UAE’s Razan Al Mubarak Becomes The First Arab Woman to Lead a Global Environmental Agency

Razan Al Mubarak photographed by Rohit Sabu

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has elected its first Arab woman to the post of president since 1978. Razan Al Mubarak, currently the managing director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Fund) was elected for the position with a majority vote after a campaign that lasted two years.  This also makes her only the second woman to lead the IUCN in its 72-year history.

Following her landmark appointment, Al Mubarak said, “I am truly honored to have been elected as the 15th President of the IUCN, especially in this critical moment when we need to elevate nature conservation to the forefront of the global sustainability agenda. I am grateful to the UAE leadership and its institutions for their support, trust, confidence, and their belief not only in me but in the importance of elevating the issue of nature conservation globally. I am truly honored to pay homage to a conservation journey commenced by our forefathers and foremothers, led by our Founder, the late Sheikh Zayed and institutionalized by so many organizations in the UAE which have continued to nurture and embrace this rich legacy of nature and its conservation.”

She is known to have shaped the MBZ fund into one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations, aiding more than 2000 projects around the world. Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Vice-Chairman of EAD, and Deputy Chairman of the MBZ Fund said, “Thanks to her passionate, innovative, and decisive leadership, the MBZ Fund has become a global model, showing the world that small but focused interventions on the ground can make a big difference in saving species. We know that she will bring this same sense of commitment, creativity, and collaboration to IUCN as it sets the global agenda for this crucial decade for conservation.”

Al Mubarak began her career in 2001 with the establishment of the Emirates Nature WWF, in association with the World Wildlife Fund, and has led many efforts for coral conservation in the UAE. She went on to become the youngest person to head an Abu Dhabi government entity with her role as the Secretary-General of EAD in 2010. She was also featured on the list of Top 100 Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum in 2018.