Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, participated in a panel discussion titled ‘Ahead of Kunming: Update on the Preparations for the COP15 on Biodiversity’. The session was part of the inaugural edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum that took place in the Saudi capital Riyadh under the theme ‘A New Era of Action: Oasis Alive’.

At the panel, the Minister underscored the importance of upscaling collective action towards achieving the global goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the planet – land and sea – by 2030,  as well as leveraging the capabilities of youth to tackle environmental challenges.

Other panelists included His Excellency Eng Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen AlFadley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, His Excellency Prof Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forests, the Sea and Environment, charged with Climate Change, SDGs and Land-use Planning, and Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The participants discussed the plan and expectations for the upcoming 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, China, and their implications on the global efforts to restore ecosystems and preserve biodiversity. They also reviewed national and regional ambitions and initiatives.  

Her Excellency bint Mohammed Almheiri said: “To sustain the Earth’s biodiversity, we’ll need new protections and better enforcement of the existing ones. Time is not on our side, therefore we need to achieve urgent, transformative change.”

She added: “At the meetings of the working group for the development of the post-2020 framework, the UAE is advocating for the recognition of the role of youth in biodiversity conservation, which is vital for achieving the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity. We also seek to ensure that the implementation process includes measurable indicators to monitor progress.”

The UAE is a member of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People that works to establish an ambitious deal at the CBD COP15 with the aim of reversing the severe trend of biodiversity loss and reviving ecosystems that are critical to the survival of species, including humans. The main goal of the group is to protect 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

The country has also joined the Global Ocean Alliance that seeks to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans through marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2030.

Protected areas play a key role in safeguarding ecosystems that help preserve biodiversity, and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The UAE has 33 terrestrial protected areas that account for over 18 percent of its land territory, and 16 marine protected areas that account for 12 percent of its marine and coastal territory, achieving Aichi Target 11 on both counts.

Several of the UAE’s protected areas have received international recognition. These include 10 Wetlands of International Importance, five Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, and two UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves. In addition, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve features on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas as the first protected area in the region.

Source: APCO Worldwide



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