President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim speaking at the opening of the African Ministerial Conference 2015: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa, on November 3, 2015, in Dakar, Senegal.
are doing better than others. One of the reasons for this is the availability of funds. Other reasons include the need for expanded infrastructure in Africa as well clear government vision. If governments matched funding for donors, for example, and had clear research and development policies, scientific research would be more sustainable. How do you emphasize the importance of biodiversity to the international community? Biodiversity underpins life on earth. Tropical regions, like Mauritius, are known to be especially diverse and have provided a wealth of information and resources to the medical, nutritional, and cosmetic sectors. Biodiversity hotspots, which constitute just 2.3% of the Earthâ€™s land surface, account for an estimated 35% of ecosystem services. Threatening this biodiversity is undermining our own existence.
How has climate change effected Mauritius and what is being done to diminish its effects? Mauritius, just like any other island state, will be impacted by climate change. We are already being impacted by climate change. We have witnessed sudden torrential rains, more dangerous cyclones with winds exceeding 200 kilometers per hour, and increased temperatures during the summer. In my opinion, these are symptoms of a warming climate. The question is, how do we adapt? We need to access the appropriate technologies, increase awareness about climate change, and develop a policy of preparedness. It is an expensive process and I hope that my country, like other island states, will benefit from the appropriate support of other nations in the development and implementation of our adaptation strategy. What obstacles have you faced as a woman in a male-dominated field, and what advice
Photo: ÂŠ WIPO 2015. Photo: Cheikh Saya Diop
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would you give young girls and women pursuing science careers? There are indeed many obstacles to being a woman in science. However, when one develops a culture of quality and excellence, there is no limit to what a woman can do. Quality and excellence transcend gender. Also, never give up in the face of adversity, learn to always dare and take risks. What are your hopes for the future of Mauritius? My wish for my country is that it continues to operate as a well-governed country where peace and social justice prevail. It is important to diversify the economy so that more and more opportunities are created for the young people. One of the ways to help make it happen is to embrace science, technology and innovation. l This interview, conducted by Chelsea Skojec, is republished with permission from Earth Island Journal http://www.earthisland.org