Dr. Thabit Zahran Al Abdessalaam speaking at the S.O.S. event. © Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD)
Abu Dhabi, 27 February 2012 - A programme to improve livelihoods and create economic opportunity in exchange for the conservation of dugongs and their seagrass habitat was officially launched in Abu Dhabi today.
The Dugong, Seagrass and Coastal Communities Initiative aims to attract funding partners whose investment in rural coastal communities and local partnerships will return financial and environmental benefits to communities in developing nations. The initiative will provide incentives for conservation activities and environmental safeguarding across the dugong’s range using innovative financial, educational and knowledge transfer tools.
The initiative was launched at the S.O.S: Save Our Sirenians – Dugongs and West African Manatees event in Abu Dhabi, which opened with an address from Dr. Thabit Z. Al Abdessalaam, Executive Director of the Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity Sector, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi followed by an introduction to the initiative from Dr. Donna Kwan, Programme Officer for the UNEP/CMS Dugong MoU.
Dr. Nicolas J. Pilcher, Technical Advisor for the UNEP/CMS Dugong MoU Secretariat, went on to explain that this approach addresses the joint challenges of 21st century environmental conservation and sustainable development, while maximising the impact of investors’ funding by combining investment with conservation and development tools. The initiative’s flagship species is the dugong, but its broader contribution will be to show how pioneering partnerships among investors, local communities, conservationists and scientists can combine conservation efforts, sustainable development and financial investment to the benefit of all.
Prof. Helene Marsh, Technical Advisor for the UNEP/CMS Dugong MoU Secretariat and internationally recognised expert on sirenians, gave presentations entitled ‘The West African Manatee in Crisis’ and ‘Dugongs at the Edge’. The presentations highlighted the need for coordinated effort in preserving the existence of both of these species, remembering that the dugong’s closest modern relative, the Steller’s sea cow, was hunted to extinction in the 18th century.
The event was organized by the CMS Office - Abu Dhabi.
Last updated on 05 February 2015