MBZ Fund

03 July 2018

Lab Chat

The Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) Species Conservation Fund is a charitable organisation devoted to preserving and restoring endangered species at home and abroad. Since its inception in 2008, the Fund has been instrumental in re-establishing all manner of endangered species in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

It is organisations like the MBZ Fund which have helped the UAE to climb the leaderboard in the Environmental Protection Index (EPI). At present, the UAE holds the top spot for Marine Protected Areas worldwide, sharing its 100.00 perfect rating with several other countries around the world – but none in the Middle East.

An environmental visionary

The late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is widely regarded as the founding father of the UAE, as well as the country’s first President. On top of those impressive credentials, the Shaikh was also one of the most progressive environmentalists of his time, concentrating on animal conservation at a time when the subject was largely disregarded.

In recognition of those efforts, two environmental awards (the Zayed International Prize for the Environment and the Zayed Future Energy Prize) have both been set up in his name. In 2008, his son (and current Crown Prince of the UAE) Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed set up the MBZ Species Conservation Fund to carry on the work done by his father and continue efforts to conserve natural flora and fauna.

The Fund’s establishment is particularly significant given that most of the Shaikh’s peers at the time were focused on the effects of climate change. However, the Shaikh recognised that 67% of our wildlife could become extinct by 2020 and set up the MBZ Fund as a result. It has been helping to keep critically endangered animal species alive ever since.

Philanthropic projects at home and abroad

To date, the MBZ Fund has provided grants totalling up to Dh62 million ($17 million USD) to over 1,800 projects in more than 170 nations all over the world. The funding has been used to safeguard the longevity of roughly 1,200 endangered types of animals, including amphibians, birds, fish, fungi, mammals, plants, reptiles and other organisms.

Its effects have perhaps most keenly been felt in the smaller projects which it has subsidised. By donating sums of between $1,000 and $25,000 to grassroots projects run by individuals and communities, the fund is having a direct impact on studies, incentives and conservation efforts in the field. This means that it has been instrumental in bringing species back from the brink in even the most isolated corners of the world.

Closer to home, the MBZ Fund has helped to resuscitate an ailing Arabian oryx population in recent times. Thanks to its collaboration with the Environmental Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), the Arabian oryx has returned to a stable population and the UAE is currently home to 58% of its total numbers. Similarly, Abu Dhabi has overseen the successful breeding of more than 50,000 Houbara bustards in the UAE, Kazakhstan and Morocco and released them back into the wild.

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