Monday, January 22, 2018
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment Holds Gulf Wildlife Day Celebrations Themed 'Towards a Sustainable Natural Life'
His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi: 'Our government works relentlessly to preserve our country's rich biodiversity'

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment celebrated the third Gulf Wildlife Day under the theme 'Towards a Sustainable Natural Life' with the aim of enhancing cooperation in the field of wildlife conservation among countries of the GCC region. 

Every year on December 30, environmental authorities across the region observe the holiday through organizing a variety of activities to raise awareness of wildlife conservation. 

Speaking on the occasion, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: "Through the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and other relevant authorities, the UAE plays a key role in wildlife conservation. Our country comprises a range of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Our government works relentlessly to preserve its rich biodiversity through adopting legislation and initiatives designed to achieve the goals of the National Biodiversity Strategy by 2021."

He added: "In response to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we launched our Wildlife Sustainability Program. Within its framework, we are working on developing and implementing an integrated package of policies, procedures and research activities concerning the conservation of native species, as well as regulations of trade in flora and fauna in line with international environmental conventions."

Expanding on the specifics of the program, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said: "Among the goals of the program are identifying invasive species and implementing mechanisms to control their spread as well as prevent their further imports. To date, we have initiated several significant steps, such as the National Red List of Threatened Species Project and the National Invasive Species Project."

He added: "The Ministry is coordinating with relevant local authorities to increase the number of natural protected areas in the UAE with the aim of achieving sustainability of threatened species and conserving important natural habitats. Protected areas contribute to maintaining environmental balance, safeguarding genetic resources, as well as restoring degraded ecosystems and rehabilitating species at risk of extinction."

The UAE already has several species rehabilitation initiatives in place, most notably breeding programs for the houbara bustard, Arabian oryx, Arabian leopard and various birds of prey, such as the saker and peregrine falcons.

Gulf Wildlife Day represents an annual opportunity to raise awareness about common environmental threats, such as climate change, loss of natural habitat as a result of urban expansion, overgrazing, overhunting and overfishing, and illegal wildlife trafficking. It also underscores the significance of preserving natural ecosystems to retain biodiversity.

Equally importantly, for human beings, ecosystems provide essential resources that play a critical role in reducing poverty and achieving economic development, such as food, water and medicinal substances. They also fulfill a multitude of functions necessary for human well-being, such as air purification and mitigation of adverse effects of climate change.

In their drive to tackle the most pressing environmental issues, countries of the GCC region have taken many concrete actions, most notably organizing the Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife and Natural Habitats and launching the Gulf Environmental Strategy, in which the UAE plays a leading role.

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