Dubai: Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), in association with Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD), recently conducted a forum titled ‘Bridging the Climate Finance Gap’.
The hybrid forum brought together global and local financial experts who came together in Dubai to discuss and express their viewpoints on the strong financial contributions that are required to necessitate the steps that will drive climate actions. The forum brought together eight expert panellists to the stage and witnessed high attendance of people representing the financial sector and various other entities as well as local and federal government entities. As the world looks towards shifting to a sustainable future that accomplishes ‘Net Zero’ goals and sustainable development goals, the financial institution will have to play a vital role.
To discuss and assess the financial scenario and gap, the forum was divided into two panel discussions: ‘Scaling Up Green Finance – What COP28 can Achieve’ and ‘Shifting the Investment Ecosystem: Integrating a Long-Term Sustainability Perspective’.
Habiba Al Mar’ashi, Co-Founder and Chairperson of EEG, in her speech said: “The title of the forum was chosen not only to remind us that we have a climate crisis that is devastating many parts of the world. It was also chosen to bring awareness to the fact that there is a massive financial gap in addressing the climate issue that is going to make things much worse, especially for nations and people that need support.”
To further reiterate the importance of this forum and key role of private sector, she further called various entities to action.
“If you are an investor or heading your business, you need to provide capital to issuers who will play their part – not only because this is needed to transition to net zero, but also because those investors and businesses not stepping up will be left behind.”
The Forum was graced by the attendance of Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary General – UN who said in his address: “COP28 in this part of the world is an opportunity to send a clear message, that the private sector, private capital will come on board, advancing the Paris accord. We also saw, 20 years ago it was inconceivable to come into this region and talk about renewable energy, solar energy, shifting away from fossil fuels. Decarbonising your economy, it’s a main stream thought in this part of the world. We are here to share with you, the knowledge that we have generated so far, but also to learn from you the challenges that you are confronted with.”
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Emirates Environmental Group invited their Honorary Member Dr Nasser Saidi, Chairman of Clean Energy Business Council to give the keynote address, in which he said: “The politicians and policy-makers signing on Net Zero emissions are not going to be around when the issues come and bite, so I for one think that these climate and net zero emission commitments have got to be enshrined in constitutions. If they are in constitutions, they become much more difficult to disregard. I think we need to start helping countries introduce climate into their constitutions; have climate change laws.” He further continued his speech by stating the financial needs of the countries. “If you look at the climate finance needs of the Arab countries, it is estimated to be US$ 570 billion by 2030, if you look at public international climate finance that went into this part of the world, it’s only US$ 34 billion. That’s 6% of what the countries say they need. So, when we are meeting here to talk about the gap, it’s an enormous gap that needs to be filled.”
Funding the gap
The first panel discussion of the day Scaling Up Green Finance – What COP28 can Achieve’ discussed the COP 28 to be held in the UAE in November of this year and the necessity for this global event to go further and more ambitiously to accelerate the development and implementation of climate funds, to ensure that the success of UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Government alone does not have the resources to fund the gap, the private sector investment is also very critical to achieving these climate fund gaps through green financing that can focus on environmental priorities, the forum heard.
The discussion highlighted obstacles, the role of GISD to scale finance, lessons learned from previous COPs and actions to bring regional-level finances. This discussion was moderated by Shameela Soobramoney, Chief Sustainability Officer - Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The expert panellists included:
• Jay Collins, Vice Chairman, Banking, Capital Markets, Advisory, Citi
• Marc-André Blanchard, Executive Vice-President and Head of CDPQ Global
• Kristina Kloberdanz, Chief Sustainability Officer, Macquarie Asset Management
• Benoit Felix, Global Head of Structured Finance, Banco Santander
• Boitumelo Sethlatswe, Head of Societal Impact, Standard Bank Group
The second panel discussion titled ‘Shifting the investment ecosystem: integrating a long-term sustainability perspective’ emphasised the need to shift to take actions and initiatives that look at long-term sustainable perspectives rather than short term return goals. Investment firms, commercial banks, capital market actors, and corporations have to align their interests and resources to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and set aside a small amount of assets that encourage long-term sustainability-oriented behaviour. The discussion revolved around obstacles, incentives, actions, and solutions that are relevant to long-term sustainability goals. The session was moderated by Gavin Power, Chief of Sustainable Development and International Affairs - Pimco.
Panellists who brought their unique perspectives on the matter included:
• Timothée Jaulin, Head of ESG Business Development – Amundi
• Krishnan Sharma, Chief, Strategic Engagement Unit, FSDO/DESA
• Franziska Ehm, Head of Strategy - Allianz SE
• Tan Moorthy, Executive Vice President, Infosys
• Robert Vicsai, Portfolio Manager, Sustainable Investments, SEB Investment Management
The event was successful in bringing together numerous entities that will play a vital role in financing climate actions that will drive a sustainable economy and environment towards achieving net zero goals. The event was successful in part due to the sponsors that came on board to support this unique event. Habiba Al Mar’ashi thanked McDonald’s UAE for coming on board as Co-Sponsor and KEO International Consultants and Tristar Group as Support Sponsors. The event concluded with great reception from the audience that took away pivotal knowledge and importance of their role in the achievement of environmental sustainability; followed by a Gala Dinner.