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معالي الدكتور عبدالله بلحيف ومعالي اللورد زاك جولد سميث وزير المحيط الهادئ والبيئة البريطاني.jpg

UAE Joins Global Ocean Alliance to Achieve 30by30 Conservation Target

The UAE is the latest country to join the UK-initiated Global Ocean Alliance, a group of 32 countries working to protect the ocean and improve the livelihoods of coastal communities. As its core goal, the Alliance calls for safeguarding at least 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030 through marine protected areas. The UAE is the first Middle Eastern country to endorse the target.

His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The ocean offers invaluable services to mankind, from food production to tourism to regulating global temperatures and weather, and hundreds of millions of jobs depend on ocean’s health. We simply cannot afford to lose these services, and therefore collective action is a must if we are to stop the deterioration of ocean’s health as a result of climate change, pollution, and overfishing.”

He added: “We will work together with other members of the Alliance to achieve the 30by30 target and preserve a healthy ocean for future generations.”

The Rt Hon Lord Zac Goldsmith, the UK’s Minister for Pacific and the Environment, welcomed the UAE to the Alliance, and commended its steadfast commitment to protecting the ocean. He said:

“I am excited to welcome the UAE to the Global Ocean Alliance, making a total of 32 countries who have now committed to protecting the ocean and coastal communities.

 “I commend the UAE for identifying strategies to help tackle overfishing, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss. Only by acting together do we stand a chance of protecting our ocean – and with it, the foundation for a healthy future for us all.”

Joining the Global Ocean Alliance aligns with the UAE’s dedication to marine conservation, which has resulted in its ranking in the Ocean Health Index 2019 as having the healthiest waters on the Asian continent. Using an integrated approach, the country has focused on working with traditional coastal communities to design ambitious regulations that increase fish stocks. Accordingly, it has imposed permanent and seasonal fishing and trade bans on important local species, limited the number of fishing boats in operation, prohibited certain types of fishing equipment and methods, and specified the minimum lengths of fish allowed to be caught. In 2021, Abu Dhabi will also introduce the first marine plastic litter regulations in the GCC region, addressing the threat to human health and marine life.

The UAE has maintained its global leadership in the Marine Protected Areas category of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) with 16 marine protected areas that account for 12 percent of its marine territory, compared to the international average of 7.5 percent. In addition, the country runs innovative projects to restore marine habitats, such as the experimental cultivation of 24 heat- and climate-resilient coral species, building the world’s largest coral reef garden that will be home to 1.5 million corals, and the ongoing planting of thousands of mangroves.

The key moment for the 30by30 target will come in February 2021, when governments convene to agree on new global conservation targets under the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD). The UAE will work closely with the Alliance – as well as the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, another group of governments aiming for robust conservation targets – to enshrine the target. The current global target of 10 percent conservation expires this year.

As part of its Alliance membership, the UAE will also leverage its key global convening role to support the 30by30 target and ocean conservation more broadly. The country hosted the World Ocean Summit in 2019, and in September 2020 – in partnership with Fiji, Kenya, Norway, Palau, Portugal, and Sweden – it organized the United Nations General Assembly roundtable on the ocean agenda for 15 ministers, 15 agency executives, and five youth representatives. In 2021, the inaugural edition of Oceanology International Middle East will take place in Abu Dhabi with the aim of strengthening collective action around the protection of oceans and their valuable resources.


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