Conservation needs more women, says Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak the newly elected IUCN president
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak became today the first woman from the Arab world to head IUCN. She has served as the managing director of several conservation agencies, such as the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and Emirates Nature.
Razan is the second woman to lead the organization in its 72-year history and the first female president from Asia. She is also the first IUCN president from the Arab world since 1978.
Al Mubarak has often tried to illuminate the importance of diversity in her field of work, specifically talking about the importance of more women getting involved in conservation work.
Al Mubarak said, “The only way to solve a multidimensional problem like biodiversity loss is to ensure that all stakeholders have a seat at the table – women, young people, and people from all geographies. For example, indigenous peoples make up five percent of the world’s population, and they are protecting over 80 percent of Earth’s biodiversity. Their experience with resilience and how to live in balance with nature provide the world with invaluable insights on how to conserve biodiversity while adapting to climate change.”
She recently did an analysis that showed that women requested funding three times less than men did. She also found that only 30% of the members of the IUCN Species Survival Commission are women, highlighting the importance of women breaking into the field of conservation.
Al Mubarak said, “It is critical that women have an equal voice in decision-making when it comes to the sustainable use of land, water, and other natural resources. Women are not just lacking an equal seat at the table at a grassroots level. Like many fields dominated by men such as science, engineering, and government, women are also underrepresented in the conservation world.”
She has seen grants given to conservation projects, and she has been the first woman with her background to have helped lead efforts to protect wild reefs, sea turtles, forests, and more.
Razan Al Mubarak’s diverse experience leading a large government agency, an international philanthropic organization, and a conservation NGO focused on citizen engagement provides her with a unique perspective from which to lead the IUCN at this critical moment. • As the head of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the Gulf region’s largest environmental regulator, Razan convinced the government to adopt targets to double the state’s protected areas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2030. She also worked globally to reintroduce endangered species, such as the Scimitar-horned oryx, into the wild. • Razan is the founding director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, which under her leadership has supported more than 2,000 species conservation projects in over 160 countries. • As a managing director at Emirates Nature, an NGO affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund, Razan has helped lead initiatives to protect the country’s wilderness, coral, and nesting and migrating sea turtles. • As a member of Masdar’s board of directors, Razan helped the company become one of the Middle East’s largest developers of renewable energy. Since 2006, it has invested US$13.5 billion in mainly solar and wind projects in over 25 countries.
Experience in fields of concern to IUCN
With an academic background in international relations and environmental studies, Razan will bring extensive technical and executive expertise to the IUCN. With more than two decades of conservation experience in a region rife with competing interests, Razan is well-prepared to lead the IUCN into a new era focused on solutions that protect nature while ensuring sustainable development. Her global accomplishments at Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) include overseeing one of the world’s most ambitious mammalian species reintroduction programs: the breeding of captive Scimitar-horned oryx in Abu Dhabi and reintroducing it back into the wild in Chad, thus seeing a species that is listed as Extinct in the Wild increase its numbers in its natural habitat. Under her leadership, the EAD also established global partnerships like the Eye on Earth environmental data initiative, convened four meetings of IUCN Species Survival Commission since 2008, and hosts one of the Convention on Migratory Species’ two offices.