Europe is committed to protecting threatened lands, the species that live there, and the people that depend on the natural resources the land provides. Efforts large and small are helping to curb greenhouse gas emissions and conserve the world's most precious places.
Today, 20,000 communal bikes dot the streets of Paris. Venturing across town is simple. Pick up your two-wheeler at one end, pedal away, and drop it off at the other — each of these individual choices add up to a significant local impact. Elsewhere, the French Development Agency and Conservation International are two of six members of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, making a global impact by funding work in the biodiversity hotspots, the most threatened and irreplaceable regions on earth. Germany's state-owned development bank, KfW, also recently partnered with CI to channel money into creating protected areas and managing Earth's natural resources.
Europe understands well that when natural resources are rich, so too are a region's people. The Middle East also sees this connection and understands how imperative natural resources like fresh water and abundant oil truly are. For a nation's economy to thrive, its environment must prosper.
Still, Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East face environmental challenges of their own. The region holds four biodiversity hotspots — each one an irreplaceable jewel. In the mountains of the Caucasus and Irano-Anatolian regions, instability in some areas threatens the region's stunning wildlife. The arid Horn of Africa, home to a unique desert diversity which extends into parts of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman, holds less than 5 percent of its original natural area. The Mediterranean Basin, Europe's tourist haven, is threatened by rampant coastal development.
But the cooperation of innovative thinkers across the Middle East, Eurasia, and Europe, creates teams of indispensable partners in our efforts to protect our planet, both regionally and globally.