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– World conservation leaders gather at the Hima Protected Areas Forum in Saudi Arabia and set out a bold agenda for a sustainable future

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The inaugural Hima Protected Areas Forum concluded in Riyadh on April 24, marking a historic moment in the field of conservation and sustainable development. Organized by the National Center for Wildlife (NCW) under the patronage of H.E. Eng. Abdulrahman AlFadley, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the forum brought together various stakeholders from April 21 to 24 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The name “Hima” has an important meaning in Arabic, as it refers to a traditional system of land conservation and management practiced in many parts of the Arab world for centuries. It represents a holistic approach to sustainable land use, involving the protection of natural resources and ecosystems through community management.

Throughout the event, esteemed keynote speakers from international entities contributed valuable ideas about the critical importance of protecting and conserving the biodiversity of our planet. Dr. Sami Dimasi, representative of the Western Asia Regional Office of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), emphasized the imperative of transforming protected areas for a sustainable future. Additionally, Mr. Neville Ash, Director of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC), highlighted Saudi Arabia’s ambitious efforts in conserving marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Dr. Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), stressed the importance of collaboration to achieve environmental protection objectives.

Several important memorandums of understanding and agreements were signed during the forum, reinforcing the commitment to conservation and sustainable development. Notably, one of the memoranda was signed with the University of Oxford, cementing research collaboration and academic partnerships to advance biodiversity conservation efforts. In addition, an agreement was signed with the IUCN, reaffirming the commitment to undertake joint initiatives to improve biodiversity conservation, promote sustainable resource management and strengthen environmental protection.

In line with the Kingdom’s ambitious 30*30 goals, aimed at preserving 30% of the Kingdom’s land and marine areas by 2030, the forum highlighted Saudi Arabia’s dedication to global environmental conservation . The results of the forum include a series of recommendations, which emphasize community participation in natural heritage protection practices, diversification of funding sources for reserves, harmonization of national legislation with international best practices , the acceleration of the declaration of marine and terrestrial protected areas and investment in ecotourism activities.

In addition to debates and agreements, the forum featured an exhibition showcasing innovative technologies, conservation projects and sustainable practices. Side events, such as workshops and networking sessions, provided participants with valuable opportunities to network with experts, share good practices and forge new alliances.

Reflecting on the success of the forum, Dr Mohammed Ali Qurban, CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, said: “The inaugural Hima Protected Areas Forum has set a precedent for inclusive and collaborative conservation efforts in the region. By bringing together to various stakeholders and foster dialogue, we have taken important steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of our natural heritage.

The inaugural Hima Protected Areas Forum concluded with a renewed commitment to collaboration, innovation and action to safeguard our natural heritage for future generations. As delegates leave with a shared sense of purpose and determination, the momentum generated by this historic meeting will continue to drive positive change in the conservation landscape.

For more information and access to forum resources, visit https://hima.ncw.gov.sa/.

About NCW:

The National Center for Wildlife is a leading institution dedicated to wildlife conservation, research and education in Saudi Arabia. Created to protect and preserve the Kingdom’s rich biodiversity, the NCW works tirelessly to promote environmental sustainability and raise awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.

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