Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, is building momentum on the critical role of finance in addressing global sustainability challenges ahead of COP28 as it opened the second Sustainable Finance Summit on June 7, 2023.
The Summit, held at the DIFC Atrium as part of the DIFC-hosted Global Ethical Finance Initiative’s (GEFI) ‘Path to COP28’ program, outlined strategies for finance to decarbonise the real economy.
It brought together some of the brightest minds in the finance industry to explore ways for the sector to lead action on climate change and deliver a just transition to a sustainable economy. Reflecting the importance of the finance industry to accelerating climate change initiatives, welcome remarks were provided via video by COP28 Director General Ambassador, Majid Al Suwaidi.
As the UAE prepares to host COP28, the summit aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that focusse on making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
Commenting on the ‘Path to COP28’ program, Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “Collaborating with Global Ethical Finance Initiative for the ‘Path to COP28’ program, including the second Sustainable Finance Summit supports DIFC’s commitment to play a leading role in advancing the nation’s COP28 priorities which include accelerating net zero goals. The Summit also builds on our vision of paving the way for coordinated global solutions to deliver on the climate financing needs of emerging markets and developing economies, whilst supporting sustainable economic growth for Dubai, UAE and wider region.”
High demand led to more than 1,000 industry professionals registering for 300 places at the Summit where discussions centered around COP28 priorities for the sector including environmental and social impact, climate aware investing, and financing nature.
Omar Sheikh, Managing Director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, commented: “The global stock take at COP28 will be a critical turning point, marking progress toward the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement. The UAE is expected to lead the way in terms of finding the realistic, practical, and pragmatic solutions required to accelerate the global energy transition. Our ‘Path to COP28,’ with 50+ global partners, is the first, and now one of the largest, finance-focused campaigns for COP28. Together with DIFC, and supported by our partners from across the globe, we are delivering an integrated programme of advocacy activities, including the Summit, to raise awareness, and help expedite climate action across the finance sector.”
Global industry stalwarts were leading discussions on the crucial role of finance in driving and shaping the transition to a net-zero economy. In his keynote address, Nick Robins, Professor in Practice for Sustainable Finance at the London School of Economics, and author of ‘The Road to Net Zero Finance,’ highlighted the responsibility of the sector in financing a more just and equitable transition. Robins discussed the need to mobilise finance for climate action and explore how the financial system can support the restoration of nature.
In an in-depth conversation, Satya Tripathi, Secretary General, Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet, and a development economist, lawyer and changemaker, explored ways to make nature count in global finance and to build an inclusive, sustainable world. Having served with the UN for more than two decades in key positions across the planet and with experience in leveraging ‘private finance for public good’, Tripathi discussed how the financial system must innovate to successfully integrate nature-related risks and opportunities.
Other speakers at the event included Alya Al Zarouni, Chief Operating Officer, DIFC Authority; Christian Kunz, Chief Strategy, Innovation and Ventures Officer, DIFC Authority; Eline Sleurink, Head of UK & Ireland and Middle East, Signatory Relations, PRI; David Sheasby, Head of Stewardship, Sustainability and Impact, Martin Currie; Vijay Bains, Chief Sustainability Officer, Emirates NBD; and Christian Guckel, Chief Risk Officer, Sedco Capital, amongst others.
On the side lines of the Summit, GEFI and DIFC Academy, the executive education centre of DIFC, hosted the third Climate Finance Training Series session to support finance practitioners develop better understanding of the COP process, global trends in climate finance and best practice approaches to developing and implementing net zero strategies. At the invitation only Power Round Table Series, global and local experts enriched their understanding of local financial institutions and stakeholders on the opportunities and challenges presented by COP28 including responsible banking, investment, and Islamic finance.
Since the debut of the ‘Path to COP28’ program, DIFC and GEFI organised the world’s first finance summit, which attracted leading investment firms, banks, policymakers, and financial service providers. In addition to several roundtables and the ‘Women in Finance’ symposium, the second Climate Finance Training Series session was also held where finance practitioners gained insights on how to navigate global and local climate finance regulations, initiatives, and frameworks.
In the months ahead, DIFC will continue to work towards shared solutions to address the issues of the climate challenge. Upcoming events include the DIFC Future Sustainability Forum, a session exploring expectations of COP28 for the finance industry and the International Corporate Governance Network Global Conference. DIFC will also host and participate in a series of discussions and other events throughout the duration of COP28 until December 12, 2023.