Biodiversity is facing significant threats, including an estimated loss of 10,000 species each year due to extinction. But there is an opportunity for a better future, and the leadership of young people is essential to that effort, according to IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak.
In a speech to World Youth Development Forum in Beijing on July 22, 2022, Ms. Al Mubarak highlighted the importance of giving young people more opportunities to be part of the decision-making process.
"I'm part of a generation that is making decisions for a future that I won't be a part of, but the consequences of my generation's decisions will be felt by the youth of today,” said Ms. Al Mubarak. “That’s why we need to build and bridge the gap between the generations so we can benefit from this collective wisdom."
She added: "There is much hope for a better future, but not much time. Youth must collectively agree on your vision for the future and the place you want nature to have in that future. It's critical that youth are given the platform to conceptualize this vision."
Other speakers at the Forum included Andrea Meza Murillo, deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Li Gao, director-general of China’s Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment; and Eric Berglof, Chief Economist of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Read more about the World Youth Development Forum here.
IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak delivered opening remarks at the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress on July 18, 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda.
Noting that twenty-five percent of the world’s biodiversity can be found in Africa, Ms. Al Mubarak highlighted the critical role that Africa’s protected areas can play in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change.
“Well designed and effectively managed and governed protected areas not only serve as bastions for biodiversity, but they fundamentally and crucially fortify our health, our economy, our society, our very identity and culture, and in the context of such a polarized world, they also form and become symbols of our common humanity,” said Ms. Al Muburak.
She added that now is the time to “seize this moment of global environmental interest” to design a new model of conservation where communities are empowered, women and youth are authentically engaged, and science and local knowledge are embraced.
The six-day event was the first ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, and interest groups to discuss the role of Africa’s protected areas. The gathering closed with the adoption of the Kigali Call to Action by more than 2,400 participants. Priority actions include strengthening rights for indigenous peoples and local communities, increasing public and private financial investment in conservation and protected areas, and enhancing Pan-African collaboration towards these ends. In addition, the event resulted in a new $200 billion conservation trust fund, which will help protect around 8,600 protected areas that encompass 26 million square kilometers across the continent.
Watch Ms. Al Muburak’s opening remarks on YouTube.