Razan Al Mubarak: indigenous people and youth must be empowered to protect biodiversity

'No brainer' to work with indigenous communities to care for environment

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.
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Indigenous communities and young people must be empowered in order to protect the world’s biodiversity, says Razan Al Mubarak, the president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

While many threats to biodiversity are global – for instance climate change and wildlife trafficking – Ms Mubarak said many were local, highlighting the importance of “small, targeted” funding that could be better used by communities and authorities.

“We talk about empowerment. Two particular groups give me hope,” Ms Mubarak, who is also the managing director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Envrionment Agency, told the Paris Peace Forum.

“Indigenous peoples, they occupy the most biodiverse corners of our planet. In fact, they occupy areas that have 80 per cent of biodiversity globally.

“So for me, it's an absolute no-brainer to genuinely empower indigenous communities, not just as an afterthought, but really as part and parcel of the strategic planning for protected areas.”

Ms Mubarak said indigenous groups would help implement the 30 by 30 initiative, which seeks to designate 30 per cent of the planet as protected or conservation areas by 2030.

“The other group is youth. I’ve spent a number of years now engaging with youth. Youth have the energy, have new ideas on how best to engage on both the climate change agenda and the biodiversity agenda.”

On finance, she said it perhaps should be looked at on two levels. On a macro level to tackle the broader, bigger issues, but also at getting funding to the micro level.

“Sometimes the micro level is not sophisticated or big enough to accept large financial donations. We need small targeted financial donations that are able to be received by communities, by local governments” and can be effectively implemented.

Much of the global focus in recent weeks has been on the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, where world leaders and negotiators are seeking to agree ambitious action to keep global warming to a minimum.

Ms Mubarak said nature-based solutions to climate change had the ability to significantly mitigate the emissions that are blamed for global warming.

There is no one nature-based solution, but they can include efforts to address poor land or resource use, and support sustainable farming.

Updated: November 14, 2021, 3:36 AM