‘We are at a moment of no return’ – Half-Earth

Image of a large building in Dubai.

Hind Al Soulia – Riyadh – Dubai — Decision-makers and people around the globe must collaborate and act now if we are to protect the richness and wonder of the natural world that we share with more than eight million other species. This was the key message from Expo 2020 Dubai’s Climate and Biodiversity Week, which concluded on Wednesday.

Reem Al Hashimy, director general of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau and UAE minister of state for international cooperation, said: “One million of more than eight million species that call this planet home are at risk of extinction, threatening the health of the ecosystems upon which humankind and the rest of life on Earth depends. We are at a moment of no return. If we do not act now, we cannot come back.

“Expo 2020 is a platform for collaborative change and a key part of the UAE’s commitment for our shared future. Through this platform, let us come together as decision-makers and citizens of a future healthier Earth.”

The two-day event was hosted by Expo 2020 and delivered in collaboration with DP World, Expo’s Premier Global Trade Partner. It explored wide-ranging solutions — across the fields of science, technology, education and conservation — to better manage climate change and protect biodiversity.

More than 40 international experts, change-makers and industry leaders came together, alongside numerous members of the Expo family, including participating nations and Official Partners, and the general public.

Their collective message of collaborative action is crucial to achieving the 2030 Global Goals, and will continue to resonate far and wide when the UAE hosts Expo 2020 Dubai in 2021, bringing together more than 190 nations to work towards a better, more sustainable future.

“There have been many victories, but they’re victories in a losing war. I’ve worried about that a lot. It’s clear to me as it is to many others who have had experience in conservation programs that we need to take a new approach to saving biodiversity on the Earth as a whole. An effort that I call Half-Earth.” – E.O. Wilson

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, said: “Some of the finest minds from across the world have come together to collectively find solutions to difficult problems. We are proud to have partnered with Expo 2020 to make this week a success, and we reaffirm our commitment to keep working towards creating a better future for everyone.”

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, said: “With more than 190 countries participating in Expo 2020 Dubai, plus visitors from around the globe, and partners such as DP World, we will be able to seek solutions to some of the problems we have caused.

“We need to address and slow down climate change, and restore wildlife and whole ecosystems before it’s too late. It’s a challenge that we cannot and must not ignore. Expo 2020 offers an opportunity we simply must not miss: if we come together and take active steps now, we can address these challenges.”

The second of 10 pre-Expo thematic weeks, Climate and Biodiversity Week discussed initiatives and best practices being implemented to ensure Expo 2020 is one of the most sustainable World Expos in history, and gave audiences a sneak peek inside the Sustainability Pavilion, designed to empower visitors to understand their impact on the environment and become agents of change.

It also explored how technology is key to accelerating the growth of smart cities, brainstormed solutions for mitigating desertification and showcased youth-driven initiatives that attempt to positively impact climate change.

The event concluded with a World Majlis event, entitled Nature’s Giant Game of Jenga, hosted by Expo 2020 and the Eden Project, during which participants – including Razan Al Mubarak, managing director of the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund; Sir Tim Smit KBE, executive vice-chair and co-founder of the Eden Project; and Paula J Ehrlich, president and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation — discussed solutions for a sustainable future from regenerative economies to harnessing the power of science and technology, and creating successful ecotourism destinations.

Climate and Biodiversity Week coincided with the announcement of Expo 2020’s involvement in a number of other major initiatives to safeguard our planet, including a link-up with DP World and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to spur worldwide animal and habitat conservation, and participation in Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition, a climate action and five-year forestation plan. Earlier this month, Expo and DP World became a Global Alliance Founding Partner of Prince William’s Earthshot Prize.

Expo 2020 Dubai will also hold a Climate and Biodiversity Week during event time as one of 10 themed weeks that will explore collaborative solutions to key global challenges. The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, Expo 2020 Dubai will run from Oct. 1, 2021 until March 31, 2022, with its expansive thematic programme offering something for everyone, while addressing some of the greatest challenges facing the planet and its people. — SG

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