The whole push towards sustainability is making each move forward count. AI can deliver some of those results. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The urgency to address climate change has never been more pressing. As the world gathers in the UAE for COP28, the stakes couldn't be higher. This meeting marks the halfway point towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the 17 interlinked objectives designed to create a prosperous world for all.

According to the Sustainable Development Report 2023, the SDGs are significantly off track globally, and none of the goals – including Goal 13: ‘Take action on climate change and its impact’ - are on course to be met by the 2030 deadline.

The implications are far-reaching. Temperatures in the Middle East are on average rising faster than across the rest of the world, and cities could become largely uninhabitable by 2100 (WEF). And while MENA contributes the least to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (just 5 per cent in MENA compared to China at 23 per cent and the US at 19 per cent), it is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

We need to act now, and we need to do it together. COP28 must be a turning point, a moment where we collectively embrace the urgency of the situation and take decisive action. While nobody can go it alone, we believe that with the right tools, the actions we are taking can be significantly enhanced.

We have shared a five-point whitepaper that offers five ways to utilize AI to accelerate sustainability. These include investing in AI to accelerate sustainability solutions; developing digital and data infrastructure for the inclusive use of AI for sustainability; minimizing resource use in AI operations; advancing AI policy principles and governance for sustainability; and building workforce capacity to use AI for sustainability.

The truly transformative potential to impact the world’s most pressing challenge is just starting to be realized. For example, AI can accelerate sustainability by helping to integrate new sources of renewable energy into the grid, optimize energy and water consumption, anticipate weather events, speed up the discovery of low-carbon building materials, and more.

Real-time user cases

Already, AI is already making a significant impact in helping organizations accelerate sustainability. For example, Etihad Airways is using advanced analytics and AI to measure and benchmark its environmental footprint to implement carbon efficiency savings across its business operations.

Hudhud, an Arabic AI Farmer Virtual Assistant App launched by the Egyptian government, is facilitating real-time guidance and data on agricultural best practices to more than 50 million farmers, covering 70 per cent of farming land across the country. And, our AI solutions are helping DEWA and Beeah Group build two of the smartest and most sustainable buildings in the region, setting a new benchmark for future workspaces.

Microsoft will be at COP28 along with 20 of our partners to showcase how technology can help us on the path to Net Zero. The conference is an opportunity to demonstrate how new tools can make a difference. It is a chance to chart a new course toward a sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for all. Microsoft will leverage our participation at COP28 to support innovation, promote rapid policy action, and advance AI the technology that we know is needed to enable the world to meet the Paris Agreement goals.