UAE Committed to a Sustainable Future


Green Business Summit 2018 opens in Abu Dhabi at the Rosewood Hotel

The Green Business Summit 2018 opened in Abu Dhabi today with a keynote address by Charles Goddard, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Asia-Pacific editorial director, who welcomed attendees and highlighted the significant opportunities and challenges faced by business leaders, policymakers, and investors as nations around the world strive to adopt sustainable development practices. Organised by The Economist Events, part of the global English-language weekly newspaper, the first-of-its-kind Summit took place at the Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Charles Goddard said: “Sustainability and green business are the defining issues, the defining themes of our time. It has been roughly two years since the Paris Agreement when the world agreed to cap global emissions to limit climate change and global warming, and it has been two and a half years since the Sustainable Development Goals were ratified by the United Nations. These are rightly seen as seminal moments, a sea-change in our thinking on societies and development. Today we will be asking, how much progress has been made?”

Speaking on the subject of green business, Goddard added: “On the important transition of business, there has been some gathering progress in terms of sustainability. Corporate commitments have been made and are beginning to be met. However, despite these positive developments, progress remains fragmented and quite piece-meal. The task ahead is quite daunting.”

Speaking during the first business panel of the day, titled ‘From responsibility to leadership’, Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), commented on her Agency’s relationship with the business community: “I think we can do more with the private sector, which is why I am here today, it gives us at the Environment Agency a chance to better understand the needs and challenges faced by businesses.”

Commenting on the evolving role of EAD, H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak said: “It is one thing when government agencies are the only ones responsible for safeguarding the environment, and it is another thing when the private sector shares responsibility for monitoring its impact. Sharing the task of protecting the environment with the private sector increases awareness and understanding of environmental regulation and leads to better outcomes and a cleaner, safer environment for us all – this is one of the many ways we can move the needle from compliance to beyond compliance and towards innovation. At the heart of this transition are public-private partnerships, which enable continuous improvement and kick-start innovation.”

Discussing the occasional tension between businesses and environmental protection, His Excellency Khaleefa Salem Al Mansouri, Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Economic Development (DED), said: “ Sometimes there is a clash between business objectives and maintaining and respecting the environment. However, over the past ten years we have focused on achieving our economic objectives while at the same time protecting the environment. It is always a challenge, but we are working to find the right formula for businesses and industries to grow while mitigating their impact on the environment.”


H.E. Khaleefa Salem Al Mansouri also highlighted the importance of investing early in green technology, describing the questions he used to receive when the UAE first began to invest in renewable and green energy: “People used to ask me why Abu Dhabi was interested in sustainable technology such as solar power when we had such massive hydrocarbon reserves. Now, having started years ago, our investments in solar energy and other technologies are bearing fruit as we are becoming a hub for the development renewable technologies.”

After a brief networking break, His Excellency Thani Bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, delivered a ministerial address, highlighting the numerous sustainability initiatives and environmental programs being developed and implemented in the UAE.

H.E. Al-Zeyoudi emphasised that the UAE is well aware of the future impact of climate change and is firmly committed to the Paris Agreement. His Excellency highlighted that last year the UAE launched its National Climate Change Plan, at the heart of which is the target of generating 27% of the country’s energy from clean sources by 2021, and 50% by 2050. H.E. Al-Zeyoudi also stressed the pivotal role played by the private sector in this transition and how the UAE government is advancing public-private partnerships across numerous sectors to incentivise sustainable practices and support green innovation. His Excellency then went on to offer a few examples of sustainable initiatives taking place in the UAE, such as DP World’s launch of the Middle East’s largest solar rooftop project, whose 88,000 solar panels are expected to provide enough clean power for 3,000 homes a year.

Following the ministerial address, Siim Kiisler, Estonia’s Minister of Environment and Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, hosted a panel discussion on the politics of change. They discussed how policymakers can cultivate sustainable practices through regulatory frameworks and partnerships with the private sector that encourage environmental innovation. Siim Kiisler pointed out that putting a price tag on pollution is very complicated and Khaled Mohamed Fahmy Abdel Aal added that this was exactly why his government is encouraging industry to comply with strict emissions targets.

Transitioning from policymaking to the financial sector, Eklavya Sareen, HSBC’s MENAT Regional Head of Advisory, Sean Kidney, Chief Executive Officer of the Climate Bonds Initiative, Mark Campanale, Founder of Carbon Tracker, and Michael Tran, Director of Global Energy Strategy at RBC hosted the next panel discussion on encoding sustainability into capital markets. Speaking for all the panellists, Eklavya Sareen stated that climate change is an existential risk for humankind, and the largest challenge faced by humanity. However, the panellists also agreed that the financial industry is well positioned to become a driver of the shift towards green growth, and that financial institutions and markets can collaborate with governments and international associations, to improve financial flows to environmental innovators and adopters.

On the sidelines of the Summit, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) jointly announced the creation of the EnviroTech Awards, to be incorporated as a part of the Technology Innovation Pioneer (TIP) programme initiated by the Ministry of Economy and DED to accelerate the development of technology and innovation in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE.

The Green Business Summit 2018, hosted by The Economist Events, is sponsored by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) and co-sponsored by the Department of Economic Development (DED), with supporting partner Emirates Wildlife Society and media partner The Business Year. The Summit is running from 8:00am to 5:30pm at the Rosewood Hotel, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. For further information on the Green Business Summit 2018 visit:
The event has been supported by: Middle East Solar Industry Association, Energy Institute Middle East, University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Clean Energy Business Council, AmCham Abu Dhabi, Alternative Energy Africa, Oil & Gas Directory Middle East, Innovators Magazine, The Business Year, Energetica India, The Sustainabilist, and World CSR Day.

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