RIYADH — Ninety-five percent of NEOM land and ocean will be put aside as a nature reserve, according to a NEOM board member.

Alexandra Cousteau, who is known as an expert in environmental issues and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, made her remarks during a panel discussion at the sixth edition of Future Investment Initiative (FII6) in Riyadh on Wednesday.

“They’re putting 95 percent of NEOM as a nature reserve — both in land and ocean — and that’s an extraordinary piece of leadership and example for the rest of the world,” she said.

Cousteau added: “I was fortunate enough to watch during the past five years being on the board of NEOM this principle of putting nature first and putting the ocean first.”

She pointed out, “We often look at the environment as something we need to exploit for profit and we say you know the cost to the environment is just an outcome for building our economy.

“I think that we can’t accept that destroying the environment is a requirement for having a successful economy; it’s quite the opposite.”

She stressed that the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a healthy environment and by rebuilding the environment “we are creating more opportunities for economic growth”.

NEOM has a mix of nature within the developing area that includes the deep blue ocean and pristine beaches as well as desert and mountains. It has unique geography and topography.

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