IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak leads 75th Anniversary Commemoration and 110th Council Meeting

Today, on the 75th Anniversary of the founding of IUCN, Razan Al Mubarak commemorated the organization and led its 110th Council Meeting in the Chateau of Fontainebleau, France, where the International Union for the Conservation of Nature was formally established.

In a heartfelt retrospective of the organization’s journey,  Ms. Al Mubarak highlighted its growth throughout the years and emphasized the relevance of a common conviction:

“IUCN is a global union of an incredibly diverse worldwide membership including 1,400 entities from governments, subnational governments, Indigenous peoples’ groups, and civil society, and 15,000 experts from diverse disciplines. All united to defend a conviction that the world is better, more liveable, more wondrous, healthier, and more resilient when nature and humankind thrive together.”

Ms. Al Mubarak, who is gearing up to represent the COP28 presidency at the end of November, also spoke on the importance of an inclusive approach to conservation:

“The targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Biodiversity Framework and the Paris Agreement must be met with a groundswell of bold action from governments, civil society, indigenous peoples’ organizations, women and youth.”

During the 110th meeting of the IUCN Council, which focused on furthering the development of a 20-year strategic vision for the IUCN, Ms. Al Mubarak stated:

“While the urgency to address environmental challenges has never been greater, we are buoyed by a wave of positive developments. The emergence of global and regional environmental agreements, responsible business practices, financial incentives for nature, and advanced monitoring technologies are beacons of hope, guiding us towards a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

Watch Ms. Al Mubarak’s full speech at the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of IUCN here.

Razan Al Mubarak Announced The Ocean Breakthroughs at the IUCN Leaders Forum

At the recent IUCN Leaders Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak announced an ambitious global marine conservation and climate action initiative – The Ocean Breakthroughs.

Developed by the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and with the support of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, The Ocean Breakthroughs presents specific targets spanning over five key ocean sectors – marine conservation, ocean renewable energy, shipping, aquatic food, and coastal tourism – with the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 percent by 2050.

These targets are:

  • Investing at least $72 billion to protect, restore and conserve at least 30 percent of the ocean;
  • Reaching at least 380 GW of installed offshore wind capacity and ensuring the availability of concessional finance to support renewable energy projects in developing countries;
  • Upskilling 450,000 seafarers, creating climate-adapted ports and achieving 5 percent of zero emission fuels in shipping;
  • Providing at least $4 billion per year in support of resilient aquatic food systems to ensure sustainable and secure food supplies for three billion people;
  • Striving for sustainable coastal tourism.

Ms. Al Mubarak, who is also the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, highlighted how the initiative arrives at a time when humanity is facing a dual challenge: the crisis of biodiversity loss and the ever-escalating threat of climate change:

“With over a quarter of the world’s species threatened with extinction, the situation is dire. Our very survival, from our daily bread and water to protection from extreme weather events, hinges upon a healthy ecosystem. The planet’s capacity to sustain us, to ensure our wellbeing, is critically dependent on halting this ongoing loss of life.”

Although the challenge is significant, Ms. Al Mubarak reflected on the possibility it presents for teamwork and innovation:

“It’s a challenge we are ready for. It also presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate leadership, foster collaboration and design innovative strategies for change on a global scale.”

Learn more about the Ocean Breakthroughs announcement in the official press release.

Razan Al Mubarak Marks Her Second Anniversary as IUCN President

Razan Al Mubarak shared a message to mark her second anniversary as President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In her speech, she highlighted the importance of inclusion to solve the current climate crisis.

“One of the cornerstones of our work for the last two years has been a focus on inclusion. And by inclusion, I don't mean an aspirational touting of petty talking points. I mean real inclusion specifically of women, Indigenous people and youth at the decision-making nexus on the critical issues of both biodiversity loss and climate change.”

Ms. Al Mubarak, who was named the UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP28, also spoke on the importance of nature-based solutions to tackle the current climate crisis:

“To that end, another key principle that I have focused on as we lead up to COP 28 is that very intersection and inevitably the importance of nature based solutions. We at IUCN have spent many years championing the importance of nature based solutions, and I am happy to report that we are making great progress in promoting this very concept on the global stage for the first time at COP28, countries will follow the Paris Agreements mandate to take stock of our collective progress towards achieving the agreement's key goals.

Unfortunately, it is now clear that we are not meeting critical targets. Getting back on track and addressing these gaps will require changes not just in energy and transportation, but also in how we farm, how we build, how we manufacture, and how we invest in conserving and restoring nature. Most nature based solutions are faster and more cost effective than any engineered solutions out there, many of which are still decades away from removing carbon on a scale that's even close to what nature can do.”

Watch Ms. Al Mubarak’s full speech on YouTube.

IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak Leads 109th Council Meeting in Switzerland

Group photo after the 109th Council Meeting in Switzerland.

Razan Al Mubarak, President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), convened the 109th IUCN Council Meeting held in Gland, Switzerland on 23 May 2023. Ms. Al Mubarak, who has been at the forefront of important environmental initiatives, is the second woman and the first representative from the Arab world to lead the organization.

In her statement, Ms. Al Mubarak emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change's impact on species:

“It is already a fact that species are going extinct as a direct result of climate change. Rising greenhouse gas levels and their adverse effects are putting additional pressure on thousands of species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At the same time, natural ecosystems provide key services that can help address the climate challenge. They store carbon and protect people from the worst effects of climate hazards like sea-level rise, flooding, heatwaves and droughts.”

The IUCN is one of the main proponents of the idea that nature-based solutions are a key part of the effort to keep global warming well below the threshold of 2°C above pre-industrial levels agreed through the UN framework. Besides reducing emissions, nature-based solutions – like dealing with deforestation, restoring ecosystems and improving farm management – will also reinforce adaptation measures as humanity deals with some inevitable climate change impacts.

Ms. Al Mubarak, who also serves as UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, focused on integrating nature and biodiversity conservation into the agenda for the upcoming COP28 UAE, scheduled to take place at Expo City Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

In the UAE, Ms. Al Mubarak, who is also the Managing Director of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, has been an active champion of the idea that restoring natural habitats is not only good for biodiversity but for climate and livelihoods, too.

Nearly 100 Conservationists from around the World attend IUCN Council Meeting in Abu Dhabi

On January 18-20, 2023, IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak hosted nearly 100 IUCN Council members, staff, and expert volunteer conservationists from around the world for the 108th IUCN Council Meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The meeting took place just one month after the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, where nations pledged to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and to protect at least 30% of terrestrial and marine areas (30x30). A key focus of discussions was the incorporation of nature and biodiversity conservation into the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) process. COP28 will take place at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. 

Ms. Al Mubarak said: “It was an honor to welcome conservation leaders from around the world to Abu Dhabi. With the UAE as host to COP28 later this year, this was the perfect opportunity to explore the convergence of agendas between biodiversity and climate change.” 

During the meeting, IUCN members also had an opportunity to learn more about the UAE’s leadership in nature conservation, particularly that of UAE-based IUCN members, including the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Ain Zoo, International Fund for Conservation of Houbara, as well as the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Emirates Nature – WWF, and the Emirates Environmental Group.

This marks the fourth time that Abu Dhabi has hosted IUCN functions. Beginning in 2008, and again in 2012, 2015, and 2019, Abu Dhabi sponsored the leadership and planning meetings of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission – an entity responsible for the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Over 200 delegates from around the world convened in Abu Dhabi during each of those four events.

At IUCN Leaders Forum, Razan Al Mubarak delivers vision for a nature-positive global economy

In the first-ever edition of the IUCN Leaders Forum, Razan Al Mubarak delivered the opening remarks and kicked off a three day event discussing IUCN's vision for a nature-positive, global economy and society, and turning this vision into reality. 

The Leaders Forum gathered some of the most powerful voices in the world of climate change and conservation, and included a keynote address by the Former Secretary General of the UN, H.E. Ban Ki Moon, amongst others.

In her remarks, Ms. Al Mubarak highlighted the importance of nature to our economic systems – from pollinators and clean water, to the habitats that shield us from the effects of climate change. She urged that we build momentum around a global framework to halt biodiversity loss by 2030. 

“With the Biodiversity COP15 in Montreal less than two months away, we are approaching a pivotal moment,” said Ms. Al Mubarak. “The challenge we face is no less than to rethink and rebuild our societies and economies to put nature on the path to recovery; we must become nature-positive.”

To that end, Ms. Al Mubarak moderated a panel discussion on the challenges the current negotiations are facing and the potential solutions to build bridges and consensus in the run-up to COP15. Panelists included Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) and Marco Lambertini, Director General, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International.

Ms. Al Mubarak also took part in two sessions that gathered change makers from around the world – including young leaders and innovators from the conservation, finance, tech, development, health and other sectors. The changemakers pitched nature-positive proposals to prospective funders, as well as potential government, private sector, and civil society partners. 

As IUCN President and a fellow IUCN member from West Asia, Ms. Al Mubarak had the opportunity to host a session welcoming the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, along with its sister agency King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority, as IUCN’s most recent Government Agency members.

Ms. Al Mubarak also announced Hyderabad as the Grand Winner of the 2022 World Green City Awards, which recognises initiatives that rely on a greater use of plants and nature to create better city environments, while fulfilling local aspirations for improved economic, social and environmental resilience.

Razan Al Mubarak marks one year anniversary as IUCN President

Just over one year ago, Razan Al Mubarak was elected IUCN’s new president. Her first year in office marks an important milestone and a great opportunity to update you on the progress that IUCN, under her leadership, has made in implementing the resolutions and decisions agreed upon during the Congress, while also laying out goals for the year ahead. 

Ms. Al Mubarak said: “It is more important now than ever to ambitiously advocate on behalf of our planet with the urgency that this moment deserves. The work we do for IUCN and the conservation of nature is vital – and it is not solitary work: together we can contribute to a healthy future for our planet.”

Highlights of the Council’s work of the past year include:

  • The establishment of a Climate Change Commission and the appointment of Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the former Minister of the Environment of Peru, as the Commission’s Interim Chair. In this position, Mr. Pulgar-Vidal will lead the commission in mobilizing and coordinating efforts to address climate change across the Union.
  • In September, 2022, Ms. Al Mubarak represented IUCN at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York; engaged with UN Climate Change High-Level Champions at COP26 to advocate for Nature-based Solutions; interfaced with the World Economic Forum on planning for UNFCCC’s COP27 and COP28; and stood with world leaders in a pledge to commit to conservation goals for COP15 in Montreal.
  • The acceleration of efforts to pursue, monitor, and adapt integrated approaches to solving the biodiversity and climate crises, including advocating for the adoption of Nature-based Solutions to climate change at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada, in December. 
  • IUCN Council has made great progress on the development of a 20-year Strategic Vision, inclusive of a Financial Strategy and Strategic Plan for the Union, as directed by Union Members during the World Conservation Congress in Marseille (WCC-2020-Dec-147-EN). So far, Council has developed and approved the Terms of Reference for the intersessional working group and the Bureau has received expressions of interest from Union Members to become members of the Council working group and recommended names for appointment by council.  

Looking ahead, Ms. Al Mubarak eagerly anticipates the first-ever IUCN Council meeting to be hosted in Abu Dhabi, in her homeland of the United Arab Emirates, and the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to be hosted in Dubai in November 2023. 

As the first Arab woman to serve as IUCN President, Ms. Al Mubarak especially values the imprint that her role as President has left on countless young women across West Asia, North Africa, and around the world, inspiring them to play an active role in conserving nature and biodiversity.

Razan Al Mubarak delivers the opening address to IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress

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.  

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.

In IUCN 2021 presidential candidates debate, Razan Al Mubarak offers optimistic message for future of Union

Razan Al Mubarak articulated her vision for the Union in the recent IUCN 2021 presidential candidates’ debate which was moderated by the former Prime Minister of France, Laurent Fabius.

The debate was conducted in advance of the electronic vote which will open to all IUCN members no matter their location on September 4, 2021.

In her closing statement, Ms. Al Mubarak offered a message of hope for the future of conservation: 

“IUCN has so much to offer at this critical moment, especially as more and more people recognize that protecting nature is critical to solving the current challenges we face, and that nature-based solutions are gaining more ground.

This is our opportunity to bring back the grand vision of the Union, where nature is elevated as an existential crisis on the global agenda. 

Now is the time for us to step up to this challenge and redesign and reimagine nature conservation. The time for procrastination is over. We must be bold. We must be fast. We must innovate. And armed with optimism and humility, we need to enable the IUCN to be a more active and effective advocate for Nature Conservation globally. I am convinced we can do it collectively. We will succeed, for nature needs us and we need nature.”

Watch the first presidential debate in the IUCN’s YouTube channel.