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Al Mubarak: A Clean Environment is a Human Right; Young Environmentalists Forcing a New Sustainable Future; Hawaii Imports About 90 Percent of its Food; CNN Celebrates First-Ever "Call to Earth" day; Cuellar: We Need to Make an Impact. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 10, 2021 - 11:00 ET
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BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Planet Earth projected here under the Al Wasl Dome at EXPO 2020, Dubai. For years we have lived on
sustainably but now we need to act. Tonight, we are searching for inspiration. This is our "Call to Earth".
Well Hello, and welcome to the Earth Stage here at EXPO 2020 Dubai. I'm Becky Anderson and this is a CNN special celebrating our first ever "Call
to Earth Day".
CNN is committed to reporting on the environmental issues facing our planet, and importantly, the solutions that could save us from catastrophe.
We as individuals can all play a role in making things better.
Well, the audience here with me today is all playing their part and we will hear from them throughout this show. But I want to start today with two
trial bases, Razan Al Mubarak is the President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the first Arab woman to hold that title. And
Erika Cuellar is a Rolex Awards Laureate and Conservation Biologist.
And a reminder for those of you watching from home does get involved; let us know what you are doing by using the #calltoearth. Well, let's kick this
off Razan, let me start with you. What are to your mind the critical issues facing our planet right now? And how important what you would term nature
RAZAN AL MUBARAK, PRESIDENT INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me to be on this incredible show. I'm
super excited to be here.
So we're all here and we're all witnessing really the two existential crises, the crisis of climate change, but at the same time, we are facing
another critical issue, which is the biodiversity crisis. We have encroached as humanity on every -- if all spaces, be it land or be it sea
and we are causing, you know, incredible damage.
We have and we are losing species at an incredible rate. We need to recognize what nature provides to humanity. It's everything. It's the air
that we breathe; it's the food that we eat. It's the climate that we actually depend on so nature provides us with the ability to live to
survive, to thrive.
ANDERSON: Erika, you are a Biologist and Conservationist and your work has been centered on the Bolivian region of grand charcoal. Why?
ERIKA CUELLAR, ASST PROF, SULTHAN QABOOS UNIVERSITY: Well, the -- is an incredible biome is the second largest biome after the Amazon. So it's very
When I started, everybody was just focusing on the problems in tropical rainforest and I just had this biome with this amazing potential and nobody
was taking care of it. So the indigenous community in the -- they fought.
They really tried to get the land, I mean, to regain the land, and they did it. And 3.4 million hectares were declared a protected area. And the most
amazing thing was that it wasn't just wildlife.
It wasn't just animals and plants. It wasn't just nature, it was people. If we want to achieve conservation, long term conservation, we cannot avoid
people we have to include people. People are part of the system.
MUBARAK: Absolutely. And just following up on what Erika said its people. People are at the forefront and should be at the forefront of our thinking
when it comes to conservation. Just last month, the United Nations human rights body voted that clean a clean environment is a human right.
And if we want to do justice to future generations, the best thing that we can give them is a stable planet. How do we give them a stable planet? It
is about empowering the youth.
CUELLAR: For me, doing conservation without the involvement of local people is just gardening and we don't want that we want conservation long term
conservation and people are there.
CUELLAR: And we really need to involve them.
ANDERSON: Fantastic. Well, we've been discussing how conserving, restoring and sustainably managing the world eco systems are critical to preserving
our planet. Lest we forget our planet is a blue planet, over 70 percent of it is covered by vast oceans and our marine habitats, folks need your help
have a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERGER, AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: All research provides hundreds of billions of dollars a year in services and
benefits to humanity these beautiful ecosystems with vibrant colors and fishes floating around everywhere. They're the richest ecosystem that we
have in the seas.
So they're incredibly important in terms of biodiversity. Probably in the next three decades, we're going to see substantial declines of coral reefs
around the world by 2100; they'll largely disappear as a result of climate change. My name is John Berger; I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at
New York University. My team and I are out several times a week on these reefs.
This is a beautiful natural laboratory to try and understand how organisms might respond to future climate change and other regions because it's so
warm here. We don't genetics work, for example, showing that the coral animal itself as well as the algae that associated with it, are genetically
distinct here in the Southern Gulf from those that are in the Indian Ocean.
And so they really have adapted to this unique extreme environment that we have here and offer a lot of hope for science in terms of trying to
understand how organisms might respond to climate change and adapt to it.
These reefs are the most certainly tolerant in the world. But we're losing them at an astounding rate because of these recurrent heat waves that are
coming through. So there is some hope out there. But we're running against time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Just a great example of the challenges that we face. We're here to talk about some of the solutions that we can provide. I'm pleased to, to
have with us tonight, Rasha Saleh who is encouraging her peers here in the UAE to audit their own environmental impact and Spencer Cox, who uses
mapping technology for water conservation in the U.S.
Thank you both for joining us tonight. Rasha let me start with you. You are a Coordinator at Emirates Nature WWF through a founder of a platform known
as Enta Green, UAE and fascinatingly, you have traveled to the Antarctica on a scientific mission. Tell us about the work that you do and what you
found when you did that mission?
RASHA SALEH, FOUNDER, ENTA GREEN: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me here, I believe and I say that each person has their own environmental
journey. Each person is at a certain level, maybe their stage of awareness may be at the stage of action may be at the stage of implementation. And
this is in a way it was my journey before I started then joining Emirates Nature, and also beyond work trying to create content through Enta Green,
to raise awareness about what each person can change.
And I think I've been influenced a lot and inspired by my experiences, just going to Antarctica really changed my mind and really gave me that energy
to tell people that every single person has a change and we can all get together and make change different things in our lifestyle, like steering
away from single use plastics, like trying to learn and know about environmental issues, like joining organizations that are doing an effort
for that is a great thing.
ANDERSON: Spencer, you've been involved all your life in conservation. Just tell me how you involve what's the project you've been working?
SPENCER COX, CLIMATE CONSERVATIONIST: I was working most recently on a grant process to basically make a case to the Environmental Protection
Agency within the United States that money should be allocated to the Mill Creek Watershed in the Cincinnati area.
One of the things that I was able to bring to their attention is the massive amount of streams that have been artificially built. And basically
they just lay down a bunch of concrete and tried to straighten out a stream.
And that's just not how nature works, unfortunately, so by we can do, basically reclamation projects, to refurbish the streams and even if we're
not totally changing the built infrastructure for one reason or another. We can help reintroduce life and help nature kind of reclaim its own territory
and so that's kind of one of the projects that I was working on most recently.
ANDERSON: Do you find that your peers are as enthused as you are? Need some help I mean what's the sense amongst your friends?
SALEH: Yeah, I think it depends. Maybe five years ago, when I started, it was like, what are you doing? What is your weird? And then now I feel like
everyone wants to be that weird. Everyone is joining that movement, and they're trying to change.
And they're seeing that this is a reality we're living. The climate change, we're seeing our biodiversity, you know, affected our actions, how it is
affecting things around us. It's affecting our life. So yeah, I think everyone now is more like we want to join that movement.
ANDERSON: Well, that's a good thing. And I see a lot of nods in this audience as well. And we'll, we'll get to you a little later. We talked
earlier about the importance of involving indigenous communities and in conservation, here's a fact for you.
Modern farming practices are responsible for almost 60 percent of biodiversity loss. Up next, today, we see if going back to how we used to
produce food will help us live more sustainably stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, welcome back to a CNN special here at the stage at EXPO 2020 Dubai. This is our first ever "Call to Earth Day" on CNN a day when we
encourage people around the world particularly youngsters to get involved.
ANDERSON: With smart solutions to help save our planet. And I've got one such youngster here. Student Marria Peduto, a college student focuses on
understanding on what you describe as climate smart agriculture, innovative solutions, tell me what you're up to.
MARRIA PEDUTO, STUDENT, INDIANA UNIVERSITY BLOOMINGTON: Yes. So I actually work on our campus farm at Indiana University Bloomington. And we use
climate smart agricultural techniques. I'm using things like compost, low emissions, tilling, to actually an organic agriculture to actually grow
food for our university that we can then consume in our dining halls.
And I've also worked on created the food security for Thought Project. And we actually work to use a food from the catering services at our university
to create food boxes for students.
ANDERSON: And what inspired you to get involved?
PEDUTO: So food is something that I'm very passionate about. It is a major of mine. And so I'm very, very focused on Food Studies, but then also
recognizing that international graduate students face high levels of food insecurity. It's only exacerbated by climate change. And so trying to be a
part of the solution is something that's really passionate and inspiring.
ANDERSON: For me, Marria, one of the key steps that we can take to help ensure biodiversity, I'm sure you will agree is to have a more varied diet
and here's how one chef is helping his patrons to eat in harmony with nature.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGEL LEON, CHEF, APONIENTE: And BFA My story begins on these shores in Cadiz and Kalian, Jeff from Aponiente and they are restaurant with three
Michelin stars in southern Spain I have an obsession with discovering new ingredients from the sea, looking for plants that can produce biomass
plants that could produce food.
And suddenly, this was Stanza Marina came to Milan. Marria sea grass metals are the most ecologically productive ecosystems on the planet, more than a
rainforest. They said sequester carbon, produce oxygen, and has many species that read. Science saw it as an important plant for the ecosystem.
Ecosystem, but I sign it an undiscovered grain. The only documented use of it was by the Surrey Indians in Mexico in your city of Mexico. It's
interesting, because sea rise doesn't taste like the sea, that's important. My dream is that in 10 years' time, the world will cook and harvest rice in
the sea. In a planet where almost three quarters of it is water. Think how we could irrigate the land with seawater.
Think about the amount of protein that a plant can provide us with. And it only needs light, water and the movement of the sea. I am much more excited
about discovering new foods in the sea than any of my major life stars. I think we will leave something more important, which is the discovery of new
ways of feeding ourselves in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, with me tonight is Marc Aoun whose social enterprise in Lebanon converts bio waste into compost and Sidney Millerd is passionate
about reserving her home state of Hawaii. She also mentors food insecure kids from low income households. Thank you for being with us tonight.
Sidney. Just talk to me about why you have got involved with the projects that you are involved with?
SYDNEY MILLERD, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY PF HAWAII, WEST OAHU: Yeah, so to begin, in Hawaii, we currently import over 90 percent of the food that we
consume. So you know, that's totally unsustainable, where if we were to have a natural disaster or something was to happen to our ports.
And that being shut down, we're not going to have that food. So we do find that balance where we're self-sufficient, but at the same time still having
those opportunities to import food.
So with that, back in ancient Hawaii, with the millions of or about a million of Native Hawaiians who were there back then they were able to
self-sustain themselves with an aqua a system which ran from the mountains to see where they were able to harvest and gather the resources that they
needed back Then and live healthy lives.
MILLERD: And that's obviously changed to what it is today. So looking at that difference from the past to what it is now, we really have to see and
look to our ancestral roots to find ways to become more sustainable and food secure today.
ANDERSON: And that will really resonate more with people living in this region, the GCC in the wider Middle East, this is a region that is
incredibly food insecure. Just tell our viewers about the work that you are involved with?
MARC AOUN, ENVIROMENTAL SCIENTIST/CO-FOUNDER & CEO: Absolutely. So as you mentioned, we import along a large portion of the food we rely on and 1/3
of the food we produce actually ends up as waste in landfills becoming an environmental burden.
At the same time, we can actually recover these nutrients and valorize them into a fertilizer. So this is essentially what compost ability does, we
work with local communities, raise awareness, so they can properly sorted source and put the infrastructure necessary there is low tech and low cost
and locally adapted.
So that we can treat this material and ensure that farmers are encouraged to use it and see the benefits that can offer for them for the community
and the environment.
ANDERSON: How does waste management fit into the wider story of food insecurity?
AOUN: Of course, so almost 60 percent in the case of Lebanon, at least, and in the region of the waste we generate is organic waste, its food waste. So
it's a resource that we can make use of to fuel the future of agriculture, or at least a big portion of it.
Today, agriculture or globally is medicated agriculture, very dependent on imported fertilizers, chemical fertilizers, and herbicides and pesticides
and much less on the health of the soil, the really the ecosystem around growing the plants.
And this is really where compost or food waste and bringing that food waste back into the cycle comes into play because it's essentially how we can
ensure that we are providing a sustainable source of nutrients.
ANDERSON: Sydney, do you feel the momentum for others to get involved in sustain a more sustainable lifestyle?
MILLERD: Oh, yeah, definitely. So for example, in Hawaii, that's the new movement that's coming around my degree that I went into at the University
of Hawaii at west of Oahu was called Sustainable Community Food Systems.
And that's an up and coming degree and more organizations around Hawaii are getting involved. Schools are getting, you know, Farm to School programs,
they're growing food in their own gardens that they are using for their lunches and meals at school. So it's really, you know, different aspects in
our everyday lives are really just getting involved with this more sustainable food resin.
ANDESON: We talked about the importance of getting youngsters involved in land restoration and conservation in a more sustainable lifestyle. And here
are some great examples of what people are doing.
MUBARAK: Very inspirational. And you've touched on a topic, agriculture and food that touch upon the two crises, right. So biodiversity and climate
change. A lot of people assume that if you address the issue of climate change, you're going to address the issue of biodiversity.
That's not the case. But there are common culprits and agriculture is one of them. Because as you stated, half of all habitable land has been
converted to land for agriculture. And so that's encroached on our forests, or wetlands, and so forth.
And similarly, most of this land is used for livestock 70 percent of it, in fact, and that produces around 14 and a half percent of global greenhouse
gas emissions. So if we are creatively, like you both have done, address the issue of agriculture, we are really hitting at a very important drivers
for both climate change and biodiversity loss.
ANDERSON: Erika, this must resonate with you.
CUELLAR: Yes, I am just fascinated to hear that. People are talking about reconnecting. So I think we have to be very honest with ourselves and just
stop for a while and think, how can we really don't waste more time and just try to go back a little bit and understand what we are doing and
understand all these knowledge the people has in terms of food in the grand charcoal.
One thing that really amazed me was that how they manage hunting pressure on wildlife and fishing. So they were managing that through the year and it
was amazing how they did it. So I think we have to learn we have to learn a little bit we have to be more humble and just stop a little bit find
solutions, learning from what it has been done before us.
ANDERSON: Well I hope you're inspired by what you are hearing here and I know folks wherever you are watching in the world you will have.
CUELLAR: We have to learn, we have to be little humble and just stop a little bit, find solutions learning from what it has done before us.
ANDERSON: Well, I hope you're inspired by what you're hearing here. And I know folks wherever you're watching in the world, you will have answers.
You will be answering that call and let us know what you are doing #calltoearth.
Now, did you know that cities produce 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions? So how can we build a more sustainable urban reality? That is
coming up. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Well, many, many thanks to Nikola to Mamadou and to Bassam from the Clarinet in Folklore Group for providing us with some Arabic and
African beat tonight. Absolutely, fantastic. Welcome back.
You are on the stage at the EXPO 2020 here in Dubai. And we are finding out what people here are doing to ensure that we do something about our planet,
which I know you'll all agree, is in crisis, but there are solutions. Let's try and get some of those solutions tonight. I'm joined by some youngsters
here. What are your names?
CHINAR VAID, STUDENT, BRIGHTON COLLEGE DUBAI: Chinar.
CARMEN URE, STUDENT, BRIGHTON COLLEGE DUBAI: Carmen.
ANDERSON: And Carmen and Chinar, what are you doing to save the planet?
VAID: Well we are starting to bring recycling bins to our school in trying to make our school much more ecofriendly, so our school and not just our
school and the whole world.
ANDERSON: That is Brighton college folks in the UAE to be precise. That's amazing. Tell me what else?
URE: We go around the classrooms and leave notes saying to turn off the lights and turn off the boards to save electricity.
ANDERSON: That is absolutely fantastic. Well thank you to our students from Brighton College. Now if we are going to get serious about conservation,
then we need to completely rethink the way that we build our future cities. Here's a thought. How about this? We build them from trash. Have a look at
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR HUANG, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, MINIWIZ: The nature will produce the waits. Isn't that how the city should be everything can be really
transformed re-up cycle into all kinds of beautiful architecture.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arthur Huang is a Taiwanese architect, engineer and co-founder and CEO of Miniwiz, a company turning different kinds of waste
like plastic bottles into materials for buildings and products across the world.
From the streets of Taipei, to the Tibetan Plateau, Huang and his team took their technology for a test drive in 2017 with the Trashpresso, a portable
solar powered recycling machine designed to allow communities to recycle locally in places where plastic waste has become an increasing problem like
China's -- region and Ching Hai province.
HUANG: Our mission shifted to say how can we actually take many of this pathway technology to the people who actually really need it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Miniwiz has developed an AI recycling system to detect different kinds of plastic, which the Trashpresso through heat and
compression can transform into new products. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Miniwiz turn their engineering skills to a different kind of
HUANG: During COVID time is most material cannot be shipped. So we are building medical parts a medical board system, all is of local trash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adapting to a pandemic and also to environmental pressures farms work shows how to create a more sustainable future.
HUANG: We don't need to create new things. We just need to use our ingenuity, innovations, and our good heart and good brain to transform
these existing materials into the next generation of products and buildings to power our economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, let me introduce two people who are laser focused on helping to develop more sustainable cities, greener cities. Haya Aseer is
with the Arab Youth Center and Bilal Shabandri is the Co-Founder and CEO of Arcab. I'm going to get you to explain exactly what that is all about in a
First, to you Haya, you work with the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change. What's the general sentiment towards climate change, the climate
crisis, and the opportunities that some of the sort of solutions based innovative ideas that we've been discussing today might provide for this
HAYA ASEER, ARAB YOUTH COUNCIL FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: Definitely. Well, Becky, just to give you an outline of what the picture with Arab youth is, a few
years ago, we conduct Dr. Survey at the Arab Youth Center that involve thousands of Arab youth.
And we asked them what are their top priorities are. And unfortunately, only 12 percent of these youth reported that environmental matters and
climate changes have no priority to them. And even less, with 11 percent only reported that infrastructure is of their priority.
And just to put things into perspective if 12 or 11 percent of us thought that connectivity and digitalization is important. Expo will cease to
exist. So although the numbers were devastating, but they incentivized us to create a change, and they highlighted the urgency that how much we have
to include our future generation in the Arab world and --.
ANDERSON: Why do you think those numbers were so small or so low?
ASEER: Well, to be honest, generation and generation, generations before, the current one did not have this insight or this awareness to the --.
If we're looking at the global ranking of cities in regards to the percentage of green areas and parks, you'd go through 30 to 40 cities until
you find one Arab city on the list, so it was not on our agenda 20 years ago, but we're definitely creating qualitatively when the Arab --.
ANDERSON: Bilal, what are you up to tell us?
BILAL SHABANDRI, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, ARCAB: So, I'm under Co-Founder of Arcab. And one of the goals for creating Arcab for me personally was to
have 1 million fewer cars in the road, and more green spaces than parking lots.
So how I got into Arcab was with a personal problem that I faced with daily commutes. On one hand, there were tons of cars on the roads, millions of
cars, tons of emissions, and I wanted a way to seamlessly get to work every single day.
But the public transportation of very crowded time consuming congested, especially during peak hours and private transportation was very expensive
for daily use.
So initially, Arcab started out as an idea to use micro transit buses to get from point A to point B, to create a solution that's 30 minutes faster
than a traditional bus and 78 percent cheaper than a private transportation or a taxi.
So that's when Arcab really began as a bus pooling application, to encourage people to use shared modes of transportation to get from point A
to point B very seamlessly very quickly.
ANDERSON: Mubarak -- to you and to all of you, thank you for being involved tonight. All our themes today can be found right here at EXPO 2020 Dubai,
the sustainability pavilion with nearly 5000 solar panels wants to show the world how we can truly live sustainably and set new standards for
And walking across this entire space, you will see the exhibitions that showcase what very well could be our future world. Stay with us, we are
taking a very short break.
ANDERSON: Well, all this hour we've been hearing from trailblazers, forging a new path on the way to a more sustainable future. Building new green
spaces encouraging water conservation, reducing polluting traffic and converting bio waste into compost change needs to happen at every level of
And we have heard today from people playing a role doing their part to make things better. There is no doubt environmental issues have moved from niche
interests to the global stage. The question is how do we ensure this momentum for change? Razan, do you feel hopeful at this point?
MUBARAK: Absolutely Becky, certainly feel hopeful and so many signs that make me feel hopeful. We have incredible target the 30 by 30, protecting 30
percent of nature by 2030. We know that when we invest in conservation, we reap the results.
Protected areas marine protected areas around the world when you protect them and our nature is resilient, you have 600 percent more abundance of
MUBARAK: So nature works, nature conservation works. We have a wonderful story. We have youth that are fully engaged. And yes, I'm very hopeful and
ANDERSON: Erika, there is a lot of work to do. But do you share that optimism?
CUELLAR: Yes, of course, of course I have to, I have to be optimistic, because, you know, we see people everywhere and also people who want to do
things and people who are working. So the same ideas are around the world and we need to make an impact.
So it's fine to repeat ideas, fine to connect, we have to use the technology to just share ideas. So we need to make an impact. And I think,
you know, involving people it is the impact we need to achieve now. So of course, I am optimistic. Of course I have a lot to do is still bad. But I
have a hope. Of course I have a hope.
ANDERSON: Yes, thank you for your inputs. And thank you both. That wraps. Our CNN special "Call to Earth" change will be tough. It will take a
rethink of how we currently live, how we build our cities, and structure, our society opportunities to change the way we live are all around us.
As always, we want to hear from you, our audience about what you are doing to create a sustainable future. This is your moment. This is your "Call to
Earth". Thank you.