UAE ranks first globally in marine protected areas

The UAE has ranked first in the marine protected areas in a global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) in 2018. 

The UAE’s commitment to expand the natural reserves contributed to its first position in the EPI jointly produced by Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, said Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, in his keynote speech at the First Regional Biodiversity Forum that kicked off in Abu Dhabi.

“The number of officially declared natural reserves in the country has increased from 19 in 2010 to 43 in 2017,” The number of protected wetlands has gone up from two in 2010 to seven in 2017. These were proclaimed as protected areas under the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation of wetlands and their resources, Al Zeyoudi said.

A total of 12.21 per cent of marine and coastal areas as well as over 17 per cent of terrestrial areas of the UAE are protected areas, he told Gulf News. “As of today 14.93 per cent of the UAE is classed as protected areas,” the minister said.

More than 100 biodiversity experts and specialists from the region and around the world are attending the three-day forum organised by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — Regional Office for West Asia (ROWA). The forum will discuss the progress towards the implementation of the National Strategies of NBSAPs (National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plans) related to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The delegates will present initiatives on biodiversity conservation in the UAE and the Arab region, and exchange expertise and ensure cooperation in the biodiversity field.