Who are the three leading Emiratis inspiring us to save the planet at Cop28?

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Razan Al Mubarak and Shamma Al Mazrui have campaigned to protect the environment for a better and sustainable future

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Razan Al Mubarak and Shamma Al Mazrui. Photo: The National
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The UAE will take on a leading role in the fight for climate change action when it hosts the United Nations Cop 28 summit in November.

A raft of agencies, companies, non-profit organisations and individuals are already in the fight to propel environmental activism forward and demand action on climate change.

But there are three powerful people who have championed the cause and will lead during the crucial Cop28 talks.

Here is a look at their work as the UAE prepares to host Cop28 between November 30 and December 12.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber

The fight against climate change must be pragmatic and sustainable, and no country is able to make the transition to clean energy at the “flip of a switch”, says Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who was appointed as the UAE's special envoy for climate change in November 2020 and has now been named President-Designate for Cop28 UAE.

Dr Al Jaber, who is also Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc, speaking in September before Cop27 in Egypt, stressed that energy security and climate action should go hand in hand.

“Even in a net-zero-emissions world, energy security requires that oil and gas be part of the mix,” he told The National.

“We have a responsibility to the billions of people of the world to ensure they have access to energy.”

Dr Al Jaber has extensive experience in advocacy on environment-related matters, having led the clean-energy agenda for more than 15 years.

At Adnoc, he oversaw a transformation of the state-owned producer over the past four years that has made it a more efficient and technology-led organisation.

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Adnoc is currently one of the top five lowest greenhouse gas emitters in the oil and gas industry and has one of the lowest methane intensities in the world.

It is also expanding its carbon capture, utilisation and storage programme.

Dr Al Jaber is chairman of Abu Dhabi's clean-energy company Masdar, which since 2006 has become one of the largest and fastest-growing renewable energy businesses in the world, active in more than 40 countries and with a global portfolio of projects that have a combined 15 gigawatts of clean electricity-generating capacity.

As Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, Dr Al Jaber says the future will be focused on achieving comprehensive Emirati industrial activity, led by major national development sectors.

Future plans will create an appropriate economic system and promote public-private partnerships that will boost the UAE’s stature as a global capital of future industries.

"The UAE government is building a global economic base by developing local supply chains, manufacturing new products, and intensifying the efforts to support national industry and increase the competitiveness of national products,” Dr Al Jaber said in November.

Razan Al Mubarak

“Time for procrastination is over. We must be bold, we must be fast, and we must innovate, armed with optimism and humility of the heart,” Razan Al Mubarak said in a video speech as an International Union for Conservation of Nature presidential candidate on September 3, 2021.

A few days later, she was elected the first Arab woman and the second woman in the world to lead the 74-year-old conservation organisation.

Ms Al Mubarak has long been a leader on environmental issues and was chosen to lead the union based on her work to protect endangered species worldwide. She has been appointed Cop28 UAE UN Climate Change High-level Champion.

She has fought for stronger laws to protect the environment and has worked incessantly to raise awareness about sustainable development.

She is also the managing director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. In 2018, the World Economic Forum selected her as one of the top 100 Young Global Leaders for her contribution to building a more sustainable future for humankind.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 30 SEPTEMBER 2018. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Enviroment Agency, Abu Dhabi, at the Artificial Intelligence Conference. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Alkesh Sharma. Section: Business.

Ms Al Mubarak is also the managing director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, which provides grants for the protection of endangered species worldwide. In addition, she is the managing director of Emirates Nature–WWF, a UAE-based affiliate of the World Wide Fund for Nature.

As head of the EAD, she was instrumental in the implementation of the successful breeding of captive Scimitar-horned oryx in Abu Dhabi and reintroducing them back into the wild in Chad.

Her efforts helped to increase the number of animals in their natural habitat and saved the species that was listed as extinct in the wild.

With Ms Al Mubarak at the helm, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has supported thousands of projects in more than 160 different countries benefiting more than 1,300 different species and subspecies of animals, some pulled back from the brink of extinction.

Under her leadership, Emirates Nature–WWF undertook the most comprehensive coral reef mapping in western Asia, pioneering research and conservation efforts to protect marine turtles.

She was crucial in establishing Wadi Wurayah National Park, the first in the UAE.

She is also a strong supporter of inclusivity in the fight against climate change.

At Cop27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Ms Al Mubarak joined world leaders in launching a global initiative that will co-ordinate efforts to address climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss through nature-based solutions.

She also supports the transition to green technologies in the race towards net zero.

Ms Al Mubarak believes the only way to solve a problem like biodiversity loss is to ensure that all stakeholders have a seat at the table – women, young people, those from all geographies and indigenous peoples who protect more than 80 per cent of Earth’s biodiversity.

Shamma Al Mazrui

Shamma Al Mazrui was appointed Minister of State for Youth Affairs in February 2016 at the age of 22, making her the world’s youngest cabinet minister at the time of her appointment.

She inspires young people to take a stand against climate change and try to make a positive change. She has been appointed Cop28 UAE Youth Climate Chamption.

Shamma Al Mazrui talks about pressing environmental challenges at the inaugural Global Media Congress held in Abu Dhabi in November. Antonie Robertson / The National

She was a part of the delegation that accompanied President Sheikh Mohamed during his visit to France in July 2022.

During the visit, Ms Al Mazrui met the youth minister of France and Emirati students attending universities there. They talked about the empowerment of young people ready to help to shape the green agenda before the UAE's hosting of the Cop28.

She believes the pressing environmental challenges facing the globe should be the “most critical story every single day”.

“How can we talk about the future of the media if the future of the planet is on the line? And we are not bold enough to feature it as the most critical story every single day?” the minister asked during her address at the inaugural Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi in November.

As the chair of the Emirates Youth Council and the Vice Chair of the Arab Youth Centre, she ensures that all ministries and decision-makers incorporate the needs of young people while making policies.

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Updated: January 13, 2023, 10:16 AM
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