At the third annual Paris Peace Forum, Razan Al Mubarak challenged government and business leaders worldwide to expand the meaning of “environmental protection” beyond fighting climate change by funding conservation and biodiversity initiatives to the same extent.
“Governments around the world are making big gestures by injecting money into the economy,” said Ms. Al Mubarak in reference to post-pandemic recovery strategies. “What I and many others are advocating for is that these stimulus programs include a nature recovery plan, so that countries are not only reducing emissions, but also giving nature and biodiversity the resources they need to survive and thrive.”
Ms. Al Mubarak said a similar approach was needed in the corporate world.
“In terms of business, “the ‘E’ in ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) is largely defined by and limited to a climate change narrative, and not an overall nature narrative that includes the protection of habitat and biodiversity and the restoration of ecosystems,” she further stated. “What many of us are pushing for is an expansion of the meaning of the “Environment”in the ESG framework.”
This year’s Paris Peace Forum brought together 12,000 participants in 151 countries including 60 heads of state, government and international organizations, civil society and the private sector to focus on a global post-pandemic response to COVID-19.
Ms. Al Mubarak spoke during “Biodiversity at the Center: Conserving Nature and Avoiding Pandemics,” a preparatory event for next year’s Convention on Biological Diversity at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Kunming, China. The discussion explored strategies for post-2020 global biodiversity governance to be presented and adopted at COP15. Ms. Al Mubarak was joined by: Bérangère Abba, France’s Secretary of State to the Minister of Ecological Transition, in charge of Biodiversity; Isabella Pratsi, International Conservation Director, WWF Italy; Zhao Yingmin, China’s Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment; and Anne Le More, Co-President of Chef’s 4 the Planet.
Razan Al Mubarak has written the foreword for the 2020 edition of the Illustrated Checklist of the Mammals of the World, the most complete, stand-alone summary of the current taxonomy and distribution of every currently recognized species of mammal.
With editors from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and Global Wildlife Conservation, this essential resource for conservationists adds over 1,000 species discovered by science since the last edition published 15 years ago
The new edition organizes and classifies mammals into 167 families totalling over 6,550 species. In addition to the updated scientific name of each species, each account includes common names in English, French, German and Spanish, and the IUCN Red List Conservation Category. Each species is accompanied by a scientific illustration in full color, adapted from the earlier volumes, along with a revised distribution map.
In the foreword, Ms. Al Mubarak writes:
“Biodiversity is a crucial indicator of the health of the planet – the only living planet known in the universe. Mammals, all these incredible species portrayed in this checklist, are major elements of Earth’s biodiversity, and dominant players in the maintenance of the landscapes we know and love—without them, these ecosystems change, they are simplified, they are destroyed, and too often with severe, damaging consequences for us.”
As reported by Lonely Planet, World Atlas and Gulf News, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns have severely disrupted species conservation activities worldwide according to a survey of more than 300 conservationists in 85 countries. The survey was conducted by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, (MBZ Conservation Fund) where Razan Al Mubarak serves as founding managing director.
The survey found the pandemic had affected the ability of 83 percent of conservationists to conduct critical fieldwork, while 70 percent said planned conservation activities had been canceled or postponed.
“With an estimated 10,000 species being lost to extinction per year, a rate that is 1,000 times faster than at any other time in history, conservation work in the field is the critical first line of defense against extinction,” said Ms. Al Mubarak, founding managing director of the MBZ Conservation Fund. “By confirming that efforts to prevent biodiversity loss have been significantly harmed during the pandemic, the survey makes clear that the conservation community must come together to urge for a ‘nature recovery plan’ where conservation initiatives are given the necessary financial stimulus to not just recover but thrive in the long term.”
The survey also found that
- Forty percent of conservationists found the pandemic negatively affected their job or career, with 22 percent reporting their organizations planned to eliminate jobs.
- Sixty-eight percent of respondents said their organization had been negatively impacted, with 57 percent reporting their organization is experiencing financial difficulties.
- Many conservationists highlighted the loss of revenue for their organizations due to closures of parks, zoos, and aquariums, the decline in eco-tourism, and the reduction in student enrollment for courses and fieldwork experiences.
- Many respondents were concerned that the pandemic would increase threats to the species and habitats, including increased poaching due to reduced presence of law enforcement and tourists and greater reliance on hunting by local communities due to the economic impact on livelihoods.
Download a copy of the survey report by the MBZ Conservation Fund.