Sustainable Cities Key to Efforts to Cut Down Emissions

Her Excellency Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP28, shared her thoughts on how cities can contribute to solving the climate challenge during an appearance at the Sustainable Cities in Action Forum 2024.

Held on 5 March at Expo City Dubai, the event brought under one roof urban planners, architects, city officials and other relevant stakeholders for discussions on how to create more prosperous, equitable, low-carbon and climate-resilient cities.

Ms. Al Mubarak, who is also President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), engaged in a fireside chat with Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation.

According to Ms. Al Mubarak, cities are essential to the success of global efforts to avert the worst impacts of climate change:

“Cities host more than half of the world’s population and produce the majority of greenhouse emissions. Besides their significant contribution to the problem, cities are also part of the solution. They are centers of incredible innovation where mayors and businesses can test and scale the planning and design solutions and the technologies we need for a low-carbon future.”

Ms. Al Mubarak commended the Built Environment Sustainability Blueprint Report issued by the Emirates Green Building Council, saying it is an example of how the public and private sectors can join hands to build more sustainable cities. She added:

“This work aligns with the UAE’s vision for a sustainable future and demonstrates how environmental  stewardship can be an economic driver.”

“Humanity Should Rethink its Relationship with the Planet:” Razan Al Mubarak

Her Excellency Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, has given a keynote address on 3 March 2024 at the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

In her speech, Ms. Al Mubarak, who is also President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, reflected on the theme of the annual global cultural event, “A Matter of Time,” saying it is poignant as a point of reflection about humanity’s relationship with nature.

Ms. Al Mubarak touched upon the “profound sense of urgency” which evokes the need for action. In addition, she said, by re-examining the concept of time, humanity can heal its relationship with nature.

“The pace of our modern life is out of sync with the rhythm of nature. In other words, we are using our planet’s resources approximately two times faster than the Earth can replenish or regenerate, and we are emitting more carbon than our planet is able to sequester.”

Solving the challenge requires urgent action to transform the energy sector, address the negative environmental impacts of food production systems, and reshape humanity’s relationship with nature with conserving and restoring habitats becoming a priority. Yes, despite the challenge, Ms. Al Mubarak said there was still time to act.

These tasks will require the engagement of all nations and sectors of society: “governments, private sector, scientists, indigenous people, visionaries.” Cultural institutions, she said, were key in supporting the needed shift in humanity’s relationship with nature.

“All of you around the room, including the incredible cultural institutions locally and globally bear a monumental responsibility and opportunity to profoundly connect these topics together, to inspire people to work together, to foster meaning and new narratives that will eventually and crucially manifest to behavioral shifts that culminate in the systemic reform that we all need and to turn the tide in favor of a sustainable, equitable and verdant future.”

Watch Ms. Al Mubarak’s full keynote address at the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi here.

Razan Al Mubarak Highlights the Power of Culture to Shift Perceptions on Climate in an Op-Ed for The National

In a recent piece written on the occasion of the Cultural Summit 2024, held in Abu Dhabi, H. E. Razan Al Mubarak reflected on the role of cultural institutions in shifting public perceptions on climate and nature and boosting actions to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Ms. Al Mubarak, who is President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, said the world needed “a sharp increase in renewable energy, heightened energy efficiency, a responsible shift away from fossil fuels and a renewed commitment to preserving nature.”

Despite the progress achieved during the UN climate talks in Dubai last year, more needs to be done, said Ms. Al Mubarak. There is a funding gap of nearly $1 trillion per year for climate and nature preservation and restoration projects. More importantly, however, decision-makers and society as a whole need to expand their focus, considering the well-being of future generations instead of only considering short-term goals.

According to Ms. Al Mubarak, cultural institutions possess “a unique power to inspire change…by fostering a deep connection with people and communities, cultural institutions can bridge the gap between traditional knowledge and action, transforming the way we understand and respond to the environmental crisis,” she wrote.

In addition, cultural institutions can turn “scientific data into compelling narratives that resonate with a broad audience, sparking a collective movement towards sustainability”, she said.

“In this critical moment, we are called to choose the legacy we will leave behind. Will we be remembered as the generation that stood by as our planet suffered, or as the pioneers who rose to meet the greatest challenge of our time? The decision is ours, and the time to act is now.”

Read the full article by Razan Al Mubarak in The National.