its 72-year history and is the first president from the Arab region since 1978.
“I am truly honoured to have been elected as the 15th president of the IUCN, especially in this critical moment when we need to elevate nature conservation to the forefront of the global sustainability agenda," Ms Al Mubarak said.
"I am grateful to the UAE leadership and its institutions for their support, trust, confidence, and their belief not only in me but in the importance of elevating the issue of nature conservation globally."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, paid tribute to Ms Al Mubarak.
"I am very proud of Emirati conservationist, Razan Al Mubarak for being appointed head of International Union for the Conservation of Nature. We are very proud of our national cadres, our environmental achievements and the daughters of our nation," he said.
She will succeed Zhang Zinsheng of China and serve a four-year term.
IUCN is a major global environmental organisation, with 1,400 members representing 150 countries. It has special status as a permanent observer member at the UN General Assembly.
It is best known publicly for maintaining the Red List of Threatened Species.
"I am truly honoured to pay homage to a conservation journey commenced by our forefathers and foremothers, led by our founder, the late Sheikh Zayed and institutionalised by so many organisations in the UAE which have continued to nurture and embrace this rich legacy of nature and its conservation," she said.
Youngest person to run an Abu Dhabi government agency
Ms Al Mubarak began her career in conservation in 2001 when she helped to establish Emirates Nature WWF, an NGO associated with the World Wildlife Fund.
At EN-WWF, she led initiatives to protect the UAE’s coral, conducted research leading to the establishment of the UAE’s first mountain national park, and created the framework to protect nesting and migrating sea turtles.
In 2010, Ms Al Mubarak became the youngest person to lead an Abu Dhabi government entity with her appointment as secretary general of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), where she serves on the board as managing director.
The EAD, where she leads a government agency of more than 1,000 employees, was instrumental in the successful reintroductions of the Arabian oryx in UAE and the scimitar-horned oryx in Chad.
Mohamed Al Bowardi, vice-chairman of EAD and deputy chairman of the MBZ Fund, said: "Thanks to her passionate, innovative, and decisive leadership, the MBZ Fund has become a global model, showing the world that small but focused interventions on the ground can make a big difference in saving species."
Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri re-elected to IUCN
Meanwhile, Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri, secretary-general of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), has been re-elected Regional Councillor for West Asia of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for a second term.
She was re-elected to the position at the World Conservation Congress which was in Marseilles and will be a member of the new Council of the Federation for the period from 2021-2024.
Dr Al Dhaheri was the only female candidate from the region running for re-election and was one of only six female candidates from the 28 elected global councillors.
The IUCN brings together the world’s most influential organisations and top experts to conserve nature and accelerate the transition to sustainable development.