Razan Al Mubarak Elected to IUCN President

On September 8, 2021 Razan Al Mubarak was elected IUCN President for a 4-year term. Watch Ms. Al Mubarak’s acceptance speech at the conclusion of IUCN World Conservation Congress 2021 or read the transcription below.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and my fellow IUCN members,

I am truly humbled and honored to stand before you this evening at the closing ceremony of the 2021 World Conservation Congress as your newly elected president and I pledge to live up to this great responsibility and to earn your trust at this critical moment for the planet.

As I begin my address, I'd like to first thank the great city of Marseille and our gracious host, the country of France for their truly amazing hospitality and for prioritizing our health and safety for those who were able to attend in person. Thank you. And on behalf of us all, I'd also like to thank and raise our hats to the incredible team at the IUCN Secretariat for making this Congress a great success.

As we've heard, this hybrid Congress exceeded all of our expectations, both in terms of turnout, but also in terms of voting participation. In fact, more members cast their votes in these elections than during any of the past three three Congresses. Thank you. This would not have happened without your relentless dedication and effort. Chapeau!

But this success, in turn, is a reflection of the extraordinary dedication of our members, who despite the challenges attended virtually or in person to reconnect with colleagues, to reconnect with the IUCN extended family, and who voted virtually or in person to advance the democratic values of the IUCN and who contributed in person or virtually to unite and galvanize our collective efforts to protect nature. Shukran. Merci. Thank you. Y muchas gracias.

Mr. Bruno, the IUCN director general. You have successfully navigated our beloved organization in the eye of a global pandemic storm and I strive to take on the reins of the presidency as quickly and as efficiently as you have done. It is our joint responsibility to complement each other's strengths, to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the president and the director general are clear and well defined and to work hand in hand to bring harmony to the council, to the secretariat, to the regional offices, and of course, to the regional and national committees. This will help ensure that we all work together synergistically, efficiently, effectively, with transparency and integrity, with a sense of urgency and never losing sight of what nature demands of IUCN. 

I also, too, want to take this opportunity to recognize the nine years of service of our former president, Mr. Zhang Xingsheng, who joined us virtually from China throughout this Congress and continues to show his commitment through his words and through his actions.

And for the newly elected council, congratulations. Our work starts now. Tomorrow is our first council meeting, and it will be critical to establish from the very beginning our common commitment to protecting nature, our duty to all our members, and our obligation to cooperation, to professionalism and to authenticity. 

Our members have not only put their trust in us to serve the union, but ultimately they have put their trust in us to serve nature. Ladies and gentlemen, we've all agreed that nature needs IUCN to step up. We need an IUCN that is visionary, willing to take strong, bold, ambitious steps. And let us not forget that it was IUCN that was at the foundation of what we know nature conservation to be. It is time to reignite the spirit of innovation, a nothing-is-impossible attitude whilst embracing the values of compassion, inclusivity, respect and diversity.

Ladies and gentlemen, caring for nature and biodiversity is our ethical duty, not just a scope of work. We need to accept in our core the contribution of nature to humanity. It is our duty to fight for nature, not only because of what it does for us, but for its own sake, its own intrinsic value.

And finally, I stand before you as the first Arab woman president in IUCN history. And for this, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for entrusting me with this great responsibility and in doing so, inspiring the countless women and young people of West Asia, North Africa and around the world who aspire to accomplish their dreams. You are our future and our greatest hope for a better tomorrow.

As we depart from here, both physically and virtually, I wish you and your loved ones to be safe and healthy, and I also wish that you take the spirit of this event with you to the next quadrennium to ensure that the IUCN community progresses its mission with a sense of urgency, with a sense of purpose, and with a sense of hope that this moment demands.

Thank you very much.

Video Message from Razan Al Mubarak, IUCN Presidential Candidate

“Bonjour. Salaam aleikum. Buenos días. And hello.

Today marks the moment that we've all been waiting for for so long. The opening of the World Conservation Congress, both in-person in beautiful Marseille, or virtually from all over the world. But in person or virtually, we've all pledged to participate, to engage, to vote. Because not only do we carry IUCN, its mission, its vision, and its promise in our hearts and in our minds, but because this is truly a moment in history where we must bring conservation in the mainstream of the sustainability agendas. Where we must democratize the science and art of conservation by making it accessible for all. Now is the time for IUCN to really reassert itself and its influence on the global stage and bring back this grand vision of the Union, the one that we all signed up for.

If elected, I will be the second woman to lead the Union in its 75-year history and its first president from West Asia. I know firsthand that a diversity of voices equals strength. Should I be elected, I will endeavor to build a more diverse and more inclusive, and a more proactive IUCN. A Union by the members, for the members. One that acts with both a sense of urgency and purpose that this moment demands and future requires.

As president, I will bring two decades of diverse conservation experience both from the public and private sectors. And I have come to understand the challenges facing the Union through my 20-year engagement with the IUCN as a member, as a framework donor, and a strong supporter to the SSC. And I will endeavor to bring a fresh and energetic perspective to address those challenges.

We all agree that the time for procrastination is over and that we must be bold, we must be fast and we must innovate. Armed with the optimism and the humility of the heart, we can ensure that IUCN is a more effective advocate for nature conservation, and I have no doubt that we will succeed together. For nature needs us and we need nature.

Please remember to cast your vote wherever you may be. Thank you again for your consideration. Thank you for your support. Speaking to you throughout the campaign has truly been an honor of a lifetime.”

Watch the Video Message from Razan on YouTube