Sustainability Middle East Magazine

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Top global figures offer sustainability expertise ABILITY SUSTAIN A COP27 review and a look to COP28 in Dubai Fostering Industry Conversation From sustainable states, to how-to content, to green construction & more 7 Exclusive Insights into Sustainability in the M.E. Interviews with the biggest names in business, sustainability & tech Big Names from Around the World Issue 01 / SPRING 2023
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2 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST CONTENTS How Middle Eastern Leaders are ‘Greenifying’ the Region Sustainable States Page 06 Sustainability Trends in the Middle East Page 14 Middle Eastern Solar Energy Production: Potential and Promise Page 12 Contents FEATURES 14 16 About Us Page 04 Green Construction in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities Page 16

LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY 2023

Welcome

From the CEO, Sam Khan

We are delighted to bring this inaugural edition of SME to the region, and the aim is for this to be the start of many editions that change the conversation around sustainability in the Middle East. For those who are new to SME, allow me to offer a quick insight into who we are and what we’re aiming to achieve.

Sustainability is the sector I started my career in many years ago, and since then it’s been the arena I wanted to eventually move into, so I’ve kept an eager eye on developments over the years as my career took me in many different directions in the Middle East and into several vital industries. Ultimately, I formed CBM Media, an organisation originally focussed on transport and logistics, a field I have much experience in.

The key title in CBM Media is Transport & Logistics Middle East (TLME), and with TLME, we published numerous industry-leading magazines, released a series of popular media content, and introduced new events and award ceremonies in Dubai. Yet as we grew in the sector, sustainability went from being a key theme to the key theme we focussed on, and soon it became clear that we had to begin a business with sustainability at its core.

This coincided with the Middle East becoming a pioneer in sustainable practices, so with this natural synergy, SME was born. Next, with my contacts across the Middle East – and further afield – I assembled a top international team of editors, designers, and writers to make this a reality and now we can bring you our first edition.

This first edition offers an insight into the leading voices in sustainability, with each offering a powerful, unique insight into climate action that can aid us in our mission of becoming the platform within which the key conversations in sustainability can be fostered. Yet this is just the beginning for SME, we also have the huge 1-Billion Views Campaign in the works which is all about raising awareness around sustainability, and we have a massive conference and awards ceremony down the line too.

In a few words; keep your eyes peeled!

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Page 31 COP27 REVIEW Page 18
COP28 Page 20 Key issues to watch The Benefits
Business: Building a Sustainable Future
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Key takeaways from Sharm-El-Sheikh
of Green
Ways to Greenify your Business
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The Environmentally Sustainable Bitcoin: Coming Soon Or A Bridge too Far?
Sustainable Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges

ABILITY SUSTAIN

Sustainability Middle East (SME) is a new platform drawing on years of experience in the sustainability arena, specifically in the Middle East. Our aim is to bring new energy to the sector, with a threefold mission to:

1. Inform the Middle East region on the latest developments in sustainability

2. To be a core driver of positive change

3. To be a pioneer in bringing together key voices from academia and business to create a cleaner, greener, and happier Middle East region

SME aims to achieve this mission via a range of interactive publications (both digital and in print), daily news and insight, unforgettable industry-leading events, and special seminars.

WHY SME?

SME is an offshoot of CBM Media Group, a Dubai-based publisher and 5-star events company known for producing the highly esteemed transport and logistics title Transport & Logistics Middle East (TLME), as well as a string of highly successful events such as The Transport & Logistics Excellence Awards, Future of Logistics Conference & The Transport & Logistics Innovation Awards in Dubai. With this backing, SME already has a deep understanding of the importance, power, and potential of sustainable developments as transport and logistics is innately tied to this core issue, meaning that SME already works with several big industry names and renowned academics on green-related matters. Secondly, SME management has prior experience in running industry-leading sustainability-focused titles, while fostering an international editorial team with experience writing on sustainability for a number of years, as well as hosting events in this specific area.

SME NEWS SERVICE

The SME News Service blends a mixture of cutting-edge breaking news alongside more in-depth thoughtful industry insights written both in-house and via interviewing and liaising with key industry figures.

The aim of the news service is to be a one-stop-shop for all sustainability needs in the Middle East region, an online home where users can sharpen up on the latest goings-on, find industry specific insight and content, and discover the ‘movers-and-shakers’ of the contemporary sector.

SME MAGAZINE

The SME magazine is a bi-annual publication that offers exclusive insights, interviews with industry leaders, and papers from key industry voices alongside comprehensive overviews of the major sectors in the Middle East.

SME EXPERT PANEL

The SME Expert Panel is a place where the magazine comes alive. Here we invite VVIPS, leading brands, businesses, experts, and academics to foster the next generation of sustainability in the Middle East. The Expert Panel is a must-attend for major brands in technology & digital Innovation, construction & Infrastructure, lifestyle & fashion, and transport & logistics, as it offers an opportunity to rub shoulders with the elite of these sectors and world-leading voices in sustainability.

SME AWARDS

The SME Awards are here to inspire, recognise and celebrate the individuals, companies, and thought leaders who are taking the sector to new heights. CBM Media, the mother-company of SME, is highly experienced in bringing industry-leading awards to the region after holding several high-profile awards ceremonies with Transport & Logistics Middle East, SME’s sister brand. In utilising this expertise, the SME Awards will provide a blend of celebration, networking, and esteem to those who most deserve it; the people and companies who are building a better tomorrow.

EDITORIAL editorial@cbmmediagroup.com

Chairman Joe Beydoun

Editors

Sunil Thakur

Baibhav Mishra

Head of Editorial

Richard Joy

Head of Digital Juzer Karbalai juzer@cbmmediagroup.com

COMMERCIAL

Publisher & CEO Sam Khan sam.khan@cbmmediagroup.com

All material is strictly copyright and rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publishers is prohibited. CBM Mediagroup does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.

4 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST ABOUT
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27th Floor, Marina Plaza Dubai UAE

FEATURES

ABILITY SUSTAIN

Sustainable States

How Middle Eastern Leaders are

Middle Eastern cities, states and regions have grown from being key cultural coordinates between east and west to being world-leading centres for economics, business, lifestyle, tourism and more in a stunningly short time. Perhaps outside the stunning rise of Beijing and Shanghai, nowhere else have we ever witnessed such vast and fast growth. And it’s not as if cities like Dubai lack behind the Chinese counterparts in terms of speed of growth with it being something of a dead-heat since the two regions began to revolutionise in the 90s.

What could be said of the Middle East, however, and especially Dubai, is that it’s become more of a ‘world destination’. By all means, China attracts the best and brightest and has an international demographic travelling to and from its major cities, but the Middle East has more of an openness and shared mission with its global counterparts. After all, it has now produced cities that have become part of the core lexicon of the modern cosmopolitan world – New York. Tokyo. Dubai. This is what I mean by the affiliation with major cities, Dubai rolls off the tongue with other world-leading municipalities, with Dubai and the Middle East now attracting the finest not just in business, but also fashion, sports, and social development.

With this growth comes the demand to not just adhere to present trends, but actively integrate them into the politics of a region, reshape them and find new ways to innovate and inspire global leaders. This is why sustainability is at the core of many of the latest developments in the Middle East.

Sustainability is at the core of the global conversation because it impacts every one of us. This, while symbolising the threat that climate change holds, also acts as a way to unite the world in a shared fight against a shared foe. Henceforth, there’s a win-win here for all key players in the region: we can build a better tomorrow as well as strengthen bonds and operations with other key regions, and then see the Middle East take a major role on the global stage as a bonus.

With this in mind, this piece looks at how the leaders in each of the Middle East’s major areas are operating with regard to sustainability, new business models and new governing ideologies to ensure a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai & Vice President of the UAE

Igave Dubai a big entrance in the intro, it feels just to begin here. Sustainability isn’t exactly new on the agenda for Dubai, with Sheikh Mohammed stating back in 2012: “Environmental security is a key component of sustainable development. Our duty is to preserve the environment for future generations.” In fact, Sheikh Mohammed’s commitment dates well before that, with the launch of the inaugural Zayed Sustainability Prize in 2008.

Since then, the Prize has grown from an ambitious, UAE leadership-driven initiative that sought to encourage global action on the development of renewable energy solutions into one of the most significant and globally renowned awards for affecting positive human and sustainable impact. In its first 10 years, the Prize has added categories and expanded its reach by rewarding an ever-increasing number of visionaries, innovators and pioneers, all in the field of renewable energy.

Following the 2018 awards ceremony, the Zayed Future Energy Prize recognised the need for a strategic refocus. Understanding that the world now faces an increasingly complex and growing set of development challenges, the Prize management chose to adapt its approach so that, from the 2019 awards, sustainability solutions across multiple sectors would be recognised.

To bring us up to more recent times, Sheikh Mohammed has championed a raft of sustainable practices that has led him to describe Dubai and the UAE as “…one of the most pioneering regions in the world with regard to sustainability.”

His Highness made the comments at the beginning of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2022. Highlighting the importance of ADSW, the first global gathering of its kind after COP26, Sheikh Mohammed said:

“Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week lays a pathway for COP28 when the UAE will welcome the world in 2023. The continued success of ADSW, which every year sets the sustainability agenda for the year to come, fully reflects our nation’s

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‘Greenifying’

leadership in the field of climate action. This year’s convening of ADSW as part of Expo 2023 provides an opportunity for the convergence of global expertise to stimulate constructive dialogue and push efforts towards implementing innovative solutions,” he added.

His Highness concluded: “The UAE, guided by the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was and continues to be one of the pioneering countries in the fields of climate action, energy transformation

and the adoption of renewable energy as a solution for addressing environmental issues and their impact on people’s lives and the health of the planet.

“The UAE has continued to express this commitment by developing a group of the world’s largest and most innovative clean energy projects. These efforts culminated in the launch of the Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, which reflects our commitment to create a future free of emissions.”

Yet it isn’t just Sheikh Mohammed

himself marking the pioneering efforts of the UAE, with South Korean leader President Moon Jae-in stating at the same ceremony: “The UAE is a powerhouse of sustainable development for the Middle East and beyond, with pathways showing the way for the rest of the world.”

Also, later in July 2022, Sheikh Mohammed received the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice 2021 on the theme of Environmental Sustainability. The Harmony Foundation said it “embarked on the 17th year of the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards for Social Justice 2021 felicitating selfless individuals, leaders, youth, and organisations who have worked relentlessly in the realm of augmenting Environmental Sustainability. The Harmony Foundation has been proud to acknowledge individuals from various walks of life, from students to corporates, who are no less than the warrior-visionaries of our times and have diligently worked towards the conservation and preservation of our planet.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed was awarded for the UAE’s “phenomenal” long-term roadmap towards achieving environmental goals such as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, ‘UAE Energy Strategy 2050’ (amongst many others in the UAE under his leadership and guidance).

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The UAE has continued to express this commitment by developing a group of the world’s largest and most innovative clean energy projects. These efforts culminated in the launch of the Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, which reflects our commitment to create a future free of emissions.

His Royal Highness

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi & President of the UAE

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the figure behind the aforementioned Zayed Sustainability Prize that was launched in 2008 in commemoration of his father, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who in turn is credited as the founding father of the formation of the UAE by uniting the seven emirates. Given this family heritage, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sustainability as a central theme of his governance.

In fact, the Zayed Prize is the UAE’s pioneering global award recognizing smallto medium-size enterprises, non-profit organisations, and academic institutions for their innovative, impactful and inspirational sustainability and humanitarian solutions across the five categories of health, food, energy, water and global high schools. With 96 winners across the world, over 370 million people have been impacted by the sustainability solutions and school projects since the first awards ceremony in 2009, with this the number, continuing to rapidly grow

Delivering remarks on Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the previously featured Sheikh Mohammed highlighted the support, involvement and directives of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince by saying: “The UAE continues to make important strides and contributions to advancing the global sustainability agenda to stimulate economic and human sustainable development, under the leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Adding: “Over the last 14 years, the wise and long-term vision and legacy of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed, has ignited the passions of millions of sustainability pioneers the world over, inspiring us to take the prize to new heights by strengthening and diversifying its offerings to become the all-encompassing award it is today.”

In more practical terms, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has made education a key foundation in order to achieve sustainable development in Abu Dhabi, as well as to be prepared for the post-oil era.

Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Hammadi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education for Performance Improvement, said President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed’s support for education is not limited to establishing a vision and ideas, but it also includes monitoring and

conducting field visits, launching distinguished initiatives, honouring outstanding students and issuing directives aimed at advancing scientific development.

Shiekh Mohamed bin Zayed has invested Dh6 million (US$ 1.63 million) to buy books and educational material as part of the showcasing of 500,000 book titles at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2021 and also looking into establishing the Mohamed bin Zayed Award for Best Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Teacher. The award has enlarged its scope to include 13 countries and highlights the value of teachers and the award’s mission,

enabling them to perform their national duties to prepare a generation equipped with knowledge and skills.

Al Hammadi noted Sheikh Mohamed’s directives to improve the skills of students and create a motivating environment to achieve an educational renaissance, adding that the UAE is characterised by its cultural identity and traditional ethical values. Sheikh Mohamed’s vision includes promoting academic and ethical values among children and the youth, as ethics are a key elements in comprehensive development.

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Al Hammadi said: “We are proud of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed’s vision and decisions, which have boosted education at all levels as part of a future strategy, along with his keenness to establish the Institute of Applied Technology — Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Institute for Vocational Education, and the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, as well as to encourage the best universities in the world to open their branches in Abu Dhabi, such as Sorbonne University and New York University, and increase the number of students enrolled in graduate

programmes.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan has also championed Abu Dhabi’s move away from being an oil-based economy to a modern, self-supporting and inspirational, green state. In a speech during the World Government Summit, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan had said the country would celebrate the last barrel of oil shipped out, voicing the country’s vision to move away from an oil-dependent economy.

“In 50 years, when we might have the last barrel of oil, the question is: when it is shipped abroad, will we be sad? If we are

investing today in the right sectors, I can tell you we will celebrate at that moment.”

Abu Dhabi’s transformation from a little-known emirate to a global cultural and sporting destination under the leadership of Sheikh Mohamed was significant. A modern state began to emerge with new attractive real estate developments on Saadiyat Island, the building of worldclass museums like Louvre Abu Dhabi that turned the capital city into a cultural hub, establishment of higher education institutions like the New York Abu Dhabi University and leisure and entertainment destinations such as Yas Island that is home for the world’s first Ferrari-themed park.

Also, the establishment of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Ruwais is an important part of the UAE’s efforts to diversify its energy sources and provide clean and efficient energy to homes, businesses and government facilities while reducing its carbon footprint. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is expected to prevent up to 22 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to removing 4.8 million cars from the roads.

The UAE has made an ambitious climate commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The nuclear power plant will play a huge role in decarbonising the electricity supply to meet the target. The UAE will host the climate change summit COP28 in 2023, which is seen as a milestone in the country’s efforts to address and accelerate climate change issues.

“The UAE is honoured to have been selected as the host country for COP28 in 2023. We look forward to working with the international community to accelerate global efforts to address climate change & environmental protection and create a more sustainable economic future,” His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan recently stated. In 2021, he announced the launch of a global clean energy powerhouse intended to spearhead the drive to net-zero carbon

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In 50 years, when we might have the last barrel of oil, the question is: when it is shipped abroad, will we be sad?
If we are investing today in the right sectors, I can tell you we will celebrate at that moment.

His Royal Highness

Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia

While it is Mohammed bin Salman’s father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is the leader of Saudi Arabia, it is his son – the Crown Prince and Prime Minister – that is making waves with regard to social, economic and environmental change in the Kingdom. This may be a strategy, as Mohammed bin Salman (colloquially known as MBS) is naturally a much younger man whose destiny is to lead Saudi Arabia into a new epoch.

When observing the speeches, policies and goals of MBS, one can see the essence of a man rooted in his country’s traditions, with an understanding of global affairs, social change and cultural zeitgeist. This has led many in the global media to refer to Mohammed bin Salman as something of a relative ‘progressive’ who, according to Time magazine, is aiming to ‘transform’ the Middle East.

The centrepiece of the ongoing transformation in Saudi Arabia is of course Vision 2030, a strategic framework which aims at reducing Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism. The key goals include reinforcing economic and investment activities, increasing non-oil international trade, and promoting a softer and more secular image of the Kingdom.

Sustainability has also been at the heart of Vision 2030 since its inception. Saudi Arabia is now ushering in a new era as the Kingdom aims to reach Net Zero by 2060. This announcement is in line with wider Vision 2030 ambitions to accelerate the energy transition, achieve

sustainability goals, and drive a new wave of investment.

Mohammed bin Salman said of the aims: “Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs. Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.”

These words have been buttressed by the launch of the ‘Saudi Green Initiative’ which targets to implement the aforementioned aims as well as hit some key markers such as reducing carbon emissions by 278 mtpa, by 2030, planting 10 billion (yes, billion) trees across Saudi Arabia and to protect an extra 30% of land and sea space.

Further, Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh is also transforming in an attempt to reduce the effects of climate change as a part of the Saudi Green Initiative. The Kingdom aims to plant 10 billion trees as mentioned above, and Riyadh and its surroundings will will, according to Dr Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, Adviser and Professor of Law at the Institute of Public Administration, be the site of 7.5 million of those..

Al-Obaidy told Arab News: “This project is one of the most ambitious tree-planting projects ever undertaken worldwide. The (7.5 million) trees (around Riyadh) will be selected from those compatible with Riyadh’s weather and environment. New irrigation networks will be established to use recycled water. This will raise the quantity of recycled water being used across the city.”

He added that the project will help

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Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs.
Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.

improving and promoting Riyadh’s image as an environmentally friendly metropolis, and that it will reduce the capital’s energy consumption and ultimately cut down health-care expenditure by promotinghealthier lifestyles for its residents.

Ultimately, the goal is to ‘green’ the capital enough to lower its ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), giving the city a cushion against climate change in a region where summer temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit are already common. Finally, the projected zero-carbon city of NEOM being built in Saudi Arabia that will have vertical layers of buildings for work, living and leisure stretching for 170 kms over a futuristic landscape, the Kingdom’s Crown Prince has declared. Unveiling ‘THE LINE’, a primary feature of the US$500bn project, Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the flagship development will be partly financed through a public listing in the country’s stock exchange in two years’ time, and would be subject to its own autonomous legal system.

He added: “THE LINE is an affirmation of our firm commitment to presenting a project to the whole world. NEOM is a place for those who dream of a better tomorrow. We cannot ignore the liveability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues.’

“The city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities. The designs of The Line embody how urban communities will be in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions.”

Whichever way we look at it, it seems Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have an exciting future planned, perhaps one of – if not the –most exciting in the world. The developments here may well influence how the whole world follows.

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Middle Eastern Solar Energy Production: Potential and Promise

Since March 3rd, 1938, when an American-owned oil well discovered the largest source of petroleum oil in the world at Dharhan in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East region has played a crucial role in meeting the ever-increasing energy demands of the world. Today, with climate change staring us in the face, the Middle East region once again has the potential to play a critical role in producing massive amounts of energy. But this time, not the polluting kind underground, but the clean, renewable kind above ground by using the region’s vast stretches of flat, perennially sun-soaked deserts.

Another advantage that the Middle East enjoys is its proximity to Europe where the potential for solar energy production is limited and near sourcing of clean energy may soon become imperative. Couple these advantages with a maturing technology and falling prices of photo voltaic cells, the time is ripe for the region to begin its energy transition to solar power in earnest. Governments here have recognised this potential and are aggressively trying to make the move to cleaner energy sources.

The UAE, which is working on two of the largest solar energy projects in the world, today appears to be well on its way to achieving its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and a 23.5% reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGE) by 2030. The country plans to produce about 14GW of clean, renewables-based electricity by then. Till date, the UAE has seen investments of up to $40 billion in renewable energy.

Projected to be the largest single-site solar farm in the world, the Mohamed

Bin Rashid (MBR) Solar Park aims to produce 5GW of power by 2030. The project is being overseen by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. Phases 1,2 and 3 have been completed and are operational. Phase 4, called Noor Energy 1, is being constructed using three distinct solar technologies including Concentrated Solar Power using parabolic basins (600MW), solar power tower (100MW) and photo voltaic (PV) solar panels (25MW). DEWA owns 51% of Noor Energy 1 while ACWA Power holds 25%, and the Silk Road Fund owns 24%. The project is being commissioned in phases and is expected to be fully operational in 2023.

OTHER KEY DEVELOPMENTS

A consortium led by ACWA Power and Gulf Investment Corporation is developing the 900MW PV-based Phase 5 of the MBR Solar Park. When complete it will bring the total production from Park to 2.8GW by 2023. H.E. Saeed Mohammed

Al Tayer, MD & CEO DEWA has said: “DEWA works to achieve the fifth pillar of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which focuses on creating an environ-

mentally-friendly energy mix, with 25% coming from solar energy, 7% from nuclear power, 7% from clean coal, and 61% from gas by 2030.”

Back in 2019, Abu Dhabi commissioned - what was then – the world’s largest solar plant, Noor Abu Dhabi (1.17GW). Last year the emirate has announced new plans to install 8.8GW of capacity by 2025. Presently, the Al Dhafra solar power plant is being constructed in Abu Dhabi. Consisting of 3.5 million solar cells, when completed, it will reduce emissions by 2.4 million tonnes a year while producing 2.5 GW of electricity. Other UAE emirates like Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah are also in the process of rapidly implementing smaller scale projects.

On the distributed solar front, DEWA’s Shams Dubai program has seen widespread adoption across Dubai with homes and businesses making investments in rooftop solar panels following a “net metering” principle. This allows customers to produce their own solar energy to power their homes and businesses. This augments their conventional supply from the grid. Any surplus electricity produced by the rooftop which is not used, is immediately sold back to the grid at the same price as the conventional supply.

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Today, with climate change staring us in the face, the Middle East region has the potential to play a critical role in producing massive amounts of renewable energy.
Sunil Thakur, Staff Writer, SME
Projected to be the largest single-site solar farm in the world, the Mohamed Bin Rashid (MBR) Solar Park aims to produce 5GW of power by 2030.

SUSTAINABLE STATES

The UAE’s climate change efforts have been widely recognised at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. So much so that the UAE has been appointed to host of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28). Saudi Arabia is another country in the Middle East region that is aiming to become a solar energy powerhouse in the near future. The country has set a target of generating 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2060.

Saudi Arabia is attracting the maximum number of investors and developers for its solar energy and sustainable living projects. In this regard, the US$500 billion NEOM project has been getting a lot of attention. This under construction mega project when complete will require anywhere between 20 to 40 GW of green electricity that will be produced by a number of solar farms in the vicinity.

The Kingdom’s Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO) is also commissioning numerous solar projects. Phases 1 and 2 have already been awarded while phases 3, 4 and 5 are in various stages of the tendering process. Saudi Arabia is also rapidly setting up plants for the production of solar panels with the Saudi Authority for Industrial

Cities and Technology Zones (Modon) planning to add 23 solar panel factories in the country in the near future.

Egypt is another country making determined strides in renewable energy production. Last year the government announced the reservation of 7,600 sq. kms of land which has the potential to produce 90GW of solar-powered electricity. However, also in 2021, projects in the country slowed down to inflation concerns, rising solar cell prices and shipping costs.

Other Middle Eastern countries like Oman, Jordan, Qatar and Morocco are also setting themselves ambitious targets, but the pace of implementation is not as rapid as the other countries due to regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles. However, there is plenty of hope, with solar projects in the region offering electricity at some of the lowest prices in the world.

C OST FACTORS

With the current global average price of solar-powered electricity sitting at 4.8 cents/kWh the UAE and Saudi Arabia are commissioning projects where the maximum chargeable costs hover around 1.5 cents/kWh. Barring India and China, which also produce solar-based

electricity at comparative rates, the Middle East with its advantageous geographic location can continue to be the dominant supplier of a cheap power –this time solar power – to neighbouring Europe and Africa.

A recent report by Mordor Intelligence has projected that the Middle East solar power market will grow at CAGR of 11% over the next five years. This growth also provides opportunities for employment as the region’s economies move away from oil and gas production to solar energy production. Solar PV is widely recognized as a creator of more jobs per unit of energy produced than any other energy source. Unlike oil, the production of solar energy does not depend upon fixed amounts of available resources, but its growth depends on technological advancement as the sun comes up everyday offering the industry opportunity to continuously improve into the future.

As Moore’s law has demonstrated, computer processing power doubles every two years. Solar technology also promises to follow a similar exponential path of growth and value addition. Thus, ensuring that the Middle East will retain its position as a key supplier of energy to the rest of world in the coming years.

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Sustainability Trends in the Middle East

Governments across the Middle East are enthusiastically enforcing policies to discard traditional hydrocarbon practices and embrace sustainable solutions. This comes after the region was flagged as one of the world’s most polluted parts, the top environmental issue being highly polluted air.

According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Saudi Arabia had the world’s most polluted air in 2021 with PM 2.5 being the primary culprit. Following Saudi Arabia were Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Bahrain. These statistics have resulted in governments framing new regulations and policies towards climate action, striving to lower the trends.

Industries are compelled to follow the guidelines and aid a better and safer economy. In addition, there is a steep rise in investment and support for clean technologies and renewables. Today, investors are making educated and sustainable bets through sophisticated, forward-looking approaches, encompassing the sustainability of business models. Let us unfold some of these sustainability trends adopted in the Middle East.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Since 2013, the Middle East has invested a considerable portion of $1 trillion in renewable energy. The investment includes a Solar Park, said to lower the cost of renewable energy and increase the ratio of renewables in the region. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)’s efforts for clean energy are in line with the Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy 2050. Dubai’s Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 aims to provide 100% of Dubai’s energy production capacity from clean energy sources.

During Expo 2020 Dubai, the Middle East as a collective revealed a range of investments in renewable and solar energy, including solar farms and E-trees. A standing example of this development is The Terra Pavillion. It comprises a monumental solar array, functioning as a shade structure and water collector. Further, Saudi Arabia’s futuristic mega city NEOM will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature.

CIRCULAR ECONOMY

The circular economy model involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, and recycling existing materials. The intent is to extend the lifecycle of products. The UAE

produces the highest amount of water per capita, at 2.1 kg per day, followed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with 1.7kg and 1.5kg per capita each day, respectively. The circular economy model stands to save nearly 138 billion dollars by 2030 across Middle Eastern countries.

This model renders incentives for using healthy materials, leading to non-toxic and renewable energy. The initiatives shall help stop nearly 13,000,000 tonnes of plastic from polluting oceans. Moreover, this practice ensures that landfills can be reduced by about 2,000,000 tonnes yearly. The UAE Government is working towards developing a solar energy project comprising nearly 300 football fields.

PORTS AND LOGISTICS

DP World is prioritising sustainability and impact on the people, communities and environment as it operates on a day-today basis. In DP World’s Chief People Officer Maha Al Qattan’s words: “If we can improve ocean health, provide more equitable water access and connect more families to reliable sanitation, we can provide a critical foundation for improved economic growth, human rights and resilience to the effects of climate change.”

Similarly, Aidrivers has begun a proofof-concept initiative with AD Ports Group to explore opportunities regarding the deployment of autonomous transport solutions at the group’s ports and termi-

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The Solar Innovation Centre in Dubai

nals. Saudi Ports Authority (Mawani) has launched the Smart Ports initiative that aims to automate operations in Saudi ports using 5G Technologies. Finally, the UAE’s Ras Ghanada Coral Reef is a true embodiment of sustaining marine treasures, where Abu Dhabi Ports has invested US$239.61 million to build an 8 km breakwater as well as a trestle bridge to protect and preserve the reef.

SUSTAINABLE FINANCE

Green finance has been a top priority for the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. The overarching objective is to diversify regional economies. Another aspect is the rise of new products such as weather derivatives and catastrophe bonds with new assets such as green buildings. These help corporations better monitor and integrate risks in their decision-making processes and repertoire of products.

Note that for the Arab world, Islamic investments are already well-established. Hence, socially responsible and sustainable opportunities render a natural fit. In this way, sustainable financing can make GCC countries a global hub for new technologies focused on green solutions. Another aspect is the launch of new investment benchmarks that inform and educate investors on Shariah-compliant and sustainable opportunities, including the S&P/Hawkamah UAE ESG Index.

AUTOMOBILES (EVS)

As per Mordor Intelligence, in 2021, the Middle East Electric Vehicle market was valued at US$40.25 million and is expected to reach US$93.1 million by 2027. The effects of the pandemic are inevitable, and the Middle East market is no exception. However, the EV market is up for revival. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have successfully taken a proactive stance. The Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation (SASO) plans to issue regulations on the use of electric vehicles.

Dubai has also launched several initia-

tives to encourage sustainable choices over the past few years. For example, it plans to convert 25% of the city’s trips into driverless journeys by 2030. Saudi Arabia too has signed an MoU with the UK to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Saudi Vision 2030.

REAL ESTATE

In recent years, the Middle East has put considerable effort toward developing green buildings. Several sustainable cities are under development, including NEOM, the Zero Carbon city, and Masdar City. UAE also launched its first sustainable real estate investment trust in 2021. The Middle East advocates green trends such as carbon-neutral communities, public transport, no-car cities, self-sustaining urban planning, and on-site water treatment plans.

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar spearhead sustainability with the highest share of green buildings. Besides, Qatar’s Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) is among the most comprehensive rating systems in the world. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi’s Pearl Rating System (PRS) is a niche in itself. The Middle East building industry is adopting widespread use of eco-friendly architecture and sustainable construction practices. The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Climate Change Initiative Building (Dubai), and World Trade Centre (Bahrain) are some prominent green buildings. Another noteworthy development is UAE’s Masdar City securing US$200 million to expand its green real estate portfolio.

TRAVEL & TOURISM

Today, the Middle East region comprises beautiful places that support sustainable tourism. Mentioned below are some of the best sustainable tourist places.

• Amman, Jordan Jordan has some impeccable sustainable tourist spots. Amman, the capital city, resides close to the Ajloun Forest Reserve and the Dibeen Forest Reserve. The city also has one of the best-preserved

Roman-era sites. Also, the northern area of Jordan is home to the award-winning Feynan Ecolodge, making it an ecstatic place for a sustainable vacation.

• Marrakech, Morocco

The city of Marrakech is committed to green tourism. It was awarded ISO 14011 certification for its sustainable tourism efforts. Marrakech follows the Moroccan Sustainable Tourism Charter. More so, over 72 Moroccan accommodations have been awarded the Green Key for environmental responsibility. Of these, 30 are in Marrakech.

• Masdar City, UAE

Masdar is the first known eco-city in the world. The city obtains 100% of its energy from renewable sources. Also, it reduces its water consumption by using treated sewage for irrigation and recycling wastewater. Masdar Park is the highlight. Also enlivening the city is the captivating “Tree of Light”, made using recycled building materials, which changes colours when touched.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Innovations in sustainability trends are undoubtedly taking care of the environmental issue and contributing to the region’s economy. So, it is a win-win situation for all. With governments, industries, and people aligned to provide clean and breathable air to future generations, a healthy and net zero environment in the Middle East is not a far-fetched dream.

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Masdar City NEOM

Green Construction in the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities

Burj Khalifa, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Qatar’s new stadiums, and soon the Saudi smart city of NEOM; each of these are great symbols of the Middle East, representing a new era of innovation and architectural design. Yet what is the environmental cost of such projects?

According to the World Green Building Council, the construction industry is responsible for 39% of carbon dioxide emissions, 36% of global electricity consumption and 50% for the extraction of raw materials. In addition to this, construction works and buildings contribute to noise pollution, landscape alteration, and biodiversity damage. It is thereby evident how conventional techniques used in the construction sector are not in line with environmental efficiency and only worsen the already worrying level of smog in the air.

A HIDDEN POLLUTER

One staple of modern society is cement. It’s highly versatile, meaning it works in all manner of environments, including underground (as well underwater) in desert and arctic conditions and even on the top floors of skyscrapers. Cement is so ubiquitous as it resists fire and acts as a natural air conditioner by absorbing and releasing heat. Cement is so effective that it is the third most used substance after air and water globally. But there is a catch to this. The production of cement makes 600-700kg of CO2 per ton, it generates 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions against 12% of agriculture and 2.5% of aviation. Moreover, about half of the emissions come from the chemical reaction involved in the creation of clinker, one of cement’s main components.

While it’s true that over time the average emissions per unit of the product have decreased thanks to the pursuit of energy efficiency, it is also true that the process of creating materials has never been

radically changed. In fact, the extraction of raw materials, the use of high-temperature furnaces and the creation of clinker continue to have a huge impact in terms of gaseous emissions.

GREEN BUILDING

The answer to environmental challenges resulting from contemporary construction is a new model of sustainable architecture: green building. In essence, green building includes the utilization of renewable energies, new energy management philosophies, recyclable materials and zero-impact buildings. The term ‘green building’, or ‘green architecture’, indicates several ways of designing, building, and constructing technologies that aim at preserving the environment by reducing negative impacts on the planet.

Being the main source of pollution, building materials are the first element we must re-evaluate. Green construction pivots on the utilization of eco-friendly

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Another noteworthy development is UAE’s Masdar City securing $200 million to expand its green real estate portfolio.

natural materials instead of heavily processed or potentially toxic ones. Recycling materials is one valid option in the attempt to reduce the use of cement and the heavy impact of extracting more raw materials from the earth.

In this view, the construction industry has also recently increased its employ of alternative fuels whose ashes are used as raw material in cement production. An example is a green cement, produced using fly ash – a byproduct of coal – or slag left behind in blast furnaces during the manufacturing of iron. To further enhance the deployment of alternative fuels, access to waste and biomass and the benefits of co-processing are increasingly promoted by ad hoc States legislative measures.

Another key element of sustainable building is modular construction. This process involves using components that have been prefabricated or made in an off-site facility resulting in less material waste, reduced energy consumption and higher quality builds. Modular construction potentially reduces material waste by up to 30%. Ultimately, 3D printer technology provides a valid option to avoid tons of construction waste. Once the design is finalized, the printer knows exactly how much material is needed, meaning zero wastage. 3D technology also allows us to cut down transportation costs, as well as transportation emissions, as the printing can be made on-site.

GREEN BUILDING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

The Middle East faces a unique set of challenges with regards to sustainable building. Issues such as water shortages, the region’s historical reliance on fossil fuels, the dramatic pace of physical expansion, and temperatures that can reach highs of 50 °C make it challenging to implement meaningful change. Yet,

Middle Eastern countries are making great efforts in the field of sustainability by creating rating systems that set a framework for green building. Several key bodies that have been created include the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s Estidama; Dubai Municipality’s Green Building Regulations; and the Lebanese Green Building Council’s ARZ. In Qatar, the GORD’s GSAS: Global Sustainability Assessment System contributes to the gradual shifting towards more sustaina-

ble practices in design and construction. Furthermore, the region is making efforts to reach the ambitious target set by The World Green Building Council to reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve 100% net zero emissions by 2050. More recently, Middle Eastern countries are pursuing sustainability trends by redefining the concept of urbanization. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the mega project of NEOM, the new smart city in Saudi Arabia. In doing this, the country is conceiving a revolutionary way of life.

Masdar City is another good example. It has been developed by Abu Dhabi and will be another smart city in the region and there is also the Red Sea Project presently under construction by The Red Sea Development Company. This provides a sanctuary of sustainable tourism. Nevertheless, data keep suggesting that more needs to be done. The region still has a long way to go when it comes to anchoring the construction sector to green practices.

The lack of key infrastructure in most of the Middle Eastern countries still represents a barrier to achieving certain urban sustainable targets. For example, due to a lack of collection sites and recycling companies, only 10% of all metal and plastic waste in the GCC is recycled, reused or recovered, while the global average is 32%. These hurdles, combined with the expected increase of population by 2050, the growing urbanization and volume of travel will place an added strain on costly green building practices. A combination of process efficiency, raw material choices, sustainable fuel sources, continuous innovation, and breakthrough technology will all contribute to the accomplishment of the final objective: to improve human lives and

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Governments in the Middle East are making efforts to reach 40% less embodied carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve 100% net zero emissions by 2050.
Another noteworthy development is UAE’s Masdar City securing $200 million to expand its green real estate portfolio.

COP27 REVIEW

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM SHARM-EL-SHEIKH

2022’s Conference of the Parties (COP), the 27th instalment, has recently been completed, in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt to much fanfare. Described by some as ‘chaotic’ and others as ‘ground-breaking’, the event will most likely be remembered for being the UN climate change conference during which the Loss and Damage fund was agreed.

LOSS & DAMAGE FUND

The Loss and Damage fund comes after many years of wrangling and is being touted as a key moment for climate-vulnerable developing countries. There are still some elements to figure out, such as who pays what and when, but the fundamental groundwork is in place for a sustainable future. It remains notable however that this agreement did get over the line, which is perhaps symbolic of the changing pace of the climate conversation and the urgency under which work is being undertaken.

Nevertheless, while the Loss and Damage fund made strides, the remainder of the conference saw a variety of roadblocks and hurdles that make sustained progress challenging. This is why some commentators have referred to COP27 as a chaotic event in that it tried to do a great many things in a short space of time. Take, for instance, the issue of food systems. Despite food systems being in debate (as opposed to previous COPs), political obstacles stopped any real progress from being made and the issue became a political football rather than an area to make ground on.

This is important as food systems are responsible for about 33% of greenhouse gasses. Furthermore, they have a knock-

on effect in terms of poor diets – both for those in poverty, and those who imbibe a fast-food, unhealthy diet in richer countries. This conversation is challenging, yet requires more confidence and urgency, as it’s a major issue for global health and in building a sustainable global economy.

ADAPTATION –A THEME FOR UAE

As stated above, major progress was made on the loss and damage side of things but there wasn’t too much progress elsewhere. In essence, this opens up an opportunity for the next COP, to be held in the UAE. A potential theme is that of adaptation during COP28 in 2023. Adaptation refers to the ability of countries adapt to changes in the climate, as well as to political, social, and economic changes to life in order to work towards mitigating harmful impacts. COP28 provides the opportunity to build upon what COP27 never truly fleshed out, thereby providing the global driving force behind the much-touted ‘global goal on adaptation’ (GGA). The GGA is still awaiting final definition, yet the sooner this happens the faster countries and organisations can get the ball rolling on funding and political movements to carry it through around the world.

At COP27, parties did decide to define an outline to measure progress over the next year, and this will act as the source material for the next step at COP28. That said, there was moderate action regarding adaptation in Sharm-el-Sheikh. Take UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for example. He called for fast

and efficient early warning systems that can locate and warn people of dangerous weather events – something there is a public will for given extreme weather events around the world in the last few years. Guterres stated that he aims for this to become a reality ‘within the next five years’’.

IMPLEMENTATION & RESPONSIBILTY

Given that we are now at the 28th edition of COP in 2023, there’s also a drive from the sector to move climate action from ‘target-setting’ towards ‘implementation’. After all, target setting is necessary, but it takes place in boardrooms and conference halls, while real changes to the climate happen out in the world, in factories and fields, cities and countryside.

COP27 has shown that, as the implementation phase begins, integrity and accountability will be absolutely critical. When making major changes there needs to be a high degree of transparency and trust so people don’t lose faith in the intranational bodies carrying out essential climate action work our planet sorely needs. Further, climate action begins at home, and this means that those involved in the sector have a duty to practice what they preach and live sustainable lifestyles while working in sustainable organisations. The ‘say-one-thing-and-do-another’ politics and public relations strategies of the past can no longer stand, as we are all now under the microscope, and utilising the positive energy of climate action without backing it in reality is extremely damaging personally, professionally and, of course, to the cause.

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>>

ENERGY TRANSITIONS

All in all, there has been a lack of progress with regard to transitions in energy at COP27. The sad reality is that not many countries stood by their promises to increase the ambition of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), although Australia and the European Union (EU) were rare exceptions among the developed countries. Given the aforementioned point on walking the walk as well as talking the talk, this has obvious ramifications.

Further still, the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent energy prices spiralling out of control and this is something that highlights the danger of energy dependency. People around the world are feeling the pinch because of this and it could have been an opportunity to explore the possibility of energy transition. However, the conversation on carbon reductions, energy transition and fuel prices offered more of the same and risks us getting left behind in an ever

complex and changing world. Again, an opportunity will rear its head at COP28, during which a Global Stock Take is due to take place that is slated to include a review of national progress in meeting carbon abatement targets. This will be a key moment and unfortunately is likely to highlight once again how much faster the world needs to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel discussions show failure of imagination.

AGRICULTURE & FOOD SECURITY

COP27 saw the conclusion of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture –adopted in 2017 as the first and only formal UNFCCC agenda item focusing on agriculture and food security – in a decision to implement a new fouryear work programme focused on implementing solutions. While this has an objective of promoting holistic approaches to addressing climate impacts both on and from agriculture and food security, it disappointingly falls

short of taking a food systems lens that includes all activities and actors from farm to fork.

This year’s COP has clearly demonstrated a growing appreciation of the imperative of tackling food systems in their entirety There is now a small window of opportunity until March 2023 in the UAE for governments and civil society to shape and broaden this agenda for the next four years. If not in the negotiating halls, then certainly in the myriad side events and discussions focusing on the issue, this year’s COP has clearly demonstrated a growing appreciation of the imperative of tackling food systems in their entirety.

An overarching and integrated approach to sustainable food production, distribution, and retail; nutrition and dietary shifts; and addressing food loss and waste will be vital to making comprehensive headway in addressing climate change and other planetary and social challenges. It is important the parties at COP28 in the UAE seize this rising momentum to become the first climate negotiations to make tangible progress on transforming food systems towards sustainability, equitability, and resilience.

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Global expectations are changing around sustainability, especially with a new generation of climate conscious individuals entering the workforce

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will convene from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai. The conference provides a massive opportunity for the world to take meaningful strides towards climate action after something of a deadlock at COP27,

KEY ISSUES TO WATCH

and further, it also provides Dubai – and by extension the UAE – the opportunity to shine at the centre of the global stage as the world comes together to discuss the global issue of our time.

As prior mentioned, COP27 in Egypt hit something of a deadlock, with many commentators noting that the

conference failed to grow upon the COP26 aim to “phase down unabated coal power”. This was buttressed with a goal to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This means that fresh expectation will fall on then movers-and-shakers at COP28, with a strong industry desire to make meaningful change.

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Below are several key issues to watch out for in the run up to, and during, COP28:

1LOSS & DAMAGE FUND

’Loss and Damage’ was the name given to a policy that supports vulnerable, developing countries to manage their losses and damages due to climate change. It acknowledges that the people and countries least responsible for climate change are being affected first and most severely and henceforth provides a fiscal framework to aid these countries in rebuilding and mitigating the ongoing effects of climate change.

Obviously, the loss and damage agreement provided hope for many low-income countries that have felt the brunt of climate change, however, it also left a lot of questions unanswered. The main issues revolve around who is going to receive financial aid, by when and how much are the likely to receive. This is seconded by the chief concern in any major international package – who is going to pay for it. Many key players have kept their cards close to their chests yet COP28 is expected to provide a ‘big reveal’ in which meaningful ground can finally be made in securing answers to the aforementioned questions.

COP 27 also saw global governments agree the construction of a transitional committee that was crafted to offer insights on how to spend effectively and this group will share their insights in Dubai in November.

2EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS

In Sharm-el-Sheikh last year, the UN launched a plan to set up an ‘early warning’ system that functions worldwide. The early warning system is a digital tool that gives countries, governments and peoples prior warning of impending natural disasters caused by unpredictable climate changes. The technology has the potential to save thousands, if not millions, of lives.

As prior mentioned, however, the sticking point arises in the cost structures and those who fit the bill. The project is

estimated to cost a minimum of US$3.1 billion over five years to get it functional.

The project very much has the green light, however, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres already establishing an advisory board which will be co-chaired by the heads of World Meteorological Organization and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to monitor progress.

Yet the issue of who will and how to finance the project remains, meaning this will surely be a major issue at COP28. Rumours circulate that the money will likely come from funding allocated toward adaptation. Paola Albrito, Director of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), said that in 2023 the focus will be on three priorities: identifying the current gaps and assessing the capability needed to ensure everyone on Earth is covered by early warnings, moving ahead on an implementation plan, and scaling up and securing funding to roll out and accelerate implementation

3GLOBALSTOCKTAKE

‘Global Stocktake’ is the collective term for Paris Agreement which aims to offer a global audit of the worldwide situation. Beginning at COP26 in Glasgow, the global audit comes to its conclusion at COP 28. The process is now in its second phase, which is a technical assessment period that ends in June 2023. This phase consists of in-person dialogues focused on the stock-take’s three themes of mitigation, adaptation, and implementation & support. The key findings are to be presented in Dubai and will no doubt form a major part of the conference debate and discourse, which will ultimately be the third and final phase of the process. The next stocktake will begin in five years’ time, as global stocktake is a two-year process that happens every five years.

4FOODSYSTEMS

One of the agreements from COP27 was a new four-year plan on agriculture and food security. The new plan is the successor to

the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture established in 2017 and sought to expand the focus from agriculture to food systems. Unfortunately, this aim wasn’t truly realised and COP28 provides an opportunity to reawaken this aim and its importance.

Morgan Gillespy, the Executive Director of the Food and Land Use Coalition Program at the World Resources Institute, said that the coalition would “continue to push for a more progressive outcome at next year’s Global Stocktake and COP28,” while The Food and Agriculture Organization is also expected to release a road map to reduce emissions from food and agriculture systems in line with the goal of keeping temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius at COP 28.

The FAO’s Deputy Director Zitouni Ould-Dada told Reuters that the plan is much needed because the energy sector has clear road maps which attract investors “but for agriculture we don’t have such a map.”

5CLIMATE F INANCE

High-income countries have long been criticized for failure to meet their annual goal — set in 2009 at COP15 — to mobilize $100 billion for adaptation financing by 2020. Adaptation funding stood at just $83.3 billion in 2020.

A report by OECD found that 2023 will most likely be the year the $100 billion threshold is passed, and annual funding is projected to surpass the billion goal in 2024 and 2025. High-income economies are also under growing pressure to reform and capitalize international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, so they can invest more money in climate efforts.

Last year, a group of independent experts commissioned by the Group of 20 major economies released a report that argued that the multilateral lenders could take on more risk and lend hundreds of billions more without hurting the coveted AAA and AA credit ratings, which is a red line that shareholders want to preserve.

There has been some pushback on the amounts from credit analysts, however. The CAF report, as it is called, also ties into other debates about shifting the role of the World Bank into more so-called global public goods, such as climate change. This all creates a momentum in 2023 for evolution. In the lead-up to COP 27, World Bank President David Malpass told Devex that he has “embraced” the idea of reforms and that the bank is “working with the shareholders on a menu of approaches

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“ COP28 will make Dubai its home
The early warning system is a digital tool that gives countries, governments and peoples prior warning of impending natural disasters caused by unpredictable climate changes. The technology has the potential to save thousands, if not millions, of lives”

The Environmentally Sustainable Bitcoin:

Coming Soon Or A Bridge too Far?

Bitcoin is a product of the 2007-8 global financial crisis that was brought about by central banks and financial institutions making digital or “virtual” deals in money they did not actually own. Post-crisis trust in sovereign and central authorities was severely undermined giving rise to the need for a new class of financial assets free of government control.

One might call it a ‘democratic’ financial asset created ‘by the people for the people’ based on secure technologies rather than sovereign or institutional trust.

Humble beginnings had the market value of the first bitcoins mined in 2008 pegged close to US$0. However, the believers persevered, and the currency slowly gained strength. The first bitcoin commercial transaction occurred in May 2010 when Mr Laszlo Hanyecz from Florida bought a pizza paying 10,000 bitcoins. In today’s bitcoin dollar value that amounts to over US$240 million – that’s a lot of dough.

In the last 10 years, bitcoin has outperformed every other investment class by many orders of magnitude. Today, it is a global buzzword and the ‘go to’ destination for new investment dollars. However, what is not highlighted to investors, and the public at large, are the environmental consequences that widespread use of crypto currencies will bring.

BITCOIN AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Bitcoin is a digital currency, that means it is paperless, which in turn would imply that it’s good for the environment as less trees would be cut. However, this line of reasoning does not stand up to closer scrutiny. Like most cryptocurrencies in existence today, bitcoin is based on peerto-peer (P2P) networking and blockchain technologies. Bitcoins are produced by very specific types of computers that attempt to be the first to find a solution to a given complex mathematical problem. This computation process is called

‘mining’. Every successful computation or ‘block’ created by a miner, has to be validated by all computers on the bitcoin network every time. Once a block is validated it is immutable and can never be changed – ever. This fundamental feature makes blockchain’s security protocol unbreakable.

However, the intense computing competitions across the bitcoin network consume vast amounts of electricity with thousands of dedicated machines running 24x7 to execute bitcoin transactions and produce new bitcoins. Just how energy intensive are these machines?

Let’s find out.

It may be interesting at the outset to note that the huge amounts of computation and subsequent energy consumption involved in a blockchain are not a bug in the system but a key feature of its operation and security. There is no direct way to calculate how much energy is consumed by a given cryptocurrency

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network, but reasonable estimates can be arrived at using metrics like the number of calculations done per second and the energy consumption parameters of the machines doing the calculation.

At the time of writing, the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index gives us an estimated average annualised consumption of 97.3 TWh/year for the bitcoin network – and this is only for the bitcoin network. All the other networks producing all the other types of coins like Ethereum, Litecoin, etc. are not accounted for here.

Another bitcoin electricity consumption index published by the Digieconomist puts this figure for bitcoin at 131 TWh/year and equivalent to an annual emission of 73 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The above numbers are more than the annual energy consumption and greenhouse emissions of entire small countries like the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

BITCOIN VS CARD AND CASH

According to industry estimates, a single bitcoin takes about 1446 kWHs of electricity to produce. To put things in perspective, this is equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed by the average

US household over a period of 50 days.

By contrast the Ethereum cryptocurrency fairs a little better on the environmental front with each transaction consuming ‘only’ 188 kWHs per transaction. In both cases however, most of the electricity used is generated by highly polluting thermal plants.

On the other hand, the global banking industry consumed 200 TWhs to process 482.6 billion non-cash transactions in the year 2018. The average electricity footprint for processing these transactions was 0.4 kWh at most. Compared to cash bitcoin fares a much better but is still far behind in environmental terms. According to a 2021 Tufts University study, the environmental cost of every US dollar in circulation was US$0.007 whereas for “paperless” bitcoin the environmental cost stood over three times more at US$0.023.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Some have argued that renewable energy can be used for bitcoin mining operations. However, presently renewables pose a challenge as the energy from windmills and solar farms is not 24x7 while data mining operations are 24x7x365. Before the Chinese ban on cryptocurrency mining in May 2021 almost 40% of the world’s mining was done from the Sichuan province where hydroelectric power is available widely and cheaply. But even here a report by China Water Risk explained that hydroelectric power cannot be produced at the same rate all year round with power generation falling sharply in the dry months.

ELECTRONIC WASTE

The average working age of a crypto-mining machine is about 1.5 years. What is known as ‘Koomey’s Law’ in computer hardware suggests that the most cost-efficient mining machines can remain economically viable for no more than 18 months as new, faster more efficient machines are continuously being manufactured and the number of computations that can be completed per

kilowatt-hour of electricity as consistently doubled about every 1.5 years.

According to the Digiconomist, Bitcoin Energy Index data mining operations produce roughly 37,000 tonnes of electronic waste every year. As more and more miners get into producing bitcoins the number will only surge in the future.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The maximum number of bitcoins that can be mined is capped at 21 million by the algorithm. In the last 10 years and as of January 2022, 18.9 million bitcoins have already been issued, with about 2.1 million bitcoins still to be released. However, bitcoin mining is not about to end anytime soon. According to estimates at the current rate the last bitcoin won’t be minted before 2140. This is because the level of complexity and difficulty in producing a bitcoin has been increasing exponentially over time.

As an alternative to the current proofof-work method of validating and mining bitcoins the proof-of-stake method is an alternative cryptocurrency mining method that does not use computing power as extensively. In the proof-of-stake concept the authority to validate transactions and operate the crypto network is instead granted based on the amount of cryptocurrency that a validator has “staked” or agreed not to trade or sell. This mining method can bring down energy costs by over 99% if implemented right.

Other less popular methods of validation, proof of elapsed time, proof of burn, and proof of capacity are also in development. Ethereum developers have already made announcements that they will switching to the proof-of-stake method soon. The bitcoin network, however, has not made any such plans public as of today.

The chickens will soon be coming home to roost and all the excitement and buzz around bitcoin may come to a quick and messy end if cryptocurrency technologies don’t clean up their act to quickly become more scalable and sustainable in the near future.

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According to industry estimates, a single bitcoin takes about 1446 kWHs of electricity to produce. To put things in perspective, this is equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed by the average US household over a period of 50 days.

Sustainable Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges

Cultivated soil, that which allows us to produce pasta, rice, bread, and vegetables, is only a few decimeters deep, and amazingly, for every 2.5 centimeters of new soil to be generated, it takes around 500 years. The erosion rate of cultivated fields is 10-to-a-100 times higher than the rate of soil formation, and as such, it can take centuries for the degraded lands to be productive again. What’s more, almost a third of arable land on our planet has disappeared in the last 40 years. This data would already be enough to acknowledge the damages caused by intensive agriculture, which incidentally is the world’s largest industry, employing more than one billion people and generating over US$1.3 trillion of food annually. Not to mention that agriculture is directly responsible for up to 8.5% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with a further 14.5% resulting from land use variation, such as deforestation in developing countries and methane produced by livestock. Emissions are further increased by crops and processed derivatives which are airborne, shipped by sea or by road for thousands of kilometers before being sold (and not always consumed). In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration estimates that 30-40% of the food supply in the United States is thrown away, and food waste is the main category of goods that end up in landfills.

INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE

In a world moving towards sustainable practices, the intensive farming system appears to be highly unsustainable, the main reason being the massive use of fertiliz-

ers, which in the long run are proven to degrade the soil rather than nourish it.

Intensive agriculture, which aims to maximize the yield per square meter, minimizes the need for labour, and therefore the cost. The practice was developed between the end of the 1960s and and into the 1990s as a response to the exponential growth in the global population. Hencforth, the need to feed around 7 billion people together with sudden technological advancement and the dynamics of the capitalistic market further exacerbate the use of intensive practices.

Perhaps more alarmingly, in order to force nature’s rhythms, intensive agriculture extensively uses synthetic pesticides and chemicals that make the soil more fertile. Yet, in the long run, intensive agriculture has gradually led to more fragile soil, a loss of biodiversity due to large-scale monocultures, as well as water pollution and ammonia emissions in the air because of nitrogen fertilizers. Land drainage, desertification, and drainage of aquifers due to the massive use of water are other wellknown consequences of intensive agriculture.

Similar circumstances led to the gradual implementation of a new approach to producing and consuming food products, better known as ‘green agriculture’.

GREEN AGRICULTURE – CAN IT BE A GAME CHANGER?

Sustainable agriculture hinges on the utmost respect for natural resources and workers. It comprehends eco-friendly practices to enhance ecological models and

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In pursuing sustainable goals, emerging technologies and artificial intelligence can offer a fundamental contribution to an industry that has traditionally remained sheltered from innovation

socially responsible processes to ensure food security. In doing so, it ensues people’s health, human rights, and social equity of those who work in the sector. In this view, the term “sustainability” does not refer only to the environment but also to the social sphere.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) drew up the five cornerstones of sustainable agriculture, listed below:

1. The increase of productivity through a change in agricultural practices

2. The protection of natura resources

3. The improvement of livelihoods by fostering inclusive economic growth

4. The transformation of production models

5. The need to adapt the sector’s governance to the new challenges through a series of rules that make it possible to balance public and private, ensuring transparency and fairness

In pursuing these goals, emerging technologies and artificial intelligence can offer a fundamental contribution to an industry that has traditionally remained more sheltered from innovation, being one of the sectors most linked with a traditional, conservative model. Yet today, various sustainable agriculture solutions are being tested worldwide that are challenging key players in the industry to keep pace. An example is the organic farming model, which employs only natural substances and fertilizers and avoids the excessive exploitation of natural resources.

Another model is known as “biodynamic agriculture”, the basic principle of which is the care for terrestrial ecosystems via reference to cosmic laws such as the moon’s phases and the activation of life in the soil. The goal is to ensure that plants self-regulate and adapt as best as possible to external conditions. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used, instead being replaced by natural solutions that promote soil fertility.

Another new technique is “permaculture”, that is the set of agricultural practices oriented to the natural maintenance of soil fertility along with an integrated design system that intertwines themes of architecture, economy, ecology, and legal strategies for businesses and communities.

New sustainable approaches to green agriculture were at the core of COP26 held in Glasgow in November 2021. Discussions here focused on accelerating innovations in sustainable agriculture and resulted in the AIM4C agreement, which was led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates. This agreement addresses climate change and global hunger by uniting participants in a mission

to increase investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over a five years’ span (2021 – 2036).

POST-COP INVESTMENT

Other initiatives that emerged from COP26 include an investment of $575 million to Sub-Saharan Africa to improve sustainable agriculture, while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged US$315 million over the next three years to support the CGIAR’s climate-related work. Half of the Gates Foundation investment will go into supporting climate adaptation initiatives undertaken through

the new CGIAR portfolio, which aims to simplify partnerships, knowledge, and resources to accelerate innovation in the agricultural sector.

The current world population will grow to an estimated 9.7 billion people in 2050. While the world population is increasing, the amount of arable land per capita is rapidly diminishing. Each person currently has 0.21 hectares at their disposal, resulting in 0.15 hectares of essential food resources per capita in 2050. Such perspectives make green agriculture an essential necessity that must be implemented now.

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Ethereum developers have already made announcements that they will switching to the proof-of-stake method soon

Ways to Greenify your Business

Now that the world needs sustainable business solutions, going green isn’t just a vanity move for marketers, it’s a necessity. This feature explores how businesses can ‘greenify’ their operations to ensure the golden triumvirate of sustainable operations, conscious brand practices and economic growth. We will begin by analysing the reasons green business models have become the de facto model for a contemporary business.

THE BENEFITS OF GREEN BUSINESS: BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

In the past, businesses have had issues in attuning themselves to sustainable operations, often prioritising profits over green considerations. This worked for a long time, as many key players failed to realise the severity of the situation the world found itself in. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that the governments, NGOs,

investors, and corporations came together to create a more sustainable way of doing business, yet looking back now, these efforts seem minimal considering the changes that were actually required. Yet starting on the path of ‘going green’ revealed to many that businesses could secure not only ecological but also financial and managerial benefits. Some of these are listed below:

1Tax breaks and financial incentives

Governments around the globe are focused on creating a sustainable ecosystem that allows all businesses to grow

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without harming the environment. That is why governments incentivize green companies with tax breaks and financial benefits. For instance, in the U.S., businesses are incentivized at the state and federal levels and gain benefits such as:

a. Tax deductions for installing systems that reduce power usage

b. Tax credits of 10-30% for opting for alternative energy

c. Tax exemptions for using electric vehicles or fuel-efficient vehicles

d. Bonus deductions for recycling.

2Organic demand; organic products

As per the 2022 Forbes report, the need for green products has increased drastically in the post-millennium: 90% of the consumer population – especially those falling in Gen Z – are willing to pay more for sustainable products. The funny thing is that this demand was just 58% about two years ago. This tells us one thing: when the awareness about sustainability rises, so does the market – and so does the price.

3Better optics means better business:

Going green does wonders for brand image and reputation. It is no surprise that CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has become critical for any business to set itself apart from the rest, as well as more aligned with the environment. But it has reputational and trust benefits as well. Forbes found in a survey that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust a socially conscious business, with over 87% willing to buy a product with social and environmental benefits. Needless to say, if a company is going the sustainable way, the optics are improved.

4Less cost of raw materials:

The 3R initiative (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) ensures that a business spends less on procuring raw materials. Reducing waste is forcing firms to use the materials they possess creatively. Reusing has enabled companies to make decisions regarding the maintenance of existing products instead of buying new ones. Recycling has also helped businesses to look at waste as a resource. These factors combined translate into higher ROIs for businesses.

5Cheaper energy bills when renewables are used:

Power generation using renewable resources is 100% efficient. That is, the instances of power slippages are low. On the other hand, fossil power plants can achieve only 25% to 85% energy efficiency. Saudi Arabia, a country that in the past has focused on burning oils for energy, has now moved on with plans to develop clean energy and reduce emissions. Its latest product is NEOM Smart City. The presence of renewable energy won’t only help businesses grow sustainably, but the energy bills are also reduced.

But to take advantage of these financial benefits, you need to find the best ways to greenify your business – let’s discuss those.

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WAYS TO GREENIFY YOUR BUSINESS

To transform into a green business, one must understand the underlying processes. Being able to manage the different parts of the business while aligning them towards a common goal is how a business can become green. Thus, the green business system has four elements in place, and these are the four ways you can greenify your business.

PROCESS MANAGEMENT

It all begins by managing the underlying processes of a business. Rules must be formulated, and laws must be made to create standard operating procedure focusing on environmental stability. To achieve it, companies must focus on controlling the greenhouse effect, and then, the focus should be put on the management of:

1. Water supply and wastage

2. The landscape of the building to protect the biodiversity

The idea here is to create business goals aligned with sustainability and to start aligning them from the ground up, because if the foundation is strong, the entire structure will follow suit.

LEADERSHIP

The second factor that comes into play to greenify your business is leadership. Green business leadership is not about “my way or the high way”, but rather, it is about being an observant follower. It will open leadership to receiving great input and creative thinking within the firm. When a leader accepts that idea, he can move forward and give orders in an organized manner. A critical part of that, however, is having a great communication culture. The more a leader repeats, the easier it becomes for the employees to understand a vision.

Another factor that a leader must remember is that it is not only leaders who can lead. At times, critical responsibilities regarding business decisions need to be entrusted on colleagues for better productivity. But everyone has to work in tandem, and it is up to a leader to work with these elements to adapt to the changing environment.

STRATEGY MANAGEMENT

With strategy management, rules and regulations are formulated for an organization. These rules align with the organization’s goals and must be easily understood by all the employees. However, creating this strategy for a green business should not be in the hands of a single individual. Every decision must have the say of every individual within the organization. It fine-tunes the strategy better and makes it easy to follow, making it easy for the employees to align themselves with the organization’s goals.

A green business strategy should focus on lean operations. No effort should go to waste and everything should be streamlined. The strategy should entail policies that allow the business to react quickly to market changes. And during the implementation of that strategy, the organization should focus on the community, customer health, and the environment. It must also be willing to create new careers to accelerate its green goals.

SUPPLY CHAIN COLLABORATION

The final element to greenify a business is supply chain collaboration. It means systematically merging various resources so that each component can communicate with each other and the sum of these elements – the business organization – can manage all the available resources. At the heart of the green supply chain lies a systematic approach to managing environmental considerations that focuses completely on the ecological aspects of the supply chain. These include:

1. The supplier

2. The manufacturer

3. Product design

4. Logistics and delivery

With a green supply chain model that is rooted in collaboration, a business can plan and control the information, movements and logistics within an chain towards sustainable goals.

Conclusion

Greenifying a business is no longer just a vanity move, it is an economic, branding and green essential. As the world grows more environmentally conscious, a new breed of customers has arrived that desires green products and sustainability above all else. To cater to them, a business organization must align their beliefs with them, and thus, go green, creating a win-win situation for both themselves and the environment.

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4
ABILITY SUSTAIN

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri

UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed

Almheiri is the Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE. In this capacity, she leads the Ministry’s mission of spearheading the UAE’s drive to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, protect the country’s ecosystems and enhance its food and water security through developing and implementing effective measures, policies and initiatives.

Previously, Her Excellency was Minister of State for Food and Water Security, where her responsibilities included monitoring national food stocks and water supplies, channelling investments in food and water technology innovation and building international partnerships in this area. Prior to this, Her Excellency held the post of Minister of State for Food Security, where she oversaw the development of the necessary infrastructure to achieve the country’s food security objectives in line with the UAE Centennial 2071.

Her Excellency recently told SME how she and her Ministry were developing sustainable initiatives: “At the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), we believe in multilateralism as a powerful vehicle for creating the sustainable future we want our children to live in. To advance collective action, we are keen on building regional synergies to align our response

to climate change. We are also contributing to positioning the UAE as a premier convenor of regional climate action events, such as the first-ever MENA Climate Week, that aim to boost the momentum of climate action and support a new low-carbon development path in the region. Moreover, the role of youth is crucial in driving climate action and achieving sustainability. We collaborate with the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change (AYCCC) to empower young people from the region to become sustainability stewards and make sure their voices are heard by decision-makers.

“With two COPs in two years in the Middle East, climate action is at the top of our agenda, and we stand ready to join forces with all countries from this region to put us on track for a sustainable future.”

While the UAE has made great strides in this space in recent times, many challenges lie ahead. On this, Her Excellency added: “In tackling environmental challenges, the public’s level of awareness is our main challenge. Low awareness of environmental concerns and the lack of understanding of what each and every one of us needs to do to protect our fragile environment leads to

unsustainable behaviours that undermine our efforts.

Our success in creating a sustainable future largely depends on taking a whole-of-society approach. We all have an integral role to play, from responsible use of food, water, and energy, planting trees, to implementing the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle. These might all seem simple, trivial steps. But when taken collectively, they can bring about the powerful change we need to achieve our goal of building a better future for the current and next generations.”

With regard to how she and the Ministry are meeting these challenges, Her Excellency said: “At MOCCAE, we are keen to raise public awareness and make environmental sustainability everyone’s business. In this context, we roll out initiatives that educate the public on ways to contribute to environmental sustainability and drive meaningful public engagement, such as tree and coral planting drives, ecotourism campaigns, and beach and desert clean-ups.

“We also work closely with target sectors to step up their participation in the government’s environmental agenda, particularly the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative. We launched two initiatives that support this objective. The first is the National Dialogue for Climate Ambition, a monthly assembly dedicated to a different sector every month to help us design our net-zero pathway, outline ways to hit our targets, and create an enabling ecosystem for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The second is the Dynamics of Circularity Series that aims to share knowledge, build capacities, and explore opportunities to implement circular economy practices across carbon-intensive sectors.”

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Our success in creating a sustainable future largely depends on taking a whole-of-society approach. We all have an integral role to play, from responsible use of food, water, and energy, planting trees, to implementing the three R’s –reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

H.E. Eng. Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei

Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

With regards to sustainability, for the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, we have a holistic approach. The dynamics of the country’s development and the Ministry’s broad responsibilities made it inevitable to be innovative in designing a sustainable future. On the national level, the Ministry leads the sustainable development of the UAE, ensuring that the national targets for the energy, transport, and infrastructure sectors are integrated, aligned, and answering the socio-economic needs with the minimum environmental impact. We follow our leaders’ pace and ambitions by keeping the people’s well-being and happiness and the country’s prosperous economy at the heart of the future design.

The Ministry’s role is not limited to the national level, as we recognize the importance of sharing success to inspire neighboring countries. Even though UAE is in the top ten global oil producers, we have taken many serious steps to fight climate change and mitigate emissions. In 2021, UAE

announced its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, making the Emirates the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) nation to do so. Accordingly, UAE took the lead in developing a regional roadmap for the 22 Arab Countries targeting achieving a zero-emission, efficient, resilient buildings, and construction sector by 2050.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

We in the UAE are lucky to receive unlimited support from our leaders to keep up with the rapid global changes and build agile and sustainable structures. Today UAE ranks among the top ten countries in 432 global indicators, and here is where we have challenges. First, it is to keep progressing in our sustainable development agility and readiness for the future, and not only to keep our top-ranked positions but even improve them to make the UAE the best country in the world. The second one is to protect the country’s growth and development despite the various global issues and challenges.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We invest in our people. Our first and ultimate goal is to build a competent future generation. We empower all the society segments: Especially the youth who would lead the future and guard their country’s valuable legacy. Also women who play a vital role in achieving a sustainable tomorrow and the elderly who possess essential knowledge and experience that is transferred to the new generations. We also equip our people with the right tools that enable them to innovate and support the country’s economic growth and sustainable development. On the other hand, our country’s development and growth are grounded in a strong foundation allowing us to overcome the global challenges surrounding us and impacting even the strongest economies worldwide. For example, we had the vision to diversify the energy share mix, with a target to achieve 50% of clean energy, where 6% of the share is from nuclear power, and the rest is from renewable energy. Our energy strategy strengthens the country’s energy security and paves the way for a sustainable future.

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Sir Ronald Cohen

Co-Founder, Apax Partners

WHAT IS ONE THING WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT IN SUSTAINABILITY THAT WE SHOULD BE?

We need to be talking about the urgent need for impact accounting. The existence of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to cover the world aside from the US, the efforts of the SEC through its current consultation on environmental disclosure and the efforts of the EU to bring transparency to the impacts created by investors are milestones on the way to impact accounting transparency. The work of the Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative at Harvard Business School and the establishment of the International Foundation for Valuing Impacts (IFVI) will bring impacts into financial analysis and the valuation of businesses very soon. Embracing impact thinking and methodologies can address all of ESG’s deficiencies. We need to be talking solutions and not getting bogged down in talking about what’s wrong with ESG.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WE FACE IN GETTING THE WORLD UNIFIED ON A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

Some challenges affect the planet – like climate change – and others are more localized, such as ` droughts in regions of sub-Saharan Africa. The 17 SDGs we need to meet by 2030 set down an overwhelming goal and it is difficult for any country to work on meeting all SDGs simultaneously.  The international community needs to realize the importance of working at both the local and global level. This calls for the implementation of massive impact initiatives using pay-for-success flows of capital such as sustainability-linked bonds and loans, which reached US$1 trillion last year.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

I’ve been closely involved with IWAI, which I co-founded and chair. As chair of the GSG (Global Steering Group for Impact Investment), which comprises over 1,000 people in 35 countries, I am driving initiatives such as the US$1 billion Education Outcomes Fund, a Just Transition to Net Zero in South Africa, and bringing solutions to eradicate slums. The GSG is also advocating policies to create impact economies. This involves standardizing impact accounting methodologies and

advocating their adoption by the G7, the G20, and governments across the world. We are in the throes of a huge revolution to bring investors and businesses to deliver solutions to the great challenges we face.

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We are in the throes of a huge revolution to bring investors and businesses to deliver solutions to the great challenges we face.”

Radia Sedaoui

Chief, Energy Section, Sustainable Development Policies Division, UNESCWA (UN)

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

The essence of sustainable development is to leave more of our planet than we are taking. Future generations symbolize the intrinsic value of our planet as finite system, not just as source of infinite growth and resources This is my inspiration to support creating sustainable future.

Energy is an essential enabling factor for sustainable development, including poverty eradication, water and food security, advances in health and education, gender equity and female empowerment, decent work opportunities and sustainable economic growth, innovation, climate actions and the principle of “leaving no one behind”. Thus, creating a sustainble future as an energy expert is important for me personally, since I came from a region, the arab region, which is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of water scarcity, land degradation and desertification and high reliance on fossil Fuels both as a source of supply and consumption.

Since I came cross the Sustainable Energy For All initiative (SEforALL) launched by Mr. Bankimon in 2011, I decided to join the United Nations system to contribute to creating a sustainable future by leveraging on my expertise in the field of energy to promote dialogue and knowledge sharing and to foster interregional cooperation and partnerships. To that end, I stive to support Arab countries in mainstreaming sustainable energy in national development plans, identifying priorities and actions through an integrated approach for enabling the SDGs. Moreover, I am working on building the capacity of member states in formulating sustainable energy policies and addressing vulnerabilities, especially in diversifying the energy mix, improving the efficiency of it use, identifying new renewable energy uses, advising technologies that apply the principles of the circular economy, and integrating them in nationally determined contributions. I also conducted resource mobilisation and designed projects proposals to support the most vulnerable communities, among them implementing small scale renewable energy applications in rural areas with special focus on rural women and young people based on a business model of know-how rather than the usual business model based on handout.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE AT THE UN IN CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

There are several national, regional and global factors that pose challenges for me to accomplish my mission and thus achieve the expected results and more importantly to make the greatest impact especially for the most vulnerable countries and communities. Indeed, the ongoing global and regional conflicts and instability, coupled with fast changing governments and governing structures in my region create high levels of uncertainty that challenge my ability to support in devising long term-plans and strategies on a national and regional level, as well as in enhancing regional cooperation.

Other challenges I face, and which might well be the biggest challenge in the course of sustainable development is how to address the trade-off between the interests of current and future generations from the angle of energy and natural resources which are intimately linked to our current lifestyles and our patterns for the production and consumption.

Although working for the UN system presents an opportunity to support the “left behind” but it does not present adequate agility to operate in this very dynamic and fragile environment such as implementing energy projects in the field.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID? CHALLENGES?

I always work by adopting an agile approach for responding to the fluid and ever-changing landscape in the Arab region, not least to regional and global shocks. I rely on building trust with different stakeholders and leveraging on my personal network to support in implementing my work plan. To that end, I try to ensure continues communication with member countries and their related institutions including universities, research centres and independent experts to support efficiently member states in assessing progress made on SDG 7 and in other related goals, especially in Arab least developed and conflict-affected countries to identify regional priorities and actions. I remain also committed to studying priority areas within the energy transition to support the Arab region maximise on the use of local energy resources and establish safe and fair mechanisms for a just and inclusive energy transition by applying an integrated approach for which Energy is the Enabler to support accelerating progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development.

WHAT’S ONE THING WE’RE NOT SPEAKING ABOUT IN SUSTAINABILITY THAT WE SHOULD BE?

Personally, I think the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and its 17 SDGs already cover the full concept of sustainability including the integrated approach in achieving the SDGs. The agenda does have its limitation in terms of lack of interlinked indicators that could help to assess and enhance synergies and address trades-off in achieving the SDGs, but this was left to each country national context. I believe that sustainable development rests on a political process that includes, listens to, and responds to different interests, groups, and opinions, and gives them weight in political decisions. The transformation required in energy and other sectors, or the failure to act, will affect everyone on our planet, and it will do so in different ways. Thus, in my views we do speak about full concept of sustainability, but we are still not humble enough to accept that only by enhancing collaboration we can face any kind of crisis such as pandemics and the climate change crisis and enable the achievement of the SDGs for which all countries are lagging behind.

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WWF

World Wildlife Federation

WHAT IS ONE THING WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT IN SUSTAINABILITY THAT WE SHOULD BE?

We are facing a double crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change, which will take a ‘whole of society’ approach to tackle. This includes working together with, and leadership from Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who are a cornerstone of conservation, and are stewards of many of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Indigenous peoples and local communities manage at least 24% of the total above-ground carbon stored in the world’s tropical forests. By learning from and working with Indigenous experts, we can approach conservation in a way that respects the vital interconnections between people and place. Around the world, it is clear that many leaders have failed to control the human activities driving climate change and

habitat loss, while Indigenous lands and waters have largely been successfully taken care of over thousands of years.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WE FACE IN GETTING THE WORLD UNIFIED ON A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

For the most part, the world is unified in its ambitions for achieving a more sustainable future, but the challenge now is to ensure those ambitions are met by the necessary action at the speed and scale it is needed. We need to all acknowledge and act on the fact that the cost of action is lower than the cost of inaction. Action to fight the climate and nature crises is an investment not a cost.

For example, implementing nature-based solutions could save developing countries at least US$104 billion a year by 2030 and US$393 billion in 2050. Addressing climate

change could bring US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030 and create 65 million new low-carbon jobs. Solutions to halve emissions by 2030 are already available, but they need much more financial support to accelerate their impact.

The UN biodiversity conference COP15 that took place in Canada last December was a chance for countries to reset their broken relationship with the natural world. For this to happen, we need countries to come together to deliver an ambitious agreement that kickstarts immediate action to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for a nature-positive world. This requires countries to find common ground on key issues such as finance, recognizing that countries in the developing world that contain much of our remaining wildlife require financial and capacity support from richer countries. WWF is calling for a target of at least US$60 billion annually of international finance for biodiversity in developing countries, as part of a broader package of support, including domestic and private finance for biodiversity.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

WWF is an independent conservation organization active in nearly 100 countries. Our people are working to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife. Working with many others, from individuals and communities to business and government, WWF seeks to protect and restore natural habitats, stop the mass extinction of wildlife, and make the way we produce and consume sustainable. Through our work we highlight the disastrous consequences of climate and natural breakdown, but we also show how conservation and climate action can make a difference.

Along with many others, we are calling on world leaders to take action to reverse loss by 2030 to build a nature positive world - one that has more nature than 2020. We are also supporting global action on climate change and sustainable development, through three science-based targets. Our advocacy efforts include encouraging national leaders to demonstrate action on commitments such as the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, and working to help find common ground on issues such as finance.

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Majd Fayyad

DSM Strategy & Policy Lead, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy

HOW ARE YOU FACING THE CLIMATE CRISIS?

With the world hitting +1.1 degrees C in global warming, people on every continent have felt the impacts of climate change, with heatwaves and storms hitting many parts of the world. There is no doubt that climate change is the defining crisis of our generation, yet we are not powerless in the face of this threat. Dubai recognized the climate risks early on and developed a strong strategic framework alongside the implementation of a mechanism to help in combating this crisis.

In 2021, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, issued the DSCE Resolution No. 6 of 2021 on Dubai’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, aligning with UAE’s net zero target and global efforts in this regard. Recognizing the importance of energy efficiency in delivering carbon neutrality targets and reducing energy demand, Dubai has pioneered regional efforts by developing the first-of-its-kind strategy in the MENA region to focus on Demand Side Management. Dubai is committed to becoming a leader in the efficient management of electricity and water as well as fuel usage via collaboration with businesses and citizens.

In 2023, we celebrate 10 years of successful implementation of the Demand Side Management Strategy (DSM) which aims to reduce energy and water demand in Dubai by 30% by 2030. The strategy reinforces Dubai’s goal of becoming a leader and role model in energy and water efficiency by improving efficiency levels in the whole built environment. This includes buildings, infrastructure, equipment, and processes, as well as the adoption of efficient water resource management processes, and the increasing of the number of electric and hybrid vehicles in Dubai.

COULD YOU OUTLINE YOUR SPECIFIC STRATEGY?

Our strategy focuses on several key things, mainly; increasing energy and water efficiency in new buildings through building regulations and compliance (positioning Dubai to transition towards net zero energy buildings in the long-term), retrofitting existing building stocks and infrastructure with electricity & water efficiency and performance improvement measures. Next, we’re focusing on adopting an energy labeling scheme to classify buildings as efficient or inefficient. We’re also adopting high efficiency lighting in public spaces in Dubai, while promoting efficient cooling technology use in Dubai’s buildings.

Further, we are driving the adoption and compliance with minimum energy performance standards and labels for air conditioners, home appliances and industry equipment in Dubai, and promoting the use of building-level solar energy systems across. Another key step is in adjusting the tariff structure to be cost reflective, promote energy efficiency, and give the right signal to reduce consumption. Other measures include us promoting recycled and ground water management techniques based on network expansion, we also aim to encourage the uptake of efficient mobility and smart charging in Dubai, while promoting efficiency and demand abatement of transportation (fossil) fuels in Dubai. Finally, we’re adopting public green procurement across all local government entities, as well as promoting circular economy principles across public and private entities. We know these measures are working as by the end of 2021, DSM programmes had exceeded both electricity and water targets and saved 6.4 TWh of electricity and 12.2 billion imperial gallons of water. Compared to business-as-usual consumption,

which is the reference for the 30% by 2030 target, those savings represent 12.5% and 9.4% of the total baseline consumption for electricity and water, respectively.

HAVE YOU GOT ANY OTHER MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS TO SPEAK OF?

On the transport side, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy launched the Dubai Green Mobility Initiative to promote sustainable transport solutions in order to reduce road transport emissions within the Emirate and promote green transport policy. Government procurement of electric vehicles has been used as a policy measure to promote green mobility, and in terms of achievements, we are pleased to see more 23,000 hybrid and EV vehicles in Dubai as of September 2022.

We’ve also noted that, for the first time in Dubai, the number of electric vehicles has exceeded the hybrid ones. Moreover, the number of electric vehicles has more than doubled this year compared to last year. No doubt, we still have more work to do ahead, and we aim to advance energy efficiency measures to create an impact to meet our goal to be net zero by 2050. This has never been more important than now, especially when the need to balance our economic growth and sustain our environment for future generations is so paramount.

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For the first time in Dubai, the number of electric vehicles has exceeded the hybrid ones. Moreover, the number of electric vehicles has more than doubled this year when compared to last year ”

Mayssam Tamim

Deputy Resident Representative a.i./Assistant Resident Representative United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

HOW DO YOU SEE SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPING IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

I think that it’s pretty evident that sustainable practices in the Middle East are very much on the increase, which is a positive step forward, however, most of these advances are government led. It would be great to see private sector entities in the region making more strides in the right direction also as we still need to see more mass adoption of sustainable practices.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THE REGION IS FACING WITH REGARD TO SUSTAINABILITY?

There are myriad challenges at present in several key areas which I will break down one-by-one. Firstly, the long-applied measures of subsidies, while understandably crucial for the poor, are also hindering a much-needed implementation of consumption habits. Henceforth, striking a balance is a massive challenge and not one that is easy to get right.

The next key challenge is that business leaders have to be given a clear understanding and present awareness that sustainable practices do not affect economic development. This has been a fear all around the world and held us back from making meaningful change, so now is the time to show you can be sustainable and successful.

On this note, we also need several national awareness campaigns to highlight key issues and to ensure everyone plays their role. We also need education reform to ensure young minds are formed with sustainability as the new “normal” way of life. If we build sustainability into our way of life, it saves a great deal of danger down the road.

Other key areas include implementing clear regulations that promote sustainable practices (and putting a stop to those that are not sustainable), the integration of policy and programs between different ministries/authorities, clear guidelines and incentives/penalties for the private sector, supporting the implementation of women as leaders in their communities who could play a crucial role on promotion of sustainable practices, and finally, integrating ESG into businesses. A greater adherence to ESG is imperative if the Middle east is to grow and thrive.

WHAT IS ONE THING THE SUSTAINABILITY SECTOR IS NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT IT REALLY SHOULD BE?

Well, I think there are two key things actually. The main one would be the importance of inclusion in modern business

and work, especially with regard to vulnerable communities and migrants. The second area would be that Sustainable practices need to be measured; however, measurements are not at good enough standard yet to allow us to differentiate between green washing and actual impact. However, this is not just an issue in the Middle East, it is Global. Nonetheless, it is a vital dimension that needs to be put right if we’re to make meaningful changes.

36 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainable practices need to be measured; however, measurements are not at good enough standard yet to allow us to differentiate between green washing and actual impact. However, this is not just an issue in the Middle East, it is Global. Nonetheless, it is a vital dimension that needs to be put right if we’re to make meaningful changes.”
Mayssam Tamim,

His Excellency Yasir O. Al-Rumayyan

Chairman of the Board of Directors, Saudi Aramco

AS A MAJOR PLAYER IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND IN GLOBAL ENERGY, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO DRIVE SUSTAINABLE CHANGE?

Aramco occupies a unique position in the global energy industry given that we’re the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, and we have the lowest upstream carbon intensity of any major producer. We are proudly Saudi and committed to developing the Kingdom’s vast economic and human potential, but our outlook and ambitions are global. We combine disciplined day-to-day performance with a generations-spanning view of the future, born of our role as careful stewards of the Kingdom’s immense energy resources. This unique position means we have a unique responsibility: to the communities in which we operate, the customers who rely on us, and the shareholders we serve.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of long-term thinking. Now, more than ever, people want companies like ours to plan ahead, to be transparent about risk, and to have the courage and foresight to tackle emerging problems long before they become existential crises. That, for us, is the meaning of sustainability. It’s the steps we are taking today, across our business, to ensure that Aramco can thrive and create value for all of our stakeholders long into the future.

Our first sustainability report lays out the actions we are taking and the standards against which our performance may be judged. A significant part of this work concerns climate change because this is the biggest long-term challenge that Aramco, or indeed any business, faces.

So, let me state the Company’s position unequivocally on this issue: Climate change is a serious risk to humanity’s future and restoring the world to a better carbon balance requires us to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with both oil and gas production and use. We are already an industry leader in minimizing emissions at the point of production. To strengthen that position we have set our ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions across our wholly owned

operated assets by 2050. But we recognize that as long as demand for oil and gas exists, emissions also have to be tackled at the point of combustion too. We cannot do this alone — no one company can — but we are committed to working towards a lower-emissions future with our customers and partners around the world.

IT’S GREAT TO HEAR A COMPANY OF YOUR SIZE HAS THESE AMBITIONS, BUT HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FURTHER SUSTAINABLE CHANGE IN PRACTICAL

TERMS?

Technology will be vital to this endeavour and our global research network is moving at the speed of science to drive progress everything from cleaner fuels to low-carbon hydrogen to carbon capture, utilization and storage. We are clear that we intend to be a leading player in these new markets and transition technologies.

We also plan to use more of our primary product to make the petrochemicals that are the building blocks of modern life. Advanced plastics for instance, are created from carbon molecules, yet can serve as a lower-carbon alternative to traditional materials like steel and glass. They also happen to be crucial elements in the fabrication of renewable energy infrastructure.

This circular carbon economy approach, championed by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the G20, is part of a broader shift away from a linear economy based on “make, take, and throw away” to an economy designed around reducing waste and reusing and recycling finite materials. In the case of carbon, we can add a fourth ‘R’: removing it from the cycle altogether through carbon capture and storage.

Sustainability is not only about climate and the environment, however. Our responsibilities also encompass the communities in which we operate, the markets we supply, the many thousands of contractors who form our global supply chain, and of course our 68,000 employees: the men and women who work day-in, day-out to keep the world supplied with affordable, reliable energy.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of long-term thinking. Now, more than ever, people want companies like ours to plan ahead, to be transparent about risk, and to have the courage and foresight to tackle emerging problems long before they become existential crises.”

Elon Musk

As a world-renowned figure, Elon Musk has become something of an icon representing the finest of innovation in our era. Clearly inspired by an iconic figure of the prior century given he named his electric car brand ‘Tesla’ (after the electrical engineering genius Nicola Tesla) he represents a tradition of disruption and creativity that has the power to launch our civilisation forward.

In fact, Tesla has become so successful, it’s now in the process of supplanting German auto-giant BMW, a quite unbelievable feat given BMW is well over one hundred years old with an excellent global reputation. Telsa was launched almost 100 years after BMW, yet its growth has been rooted in two key trends that allow it to speak to modern demands. Firstly, Tesla’s all-electric fleet speaks to the desire of modern consumers to be green and sustainable.

Musk recently said:

“It’s now clear that people want electric cars. They want sustainable transport. They want clean energy. This really tends to be somewhat of an age-related attitude: The younger somebody is, the more they care about the environment. And so, as time goes by, they grow older, and then they become the decision-makers. That’s the normal way of the world.”

Yet Musk has created such success because of the second key trend – style. Where many sustainable innovations have struggled, Tesla has succeeded as Musk has made Tesla vehicles green and clean, but also trendy, practical and of high performance.

There’s a lesson in here for anyone involved in sustainability –that modern consumers want to go green, but they also want to abide along with a certain quality of life, they want a brand which speaks to their values and aspirations, which Tesla has masterfully done.

Musk’s approach is also inherently refreshing as he doesn’t so much see his competitors as competition (ironically) but players in the same field that can be utilised in the pursuit of a common goal.

He recently stated: “Our approach is probably going to be to execute independently. But we can either manufacture or license some of our technology to companies like BMW.

“We’re trying to be as pure as possible here with respect to our goal, which is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.

“So, it’s not about creating competitive walled gardens or anything like that. We’re going to be making our Supercharger network available to other companies; we’re going to offer licensing of Autopilot.

“They want to use our autonomy. And we can potentially do something with battery cells. And, you know, we’re willing to license technology to help other companies do the right thing.”

As a global business (and cultural) figure, Musk has made such waves because he genuinely believes in building a sustainable future. We’ve all heard our fair share of corporate cliches regarding sustainability, yet when Musk speaks about his operations, there’s

an authenticity that rings true:

“We actually publish a sort of sustainability report. We insist, for all of our suppliers, that the materials are ethically sourced. And this is verified with the party organisations. So, I’m highly confident that no child labour is being used for any of our mining operations. If there is, and somebody can point that out, we will take immediate action. Besides that, cobalt is a very important economic resource for the Congo. People are really counting on this money.”

This is seconded by the fact that Musk has also recently sold his ‘main home’ and got rid of many of his possessions as they, in his words, ‘weigh you down’. Again, this shows an attitude of a man committed to general wellbeing over wealth and status.

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It’s now clear that people want electric cars. They want sustainable transport. They want clean energy.”
CEO, TESLA

Hatem Dowidar

Group CEO, e&

HOW DO YOU VIEW SUSTAINABILITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

When e& (formerly Etisalat Group) began a new chapter as a global technology and investment conglomerate earlier this year, expanding its remit beyond telecommunications, it committed to environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles, while realigning its business operations to support its growth aspirations. After all, delivering an enhanced customer experience and maximising shareholder value creation can only be achieved if an organisation is guided by clear sustainability principles, to fuel a future-ready business model in an ever-changing business landscape.

Value-based sustainability leads to long-term value creation for stakeholders, protecting and creating value for businesses, people, society and the world at large. In this pursuit, we at e& have already made great strides in ensuring that our sustainability plans and ambitions are in line with the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals(UN SDGs), as well as the GSMA’s initiative to move the entire mobile sector to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. When we embarked on the exciting journey of e&, firmly rooted in our rich telecoms heritage, we were determined to meet the needs of diverse customer segments in the markets where we operate, while being a key player in exploring clean and green technology solutions. Keeping sustainability and the ESG agenda at the heart of our business model has enabled us to achieve significant milestones in the implementation of our sustainability strategy. We remain committed to supporting the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative as well as the national Net Zero pathway that the country unveiled at the 27th Conference of

the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27). Through strategic partnerships focused on sustainability, the 2022 efforts set e&’s journey to becoming the driving force that inspires other corporates and organisations to play a significant role in supporting the UAE’s commitment to net zero by 2050. e& has already played a key role in digitally empowering societies through smart connectivity at Expo 2020 Dubai, where it was the first official telecommunications and digital services partner. This mega-project demonstrated what is possible when enhanced digital experiences are delivered to customers through interactive activities, while teams focus on their contribution to a sustainable digital infrastructure.

The importance of addressing critical climate change challenges has become a priority for countries to enable a low-carbon society, while organisations are stepping up efforts to tackle related pressing issues such as environmental conservation and the provision of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly products and services.

WHAT ARE YOUR AIMS FOR THE NEAR FUTURE TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

At COP27, e& committed to achieving a net zero operation by 2030 to accelerate its climate action efforts and support the UAE’s net zero strategy, and to reduce carbon emissions from its operations and accelerate its efforts to contribute to global climate action. Ambitious key initiatives aim to reduce e&’s carbon footprint, including Scope 1 and 2 emissions across the group’s UAE operations and Scope 3 by 2040-2050, by improving energy efficiency and sourcing renewable energy, which will have a positive human impact on plans and operations.

e&’s climate action programme is aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the UN Global Compact and the World Resources Institute, to set an emissions reduction trajectory between 2020 and 2030 for all Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sub-sectors.

e& recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA), a non-partisan climate action entity that functions as a think tank, providing evidence-based policy recommendations on climate action to both the public and

private sector. The move, which marks e& as the first UAE private sector entity to join, supports the transition to a greener economy, joining UICCA in its mission to enable and energise an ecosystem of public and private entities that have shared values and a joint vision of building a sustainable future.

e&’s partnerships in different sectors, in line with its ESG business model, ensure that initiatives are explored together to build more efficient and sustainable networks in the future by reducing energy consumption, partnering with other technology companies to share expertise and products to develop energy efficiency strategies to support a Net Zero strategy while exploring opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption. As part of the partnerships and collaborations, the importance of knowledge sharing sessions, from energy efficiency strategies to decarbonising the e& network infrastructure business, is highlighted.

HOW CAN YOU BRING THIS VISION TO REALITY?

We believe that technology and connectivity are at the heart of a future that is good for the planet, creates a better life for all and brings cohesion and trust to societies. Our vision is to lead the digital transformation and connectivity for a sustainable and inclusive future for all. We will do what it takes to stay committed to the country’s path to 2050 in our role as catalysts for change to inspire and motivate other companies and organisations to drive the necessary change.

In the spirit of strengthening mutually beneficial partnerships, in line with its approach to operate responsibly and transparently, and driven by its relentless commitment to delivering innovation solutions, e& will continue to spearhead digital transformation and connectivity for a sustainable and inclusive future.

We will always remain focused on bringing dynamic new technologies to life by implementing ingenious innovations that I am sure will forge us towards our vision of digitally empowering societies. We can achieve this through our employees who continue to make a difference in our ESG journey as they remain committed to our organisation’s sustainability principles to protect the future of the planet and preserve natural ecosystems for generations to come.

39 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY

Abdulnasser Bin Kalban

Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Global Aluminium

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Aluminium plays an essential role in decarbonisation economy-wide, as part of everything from solar panels to electric vehicles to mass transit systems. EGA produces one-in-every 25 tonnes of aluminium made worldwide, and our metal is a UAE contribution to the global drive to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It also matters how sustainably aluminium is made. At EGA, we believe the environmental, social and governance aspects of sustainability are all important. We fully recognise the essential challenge of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions and are playing our part in achieving the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative. We are embedding sustainability in everything we do and aim to be a sustainability leader for our global industry, including taking bold steps towards decarbonisation.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Aluminium demand is expected to increase by between 50 and 80% by 2050, because it plays such a key role in decarbonising other industries. But decarbonising aluminium production itself requires cooperation with other industries and re-thinking the way aluminium has been made since the dawn of our industry in the 19th century.

Aluminium production is energy-intensive, and generating the electricity required accounts for around 60% of the global aluminium industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. The electrolytic smelting process also creates greenhouse gas emissions and solving this requires technology development to eliminate these emissions or capture them.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We have been focused on reducing our energy demand per tonne of aluminium produced for decades, to save both cost and emissions. We have developed our own aluminium smelting technology for more than 25 years. This technology development and earlier work since 1980, has reduced the amount of electricity required per tonne of aluminium produced by over 37%.

We are now taking bolder steps towards decarbonization as the UAE’s energy transition creates opportunity for us to decarbonise our electricity supply. In 2021, we became the first company in the world to make aluminium commercially using the power of the sun through a partnership with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. We call this metal CelestiAL, and it accounts for a proportion of our production today. This is just the beginning.

We have already announced a strategic initiative with TAQA, Dubal Holding and EWEC to divest our natural gas-fired power plants, and instead source electricity from the grid. Adding our engines to the grid offers significant efficiencies for the grid as a whole. But even more than that, EGA would become the largest single customer on the grid. Our steady demand would improve the predictability of total power demand. This would unlock the potential for others to develop more solar power – in fact, more than the total installed solar power capacity in the UAE today.

We are also working to address the other sources of greenhouse gas emissions in our operations. We have joined the Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure’s Hydrogen Leadership Initiative, to progress the development of hydrogen in the UAE. Hydrogen could be used to decarbonise our thermal power needs. And we are exploring how to decarbonise the smelting process itself.

40 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
We are now taking bolder steps towards decarbonization as the UAE’s energy transition creates opportunity for us to decarbonise our electricity supply. In 2021, we became the first company in the world to make aluminium commercially using the power of the sun through a partnership with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. We call this metal CelestiAL, and it accounts for a proportion of our production today. This is just the beginning.”

Sherif Tawfik

Chief Sustainability Officer, Middle East & Africa, Microsoft

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Microsoft has been working to become more sustainable for more than a decade. We’ve committed to being carbon negative by 2030 and removing all the carbon we have emitted into the environment since our founding by 2050. We’ve also committed to being water positive by 2030, to having zero waste by 2030, and to protecting ecosystems by developing a Planetary Computer. We’re taking our experiences from the last ten years and using them to help our customers and partners achieve their own goals and address key sustainability challenges. We think about the different roles that we play as a customer, supplier, investor, employer, policy advocate, and partner in innovation to customers, organisations, and institutions around the world.

The MENA region is especially vulnerable to climate change. It is one of the world’s most water-scarce and dry regions; with a high dependency on climate-sensitive agriculture and a large share of its population and economic activity in flood-prone urban coastal zones. In turn, due to the substantial risk that the region faces, we are taking a proactive approach to incorporate sustainability in every dialogue we have with our wider range of customers, partners and suppliers. Although nations’ commitment will ultimately determine effective adaptation to climate change, Microsoft wants to have a crucial role in mainstreaming sustainability measures in MEA’s journey towards a net zero economy.

Ultimately, a sustainable future relies on the intersection between technology and science, this is so we can better understand what’s happening and respond with tools to better manage our environmental resources, mitigate risk, and transform our organisations. For this reason, we are working towards embedding sustainability in industries and governments through their organization and value chain with integrated multi-industry solutions available through our Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability platform and partner ecosystem.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Scope 3 emissions, or the indirect value chain emissions, pose the greatest challenge to Microsoft today. To truly make progress towards our own sustainability commitments, organisations that contribute towards our scope 3 emissions must

figure out how to recognize their complete environmental footprint—across their entire enterprise and value chain—including Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions. The problem is that most organisations don’t currently have access to the data they need to do this. Without data, they can’t know the full extent of their carbon footprint, and they won’t know how to fix it. It’s fundamentally important that we come together to solve the data problem at the root of Scope 3 emissions measurement.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

Our experience has taught us that we must prioritize organizational and digital transformation to see long-lasting change. Sustainability has become an integral part of Microsoft’s operations rather than just something we do. Better data organization and re-alignment of our company’s vision and strategy with our sustainability objectives served as the foundation for our initial effort. However, we also learned that the road to net zero is not linear, and until we fulfill our promise to become carbon negative by 2030, we must continuously enhance our efforts to decouple our emissions from our growth.

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It’s not about when we will die, it’s about how we will live. Sustainability is about the journey and not the destination.”

Saad Toma

General Manager, IBM Middle East and Africa

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

IBM is a leader in sustainability efforts, working with business and society to make a lasting positive impact on the environment. As a trusted brand, IBM has a track record of setting precedents with environmental and social commitments for over 50 years. For example, we are committed to achieving Net Zero GHG Emissions by 2030 and we promote environmental justice programs like the IBM Sustainability Accelerator, enabling organisations and communities to tackle environmental issues. We also recently partnered SDAIA and Ministry of Energy in Saudi Arabia, leveraging AI technology to detect, map and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, we have a range of solutions and technology innovations. IBM has the most comprehensive technology portfolio and consulting expertise to design, deploy and manage sustainability solutions across ecosystems that align to overall sustainability goals with greater value. We launched IBM LinuxONE – a server that can reduce energy consumption by 75%, space by 50%, and the CO2e footprint by over 850 metric tons annually.

With regard to advocacy and partnerships, IBM is committed to partnerships that help drive lasting and impactful results. For example, IBM is a founding member of advocacy organisations such as the Climate Leadership Council (supporting its bipartisan plan for a carbon tax with carbon dividends) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. We were named technology partner for COP27, the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference which was held in Egypt.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

As per the recent IBM Institute for Business Value

expertise or not knowing where to start. Their challenge is to make sustainability a true business driver while delivering ROI.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES?

IBM helps customers align sustainability goals to business objectives while complying with increasing regulatory demands. We operationalize sustainability end-to-end with data-driven innovation through a comprehensive and growing portfolio of industry leading consulting and technology capabilities. With an ecosystem of partners, we co-create solutions to uncover new opportunities while finding cost efficiencies, without trade-offs or compromising profitability. Our practical approach integrates and automates quality ESG data into daily workflows with speed and scale –across physical, digital, and supply chain domains – delivering true insights in a verifiable and auditable way.

Few companies have the breadth and depth of capabilities plus industry-leading research to help customers set, operationalize, and achieve their ESG targets. At IBM, we believe that technology is a critical enabler to meet ESG targets both internally and externally. We put our belief into action through goals and commitments, client solutions and research, and advocacy and coalitions. We have consistently set precedents with environmental commitments for more than 50 years and continue to lead the charge.

your Impact CEO Study’: Four out of five CEOs expect sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investments to improve business results in the next five years, yet only 23% of CEOs say they are fully implementing sustainability strategies across their organisations today. Regulatory, consumer and boardroom pressures are only increasing, and companies must demonstrate meaningful and timely progress against their public commitments. Many companies know the time to act is now, but progress is hindered by a lack of

‘Own

42 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Let’s turn sustainability ambition into action. IBM helps customers turn sustainability ambition into action through data-driven innovation with industry leading technology and consulting capabilities.”
Sustainable clothing made from recycled plastic bottles Uniforms Private Label Custom design & development DGRADE.COM For more information: E: info@dgrade.com T: +971 (0)4 878 6196

NEOM

Saudi Arabia

In the fast-moving and innovative world of sustainability, there are few, if any, projects that can compete with Saudi Arabia’s futuristic sustainable city of NEOM. For the uninitiated, NEOM, is a planned city being built in the Tabuk Province of north-western Saudi Arabia. It is planned to incorporate smart city technologies and function as a tourist destination while being totally sustainable.

The site is planned to cover a total area of 26,500 km2 (10,200 sq mi), extending 170 kilometres along the coast of the Red Sea, and with an estimated cost of US$500 billion, it is one of the most ambitious projects of modern times. NEOM’s founder, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, wants NEOM to be an “agent of progress and change”. Yet before we get into the specifics of the project, it’s worth addressing one of the most commonly asked questions – why is it called ‘NEOM’?

The answer to this is as follows, HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed and deliberated with members of the project’s Founding Board – in addition to experts and specialists in the field – about an appropriate name for such a project with a global outlook. When the Board conducted its first meetings to address related topics, among the agenda items was the search for a name that represents the identity and symbolism of this dream project, as HRH saw that the name expresses the cultural and civilizational dimension of the universality of the project.

According to NEOM: “A series of discussions were circulated about the significance of the name and how it should reflect the project’s global identity, human dimension and remarkable ambition. The actual name designation journey began by defining criteria, qualities and conditions, all of which bear a clear and firm vision for selection; then, sorting and testing the lists of names proposed by the consulting team.

“During the Founding Board discussions, some members considered giving the project the name of HRH, the President of the Founding Board, either directly or by incorporating

his name within the project name. As such, two names were suggested: “NEOVIA MBS” and “NMBS,” but the opinions of the members were split. The team that was not in favour clarified that HRH, the Chairman of the Board, leads major national projects, and HRH being Chairman of NEOM Board of Directors is sufficient to deliver a message to the world that reflects the direct connection of HRH to the project. They did, however, support HRH’s principal idea that the name should be neither Eastern nor Western, and also not belonging to a specific language or culture, in addition to being neutral and rather open to the entire world.

“What followed was choosing the initials of those sectors and merging them to obtain a distinctive name that preserves the identity of the project, and this resulted in the name ‘NEO MSTACBEL’ whose initials MSTACBEL symbolize the main project sectors, such as Media, Sport, Technology and Energy. Then the word was abbreviated and symbolized by the letter M, meaning “Mim” in Arabic as a symbol for two words: It is the first letter of the Arabic word for future (mustaqbal) and also the first letter of the name of HRH Prince “Mohammed” bin Salman.

“Next the letter “M” was merged with the word NEO from the Greek language, which means new, to form the name that constitutes the beacon of change in the world. The name “NEOM” was henceforth formed and agreed upon unanimously by the Board. Thus, the name NEOM was formed with the approval and endorsement of the Founding Board as the official name of the project; a true reflection of NEOM’s vision and the reality that will be achieved to contribute to building a promising future for future generations. From

that moment on, the lights of NEOM have pierced the sky, heralding a luminous dawn, a promising future, and a rich life in a land built by man for the sake of all humanity.”

A GIFT FOR THE REGION & THE WORLD

NEOM is evidential of our changing attitudes towards sustainable living, but also to the changing role Saudi Arabia is playing in the world today. For many decades, Saudi Arabia has been associated with oil production, yet that is beginning to change as Saudi Arabia has become a leader in sporting occasions, culture, politics and of course, sustainability.

NEOM emphasises this with an international team of architects, urban planners and sustainability experts from around the world. This isn’t a coincidence, as NEOM represents a place where people can come from all corners of the world to experience harmonious lifestyles of the future.

NEOM itself is made up of three key areas: Oxagon, Trojena, and The Line Sectors, with a focus on each of the following areas: health, well-being, biotech, technology and digital, energy, financial services, mobility, sport, design and construction, education, entertainment and culture, food, manufacturing, media, tourism, and water.

With regard to energy, NEOM is developing 100% clean energy at scale for NEOM, with a view to extend this ultimately to the entire planet. Via unrivalled wind and solar resources, and through the world’s largest hydrogen plant, NEOM is aiming to incubate and accelerate renewable solutions. The goal is to move beyond zero carbon to a circular economy, using future thinking to drive the level.

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26,500
The total planned area of the NEOM site
km2

Maha Alnuhait

Sustainability General Manager, stc (Saudi Telecommunications Company)

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

We consider ourselves more than just a telecom company, we seek to pioneer and champion digitization, always focusing on the innovation and evolution of digital solutions for a smart and sustainable future.

We focus our efforts on ensuring we leave the world better than we found it by creating a positive environmental impact, providing connectivity and accessibility to those who need it, becoming more representative to a diverse society we live in, as well as enhancing the long-term value through strong governance.

Our aim is to be at the forefront and take the lead in the broader digital transformation sphere, both nationally and regionally, and to use this as an opportunity to promote sustainability, innovation, and empowerment of people across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are committed to supporting the national, regional and global goals in alignment with Vision 2030 and the SDGs, as well as aiming to ensure our business practices are in line with these goals to promote positive advances and avoid detrimental impacts on society and the environment.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Climate change is one of the most serious challenges that humankind has ever faced. The evidence of climate change is unequivocal; and with recent events, we can all feel the effect of climate change from heat waves, flooding, heavy storms; and it only underscores the need for faster and stronger action.

Technologies today are evolving at a speed that we have never seen before. Simultaneously, the difficulty for some people or companies within the community to keep pace with this change is increasing every year. Poor access to technology and communication are key accelerators to the digital divide. Upskilling technical “know-how” and digital empowerment of the local community are critical to bridging the gap.

Businesses around the world, including ICT companies, need to rethink their production processes in order to shift towards more sustainable patterns of operation. We all have an active role to play in managing energy consumption and combating climate change by promoting the use of digital solutions in our own activities and within our customer activities.

Secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for business operations as well as for employees and customers. The ICT industry was not only involved in social and environmental challenges, but it also was a key player in propagating them, so the challenge moving forward is to be better prepared for any future crisis as we move forwards to a safer and more hopeful world.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We consider the transition to sustainability as an opportunity to conduct business without compromising the needs of future generations. We use this opportunity to do things differently, promote change and bring innovation to people’s lives, our business, and the society at large. Our work includes managing risks, challenges and opportunities resulting from the rapid growth in the ICT sector.

We seek to be a stewardship for the environment by minimizing our own direct environmental impacts as well as the impact associated with the use of our products and services. Our aim is to achieve net zero carbon emissions. In line with other leading companies worldwide, we have aligned our business with the Paris agreement to reach net zero carbon emissions by no later than 2050. We are committed to adopting science-based targets and we aim to publish our carbon reduction targets by 2023. stc initiated its renewable energy pilot project to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 191,000 tons with an expected annual clean energy production of 15.236 GWh.

To bridge the digital divide, stc invests heavily in infrastructure development to

provide universal and affordable access to information and communication to people in all geographical areas in the countries we operate in. We have also launched several programs and initiatives to digitally empower the local community. Through our sustainability platform, we provide the technical enablement program through which we offer non-profit organisations cloud-based digital solutions for free to increase their reach while at the same time cut costs and improve efficiencies. We also focus on groups that are at risk to be marginalized, such as the elderly, children, low-income households, those in remote areas and so forth.

At present, we’re working on launching the digital truck initiative to reach remote areas and fill the gap between the elderly population and fast-developing digital technologies. The first phase of this three-year initiative will focus on spreading awareness about the use of Internet through mobile phones, protection against cyber-crime fraud, and helping the elderly adapt to digital devices and social media.

The pandemic highlighted areas where digital services could help with the response by improving the provision of care through hospitals and health facilities. Our smart alert and reporting service enabled effective communication during the pandemic, saving time and increasing effectiveness in the delivery of care. Our clinical services such as virtual clinic solutions connected physicians and patients regardless of distance.

Following the unique challenges of COVID-19 pandemic, and in line with Vision 2030 to digitize the infrastructure of the health care sector, stc continued to focus on e-health solutions that facilitate and automate the work of our health care heroes. The services range from smart alert and reporting services, virtual clinic solutions to facilitate communication between patients and doctors, to an EMI service to manage, store, and display medical images easily and remotely.

45 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Our aim is to be at the forefront and take the lead in the broader digital transformation sphere, both nationally and regionally, and to use this as an opportunity to promote sustainability, innovation, and empowerment of people across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Khalil Yassine

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

We’re a company of brands and people with a clear purpose: to make sustainable living commonplace. We believe that business growth should not be at the expense of people and the planet. That’s why we’re changing the way we do business, and why we want to change the way business is done.

The problems our society faces such as climate change, inequality, plastic pollution, lack of sanitation and so forth are urgent, large, and complex. Change in our own business is not enough. We need transformational change to whole systems if we are to make a genuine difference on the issues that matter.

To achieve this, we launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) in 2010 – a bold ambition to change the way we do business and changing the way business is done. It set out three big goals to transform our social, environmental, and economic performance across the value chain.

Building on the last 10 years of the USLP, in 2020 we introduced the Unilever Compass – our strategy to deliver growth that is consistent, competitive, profitable, and responsible – via our purpose-led, future-fit business model. We have driven sustainability via our operations by embedding sustainability further into every part of our business; via our brands that drive purpose and encourage behavior change; through our people; and by actively engaging with all stakeholders bringing others along with us.

Regarding operations, our focus in on Improving the eco-efficiency of our manufacturing sites and offices has helped us cut their environmental impact, reduce running costs, and enhance overall site performance.

Regarding our brands such as Lifebuoy soap and Signal toothpaste, we have been driving behaviour change programmes in schools since 2012. Here, we teach children why handwashing is vital, and we have partnered with schools to spread good hand

hygiene messages and provide the necessary resources to make sure little hands are staying clean throughout the day. Around the world we have managed to teach life-saving lessons about hygiene to over 1 billion people, and in the Gulf, more than 5 million.

Regarding people, we are an equal opportunities employer, as we believe a diverse and inclusive business makes us, and society, stronger. Our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) efforts therefore to ensure gender balance within our teams has resulted in nothing short of a corporate revolution, witnessing an increase from 21.8% (2014) to 37% in 2022 of women in UAE offices. Additionally, we use the power of our advertising to challenge how gender is viewed, and in 2020 Unilever, along with UN Women, launched the UAE ‘Chapter of the Un-stereotype Alliance’ – the 6th globally and the first outpost in the MENA region.

The Unstereotype Alliance is a thought and action platform that seeks to eradicate harmful gender-based stereotypes in all media and advertising content. Convened by UN Women, the alliance works towards empowering women in all their diversity while addressing harmful stereotypes.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

We see climate change as perhaps the biggest challenge in our aim to make sustainable living commonplace. Additionally, our commitment to sustainability extends across our value chain – from sourcing of raw materials until end consumer use and disposal. While we can manage the footprint of our own operations easily and seamlessly, it’s managing the extended value chain that presents the bigger problem.

As a consumer goods business, the large part of our footprint is consumers using our products through washing clothes and hot showers. Another challenge we have seen is

getting people to engage with sustainability and environmental issues. The environment is largely seen as somebody else’s problem and getting them to change their behavior is difficult

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

To support our increased focus on addressing climate issues as an organization, in December 2020 we introduced the Climate Transition Action Plan (CTAP) which has been approved by our shareholders. The CTAP lays out our ambitious emissions reduction targets to reduce emissions to zero within our own operations by 2030 and to net zero across our value chain by 2039.

As one of the largest FMCG companies globally, we have a lot of partners up-stream and down-steam that we need to influence. We therefore develop partnerships with our suppliers based on a responsible sourcing agenda via the Unilever Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP). It aims to reinforce our commitment of working together with our suppliers towards a long-term, sustainable, and successful future for all parties.

The RSP is instrumental in ensuring we deliver our business objectives while making a positive social impact on the lives of millions of people in our supply chains around the world and reducing our environmental impact. Beyond this, we encourage our suppliers to move from meeting the mandatory requirements, to good practice, and onwards thereafter to best practice – a journey of continuous improvement and one which we work with them to achieve. Finally, we are also using technology now to further our sustainability goals and offer increased transparency across our supply chain such via satellite images that track deforestation in the supply chain.

46 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
Change in our own business is not enough. We need transformational change to whole systems if we are to make a genuine difference on the issues that matter. ”
Head of Unilever Saudi Arabia, Unilever

Yasmin Fansa

Sustainability Lead, PepsiCo MENA

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR MIDDLE EAST REGION?

At PepsiCo, we believe that there is an opportunity to change how the world produces, distributes, consumes, and disposes foods and beverages in order to tackle the shared challenges we face. As a leader in convenient food and beverages we are in a unique position to use our scale for good and are targeting every stage of our complex value chain to use resources more efficiently, reduce emissions, replenish water, improve our products, and recapture packaging materials.

We’re helping build a positive value chain that is circular and inclusive. Our key goal is to achieve net-zero emissions across our value chain by 2040, one decade earlier than called for in the Paris Agreement. And by 2025, we want 100% of our packaging to be recyclable, compostable, biodegradable or reusable. To enable optimal recycling rates across the MENA region, PepsiCo has concentrated on mass collection initiatives in partnership with large third-party companies, targeted collection drives for example in residential compounds, malls or sports complexes, and finally, educational efforts to raise awareness of collection and recycling.

In Saudi Arabia, we have collaborated with our bottling partners and mass waste collector, WASCO, to increase the amount of plastic they collect on a yearly basis through their facilities and networks. With Naqaa waste management company, we diverted plastic away from landfills at

“Collaboration is key… We are working with government industry peers, partners, and local stakeholders to drive sustainable long-term value and competitive advantage. Through pep+, our strategic end-to-end transformation, we’re charting a new course to drive positive action for the planet and people through three key pillars, Positive Value Chain, Positive Agriculture and Positive Choices”

big events like Formula E and the Riyadh Marathon.

PepsiCo has also reiterated Aquafina’s recycling commitment to support the UAE’s goal to divert 75% of total waste from landfill in 2022. This follows on from exceeding our 2021 commitment to collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of Aquafina plastic packaging produced in the UAE in 2021, with the help of our local partners, Dulsco and Bee’ah. In 2022, we have renewed our 100% collection commitment with Beeah.

circular economies and are looking at policies and incentives to encourage more industry players to invest in the region’s waste management industry.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES?

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST

CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN MAKING MEANINGFUL CHANGES?

Across this region, the physical geography presents one set of challenges. The UAE, like the rest of the GCC, is surrounded by arid and warm climates, presenting a particular set of challenges that are shared by some of the world’s most food insecure parts. Then there’s water scarcity in Saudi Arabia. These elements contribute to the fragility of sustainable food systems.

Another challenge is the lack of mature recycling infrastructure, and awareness of the benefits that a circular economy can offer. In many markets, this is still a work in progress with frameworks in nascent stages. We believe that more progressive regulations will ensure that packaging waste doesn’t end up in the landfill.

That said, there are encouraging signs. Several markets have committed to driving

Collaboration is key. Through partnerships and initiatives that improve collection and recycling, we are making progress, and expanding consumer awareness. We are working with government industry peers, partners, and local stakeholders to improve recycling infrastructure through solutions that can be implemented at scale to help drive a circular economy.

PepsiCo has signed an agreement with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism to install 50 Aquafina Water Stations across the city. This movement encourages creative ways of altering our consumption behavior, reducing the prevalence of single-use plastic bottles. We’ve also partnered with Spinneys & Carrefour to introduce reverse vending machines (RVM) at select stories in Dubai. The in-store recycling machines enable customers to dispose of their plastic waste responsibly so that materials can be reused or repurposed.

In 2021, PepsiCo launched the first MENA edition of our Greenhouse Accelerator program, which seeks to enhance innovation and sustainability through collaboration with regional start-ups. The theme for the first edition of the program was sustainable packaging and circular economy solutions. Technology also offers great opportunities. We’ve digitized operations giving the farmers we work with full visibility through the crop lifecycle and the ability to track progress for each of our contract farmers’ crops at each stage. Digitization also allows us to look at the yield to make sure we are mitigating progress, reducing costs, and really working with the farmers to get the best varieties of potatoes which suits the local soil type and weather conditions.

Our agriculture efforts in Saudi Arabia in particular, are helping us double down on goals to source crops and ingredients more sustainability. We have a target to replenish 100% of the water we consume in both our snack plants in Riyadh and Dammam back into the local watershed annually through robust water replenishment programs and working closely with farmers in regions surrounding our snacks plants on knowledge transfer and investing in drip irrigation technologies.

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Eiman Al Khalaqi

VP, Innovation, Abu Dhabi Ports Group

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

AD Ports Group is committed to ensuring that the principles of environment, social and governance (ESG) are integrated into every segment of our operations. We are working to further both local and global sustainable development goals, addressing how we can best support the leadership of the UAE in achieving its vision of the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative, as well as the National Food Security Strategy 2051. AD Ports Group is consequently also striving to contribute towards the UAE’s efforts in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As a leading facilitator of global trade and logistics, AD Ports Group looks to achieve sustainable, sustained and responsible growth as a business that balances the needs of our people and our neighbours in the global community, while doing our best to protect an asset we all share – the planet.

AD Ports Group is supporting both UAE and global ambitions to achieve a healthy, secure and sustainable food supply chain through the development of Abu Dhabi Food Hub – KEZAD. We are also working towards a global, multi-stakeholder approach to global food security, by bringing the World Union of Wholesale Markets Conference to the Middle East for the first time as the hosts of WUWM Abu Dhabi 2022 in October.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, AD Ports Group worked towards sustainable global development in relation to medical access, by launching the HOPE Consortium in partnership with public and private entities in Abu Dhabi, including the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi. With the use of AD Ports Group’s Department of Health and ISO certified ultra-cold storage capacity of 19,000 sqm (the largest of its type in the region, capable of safely storing more than 120 million vaccines), the HOPE Consortium has successfully delivered over 250 million vaccine doses to over 60 countries, supporting global hopes for vaccine equity.

As a maritime business, AD Ports Group is looking closer to home to protect the health of our marine ecosystem, as well as terrestrial biodiversity in the UAE. As a part of this crucial work, AD Ports Group has been responsible for preserving and protecting Ras Ghanada, the Gulf’s largest coral reef. This work

has involved crucial steps such as coral relocations, new recruits at environmental breakwater, monitoring marine water quality, developing an ecological marine monitoring programme, spiny tailed lizard relocation, as well as marine debris collection.

To ensure that our projects are developed in line with sustainable best practice, AD Ports Group has now implemented the Pearl Rating System for Estidama Building Standards. This gold standard of construction and urban planning was developed by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to promote responsible design and sustainable development.

We are also investing in our people to achieve a sustainable approach to human resources that addresses the future needs of society and employee quality of life.

To do this, we are making a sustained effort to invest in equal opportunity, talent acquisition, employee well-being, learning and development. As a consequence, AD Ports Group has achieved 67% increase in Emiratisation (across our team representing over 50 different nationalities), and over the past year we’ve seen a 71% increase in female employees and have achieved 85% employee satisfaction.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

The ports, logistics and transport sectors have a crucial role to play in contributing toward the global target for decarbonisation.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), shipping currently accounts for around 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with more than half of maritime emissions originating from ships berthed in ports.

In addition to diversifying their own energy sources, ports will also need to be prepared to provide refuelling facilities for the green

ships of the future, an essential long-term capital investment. As an industry, we must closely monitor and take a proactive responsibility regarding our impact on marine and terrestrial biodiversity, energy and water consumption, climate change, promoting circularity, people and community welfare, and boosting economic growth.

Mindful of these pressing global challenges, AD Ports Group is working to develop strategies that will address each issue in a way that meets our sustainability standards, and as a result, we are working to ensure that sustainability is integrated into every segment of our operations.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING CHALLENGES?

Demonstrating AD Ports Group’s commitment to facilitating the UAE’s efforts to reach net-zero and support the UN SDGs, we have developed a Sustainability Taskforce, which supports action on sustainability priorities identified by our Sustainability Committee. Following extensive consultation with internal and external stakeholders to determine our strategy in this area, AD Ports Group has been working to promote clean energy, sustainable growth, vibrant ecosystems, and circular resource use.

For example, AD Ports Group has undertaken an annual inventory of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to enable us to take affirmative action to reduce energy and water consumption. Taking a proactive approach on monitoring and reducing our emissions has led to several tangible successes in this area. We have successfully decreased fuel consumption intensity per TEU by 32%, despite also experiencing a 22%increase in TEUs handled. We have also achieved 95%compliance rate for ambient air quality, and a 99% compliance rate for seawater quality.

In 2021, AD Ports Group experienced a 24% decrease in solid waste generated and illustrating the same proactive approach to circular resource use, we have reached a rate of more than 47% solid waste recycling. As a measure of the work that we have undertaken and achieved to date towards our sustainability strategy, AD Ports Group is proud to have had our efforts recognised and awarded by a number of leading global bodies. Our awards in this space include the International CSR Excellence Award and the CSR World Leaders Award from The Green Organisation, as well as an Investors in People platinum level accreditation.

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Cezanne Maherali

Director, Public Policy Middle East and Africa, Uber

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Addressing environmental concerns is one of Uber’s fundamental objectives. Over the last decade we’ve already made progress against this goal through a number of product and technological innovations. In 2020, Uber globally committed to becoming a zero-emission platform by 2040. That commitment translates into several specific offerings in our business.

On the mobility side, we’re working to make low- and no-emission mobility accessible for more riders at the tap of a button with Uber Green. Each Uber Green trip in a hybrid or electric vehicle emits at least 25% less carbon emissions compared to the average Uber ride. Uber Green is already available in 100 major urban markets across 3 continents. In the MENA region, it is available in UAE and Jordan. It is the most widely available on-demand mobility solution in the world and we are committed to expanding this option globally.

Though our core efforts are in Europe and North America, we are not restricted to these geographies. Sustainability has become critical to all countries and a set goal we would like to contribute to. We started adding EV’s to our platform in Jordan in 2018, the first market in MEA to have EVs and among the first globally. We later created a specific option on the app to encourage riders to choose EVs while requesting a trip. The Amman launch allowed us to understand how to unlock more electric, shared mobility in the world, and was one of the biggest green contributors globally.

In the UAE, we have set a target of 1 in 4 trips requested via the Uber app to be emission-free by 2030. Apart from this, EV kilometers on Uber Green in Dubai doubled from 2% to 5% in 2021, as compared to 3.4% in Paris, 4.78% in Amsterdam, and 7.5% in London. In line with the RTA goals to transform 90% of limos in Dubai to clean vehicles by 2026, Uber’s Green product will encourage riders to choose more sustainable ways to travel.

In Egypt in 2021, the Ministry of the Public

Business Sector imported the first 13 EVs into Egypt, and partnered with us to test them for market suitability. 9 EVs were trialed by drivers on the Uber platform, for a distance of up to 30,000kms per car over a period of three to four months as the country bids to create a sustainable transport system and reduce fuel emission levels. We are the first and only ridesharing company supporting this huge initiative - partnering with the government for a better, greener future.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

There is a spectrum of challenges that players at different levels, and across different sectors can help overcome. One of the main challenges is accelerating the transition to EVs. Drivers consistently tell us that having reliable, accessible charging stations is a key factor when deciding if they should switch to electric. We need the right policies, legal framework & initiatives on charging infrastructure. This would make the transition to EVs easier and more affordable for drivers, such as bringing down the costs of EVs with subsidies and strategic charging deployment across the city.

In parallel, we want to encourage more people to use different modes of transport and reduce over-dependence on private cars - which is another challenge. Therefore, we need to make public transit more accessible and easier to use while reducing private car ownership. For this, we first need cities to set a vision and expectations for the tech & travel ecosystem - envision the role each mode plays, including public transit like metro, local buses, trams, private cars, and future modes such as driverless transit. The public and private sector can then come together to reimagine the travel experience and work closely to integrate transportation systems through partnerships.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

Replacing private cars with better access to

In Saudi Arabia our partnership with Saudi Rail is a milestone in this journey as we work to adapt global tech to local needs and extend the reach of mass transportation. As part of the partnership, we have created dedicated pick-up and drop-off points at SAR stations, working with existing city infrastructure to improve mobility and streamline travel for commuters while reducing on-road congestion”

shared, electric mobility built around public transport is our key priority. So with both drivers and cities in mind, we are making a series of ambitious, inclusive commitments to help with lesser pollution, and cleaner, healthier, more liveable cities. We have globally invested US$800m in resources to help achieve these goals in the next 5 years, and ultimately transition to clean energy in partnership with drivers, industry innovators, and governments.

In Saudi Arabia our partnership with Saudi Rail is a milestone in this journey as we work to adapt global tech to local needs and extend the reach of mass transportation. As part of the partnership, we have created dedicated pick-up and drop-off points at SAR stations, working with existing city infrastructure to improve mobility and streamline travel for commuters while reducing on-road congestion. This is a promising way to enable a shift away from personally-owned modes of transportation. This also helps reduce unnecessary long parking at train stations, and allows for parking space to be transformed into places for community use like schools or parks. We’ve seen the benefits of it in New Jersey.

We are also working with manufacturers, and we have announced  a number of industry-first partnerships to make it easier and more affordable for drivers to switch to zero emission vehicles. Separately, we’re connecting with industry and government stakeholders at important regional events to forefront sustainability and find ways to leverage collective strengths.

As innovators best known for helping you tap a button and get a ride, we want to next become known for helping you go from A to B in a way that does right by the planet.

49 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY

Rohan Chopra

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of today, and as a company, Johnson Controls has committed to Net Zero scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2040. Since 1885, sustainability has been at the heart of our business and is fundamental to everything we do. And the same has been acknowledged through various global recognitions from different industry stakeholders like UN Global Compact, Ecovadis, Sustainalytics.

With 35MT CO2e saved across the world, At Johnson Controls we accelerate sustainability through intelligent buildings and energy-efficient solutions that enable healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Firstly, it would be the gap in acknowledging the impact of buildings on global emissions and lack of awareness. Buildings contribute close to 40% of global CO2 emissions. Also, we’d like to see a stronger

government push for the private sector through stronger policies and legislations to make lasting and meaningful change. There is also a need for a commercial business case with regard to sustainability projects, especially for the private sector, and we are also not understanding the importance of

data to fuel sustainable actions. Digitalization can be a big enabler to sustainability, but currently these two topics are looked at separately and individually

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES?

It is forums like Sustainability Middle East’s campaign that can help in creating awareness in the market regarding the importance of buildings to reduce emissions. Johnson Controls always endeavours to associate with such initiatives. In fact, we lead a lot of global initiatives around the impact of built environments on climate change. We also try to work with different stakeholders at the state level to provide feedback and share our thoughts as market leaders in the field of sustainability and digitalization which can lead to stronger policy formulations and building codes.

We acknowledge the market need to get access to funds for these initiatives. With net zero buildings as a service model, we take on the responsibility of upfront capital decisions, design and construction, and decarbonization goal achievement through simple fixed-fee models. Johnson Controls drives emissions reductions through its state-of-the art equipment that leads the market in efficiency, magnified by OpenBlue technologies and innovations. These solutions leverage big data and artificial intelligence to optimize building sustainability and deliver significant improvement in energy efficiency and corresponding carbon emissions

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With net zero buildings as a service model, we take on the responsibility of upfront capital decisions, design and construction, and decarbonization goal achievement through simple fixed-fee models.”
“ Regional Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Middle East & Africa, Johnson Controls

Raji Hattar

Chief Sustainability and Compliance Officer, Aramex

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Creating a sustainable future has been part of our DNA since the beginning of Aramex’s journey and it is a strategic enabler to our success and livelihood as corporate citizens. We work closely with our operations and different business units to realise a sustainability culture. For 40 years we have led the conversation on sustainability in the region, publishing the first annual sustainability report in 2006.

We created over 16,000 jobs with around 55% in the MENAT and GCC region with focus on hiring local employees. We also believe that women greatly contribute to a more sustainable world and we support women at Aramex through our policies to grow and provide a supportive working environment. In 2021 the rate of return of new mothers following maternity leave was 84% and 28% of new hires were women. We even chose to add the female Arabic language to our corporate website to help women feel more empowered.

Our key pillars under “Delivering Good” in pursuit of a sustainable future are; Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change Mitigation, Education and Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship.

We are committed to decarbonisation and create innovative solutions to reduce our negative environmental impact and combat climate change by adding new technologies; LEV, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles in Egypt, electric vehicles in Jordan and Dubai, electric forklifts in warehouses and using renewable energy through with solar farms in Jordan and Dubai. And currently working on two solar farms in both Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Taking an all-rounded view of our business, we have added a socially responsible procurement policy that addresses sustainability with the suppliers across our value chain. In 2021, 85% of our spending was based on embedding sustainability for the local suppliers in all our global operations.

Startups and small and medium enterprises

(SMEs) are the drivers of a sustainable future and we support them with special

commercial rates for growth, mentorship and sustainable strategies. We’ve supported over 35,000 SMEs across the globe.

We also stay on top of international best practices, trends and future guidelines adopting the United Nations Global Compact, Sustainable Development Goals and Carbon Disclosure Project so that our work is in line with the ambitious agendas of the UAE Vision 2021, 2030, 2050 and 2071 and Saudi Vision 2030 targets. This is possible through our sustainability strategy and shift towards renewable energy and carbon footprint reduction efforts.

In 2016, we set the goal of 20% reduction emissions per shipment by 2020, a goal we have now surpassed it thanks to substantial investments in renewable energy, electric vehicles, Energy efficiency and awareness building on energy use. To that effect, since our baseline year 2012, we achieved 60% emission reduction.

Currently we are working on the Science based targets initiative to be able to cut an-

other 42% (baseline 2020) of the emissions by 2030 from Scope 1 and 2 and 25% from Scope 3. We remain ahead of the curve where we set ambitious goals to achieve Zero Carbon Emissions by 2040 ahead Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) goal of 2050.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

The biggest challenge we face in the logistics sector is the technology available in our countries of operations. Despite green and sustainable technology becoming more scalable with solutions for energy efficiency, recycling and renewable resource, these are not always easily accessible in some countries where we operate due to regulatory restrictions.

The regulatory ecosystem will either provide an enabling environment that will grow the green economy and facilitate meeting sustainability targets, or they will hinder efforts that mirror international demands. That is why we are always researching and exploring solutions with different stakeholders and the wider community to maximise our future sustainability agenda.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We work hard to be a key player in capital markets and team up with regulatory bodies, governments, start-ups and NGOs. We also partner with like-minded businesses to promote sustainable practices and raise awareness through education, which helps us pool great support to face sustainable challenges head on. You need to add real examples here of those companies/ NGOs. I’ve added one below on W3W.

We also partner with the local regulatory bodies in our areas of operations to create a more enabling regulatory infrastructure to support the move to a greener future.

We recently teamed up with What3Words to simplify addresses and shorten delivery times. The technology divides the world into 3-metre squares and turns any address into three unique words, making it the easiest way to find and share exact locations.

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Kathrin Brost Global Head of GoGreen, DHL Global Forwarding

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

DHL is committed to sustainability in the region and we have introduced a number of projects to reduce our carbon footprint. For example, we launched a new, more comprehensive Carbon Intelligence programme as part of our digital customer platform myDHLi where customers have more options to reduce, track and report their CO2 emissions (in setting and offsetting options).

Furthermore, we launched the GoGreen Plus service which is part of our worldwide environmental protection programme to reduce and avoid the emission of greenhouse gasses and local air pollutants. It offers sustainable alternatives to our core transport products, such as the usage of sustainable aviation or marine fuel for transport and contributes to our mid-term sustainability roadmap to have at least 30 percent of fuel requirements covered by sustainable fuels by 2030. The service is based on the displacement principle: the more customers book the service, the more alternative fuel or clean technology is used - making transport chains greener step by step.

In the UAE, we have partnered with Total Energies to fulfil our zero-emissions logistics ambition by 2050. This partnership will solarise eight of DHL’s sites in Dubai to cover the equivalent of over 46,000m² of photovoltaic panels, saving more than 6,000t of CO2 in the first year. The whole solar system will produce over 14,000 MWh per year, enough energy to power over 16,000 homes yearly in the UAE.

We have committed to installing eight electrical vehicle charging stations which contributes to our goal of electrifying 60% of our fleet by 2030. In addition, we are pioneering new green solutions in the region. For example, we have launched a new 23,500 -sqm EV Hub in Dubai South to drive the EV circular

economy, where batteries can be stored, recycled, repaired, and processed at end of life, ensuring long-term sustainability.

We are also exploring strategic opportunities with the right government entities, business partners and markets around the world. Currently, we remain guided by our Strategy 2025, which focuses on harnessing globalization, e-commerce, digitalization and sustainability for the profitable long-term growth of our business.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Some of the biggest challenges are to do with pressures on global supply chains. Global lockdowns disrupted manufacturing and supply, which affected business over the last two years. The e-commerce boom also pushed shipping and freight rates to a record high. There was also an unprecedented rise in the prices of ocean freight owing to a container shortage, which affected the supply of primary commodities. Geo-political and economic risks are an ongoing challenge, as are labour shortages.

As far as sustainability goes, the unprecedented growth of e-commerce especially during and after the pandemic has come at a cost to the environment. Global freight transportation is currently responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions. Warehousing and logistics are also closely associated with a range of environmental impacts, like carbon dioxide emissions, noise and light pollution and even road safety.

Recent studies by the International Transport Forum forecast these global emissions to double by 2050 as demand is anticipated to grow threefold during this period. We are committed to mitigating these effects by investing in sustainable fuel, fleet renewal, engine retrofitting, and other practices that boost efficiency. Net zero-carbon ware-

houses, environmentally friendly packaging, low-carbon freight delivery, and clean supply chain practices can also help the logistics sector meet its green goals.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING THE ABOVE SAID CHALLENGES?

We are overcoming these challenges through future-proofed solutions and by building resilience through the automation of physical processes and facilities, reduced labour-intensive processes and technology investments, as well as the incorporation of work force flexibility.

As far as overcoming sustainability challenges, we have set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to under 29 million tonnes by 2030, with the ultimate goal of net-zero emission logistics by 2050. To get there, we have committed to spending US$7 billion over the next 10 years in sustainable fuels and technology as well as climate-neutral logistics operations.

We are also offering customers a convenient option to neutralise their CO2 emissions through the myDHLi platform for ocean and air freight shipments via the usage of sustainable aviation and marine fuel with only one click. Further, we have launched a new 23,500 -sqm EV Hub in Dubai South in the UAE to drive the EV circular economy, where batteries can be stored, recycled, repaired, and processed at end of life, ensuring longterm sustainability.

In addition, we encourage ‘insetting’, which is a great way to channel carbon offset funds related to transportation emissions to actions within the logistics sector. It empowers transportation networks with lower carbon technologies, from sustainable fuels to fleet renewal or engine retrofits. Improving the efficiency of shipments leads to reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

52 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
It is time for a paradigm shift – an innovative approach to drive higher investment into greener technologies and strategies in the logistics industry. Insetting offers a promising new pathway to freight decarbonization and with our GoGreen Service we offer our customers this option for all transport modes.”

Kivanc Karayol

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

We have a clear commitment to address and decrease our global carbon footprint, not only with the products we sell but also through all our day-to-day business functions. We are always driving to shape the world we want to live in. Our Head Office, based in Dubai, is constantly evolving to decrease our consumption of materials and energy, the same is true of our importers throughout the region. There is a huge focus on renewable energy with solar panel projects, energy-efficient lighting, and waste recycling programs just to name a few. Even our parts distribution warehouse reuses shipping material to reduce the consumption of our much-valued natural resources.

When it comes to our heavy commercial vehicle offering, we use the knowledge gained from our market-leading position in Europe to implement all the lessons learned locally in our region. We are committed to driving and propelling a fundamental breakthrough in electrification, but sustainability is not only about electromobility for us. We also invest in research and development of alternative fuels. Further, we offer products that use the latest technology and advancements in hydrogen, LNG, bio-diesel, and fuel cell.

One of our business areas, Volvo Energy, focuses on the re-use of the batteries in our product offering, thereby enabling second-life usage. From the development of charging and infrastructure solutions to the refurbishing, reusing, and recycling of state-of-the-art batteries that power our Volvo Group products, we aim to connect the beginning with the end, going from a linear business model to a circular one.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

If we must name one that we can sum up in one word, that would be infrastructure. With this, we are referring to main grid lines, client charging needs, and so on, but we at Volvo are partnering with suppliers to increase the charging infrastructure and even some of our business partners can provide charging infrastructure solutions to our clients.

Another challenge is the cost of ownership and the technical capacity challenges required to compete with internal combustion engine (ICE) units. In this area, however, technology and development is growing so rapidly that we are extremely confident we can coach our customers on the advantages, and in the medium-term, with the latest technology of simulation tools, the cost of ownership will decrease drastically.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We are constantly engaging with the government, privately owned companies, charging infrastructure suppliers, and our own local/ regional business partners to create awareness of all stakeholders. As said earlier, we are not only focusing on electric vehicles but also offer different solutions to different client bases and not only a one-size-fits-all approach. We are investing heavily in our battery plant and there is a huge focus on developing our product offerings base, along with fuel cell technology, and partnerships with bio-diesel suppliers.

53 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
If we must name one challenge that we can sum up in one word, that would be infrastructure. With this, we are referring to main grid lines, client charging needs, and so on, but we at Volvo are partnering with suppliers to increase the charging infrastructure and even some of our business partners can provide charging infrastructure solutions to our clients.”
Market Director, Volvo Group

Diana Wilde

Co-Founder, Aurora50

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

The UAE has aligned itself to the United Nation’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), from zero hunger to clean water. When Aurora50 first launched in 2020, we directly aligned our Pathway20 accelerator – which prepares regional women board directors for their first independent board role – to SDG-5, gender equality.

But as we have spread our wings to cover all diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, we see our work also covering SDG-10 (reduced inequalities), SDG-4 (quality education and lifelong learning), SDG-8 (decent work and economic growth) and even SDG-3 (good health and well-being)

SDG-13, climate action, also sits well with environment, social and corporate governance (ESG): companies are scored on their ESG rating to measure their impact on society, the environment and how transparent and accountable they are, and this is often a target for companies we work with, replacing older corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which could not be measured so well.

For instance, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) was upgraded from the A to AA category last year by ESG scorer MSCI, putting it in the leader category, and that move was in part made because FAB had partnered with Aurora50.

We were also proud to see our work with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) being referenced by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change for “driving positive change and equality” in the finance sector (traditionally male-dominated globally), in a report on the modernisation of the Middle East this year.  To create high-performance teams and get to the best decisions, organisations need an environment where all voices are valued – we cannot tackle the UN’s sustainable goals without inclusion. This is why Aurora50 grew further into the inclusion space: to achieve our vision of gender balance in the workplace for the GCC region.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

The biggest challenge we see is to generate a culture shift in the middle of organisations – the middle managers, at the mid-level. All organisations have different problems: some have women in the boardroom but not in the ‘C-suite’ - that’s executive-level managers such as the chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO) or chief operating officer (COO).

There is no one-size-fits-all solution but the common theme in companies we talk to is a pain point at the mid-level of the business. In leadership, there tends to be a high willingness and awareness to create an inclusive workplace. Meanwhile the youngest employees in the workforce are highly purpose-driven already. According to research done by consultancy Cubist Martini last year, almost half of Generation Z (those born in 1997 and later) say they would take a substantial pay cut to work for a business that focuses on its social impact as well as its financial returns.

The incoming Generation Z (the so-called ‘Zoomers’) are not an insignificant number either: over 100 million people in the Middle East are aged 15 to 29 years – that’s 27% of the population – making it one of the youngest regions in the world according to the Middle East Youth Initiative. In the UAE, it’s even higher: almost half the population was aged 15 to 35 years in 2020 in 2020.

So, the top is trying to cascade down and the ‘bottom’ is built differently, but there’s a real squeeze in the middle. Middle managers are the “lynchpin” of DEI, according to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. They are responsible for daily operational tasks and for carrying out policies implemented by the executive. They interact closely with employees on a day-to-day level and have a huge amount of discretion, and therefore power, in changing the workplace culture - or not.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING THE AFOREMENTIONED CHALLENGES?

There’s a lot of education to be done at the mid-level, to create buy-in from these crucial and to engage managers to understand the business case - and need - for DEI. Businesses, after all, make decisions on what’s going to make them more money.

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)’s 2015 report, The Power of Parity, stated that full gender equality in the UAE could contribute US$101 billion to the UAE’s economy within a decade – $10,985 per person. But at a granular level, it is hard for the average manager to understand how they can influence that $101 billion figure. Actually, they need to understand that the Middle East is often not that different to other regions when it comes to the issues it’s tackling; for instance, around 5% of CEOs in the UAE are women, compared to 6% in the US, and gender pay gaps will affect parity in their own team. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed gender equality by at least three decades, the World Economic

Forum thinks.

Parity worldwide is now expected to take 132 years, compared to 100 pre-pandemic, and female labour force participation is at its lowest level since WEF started tracking it in 2006. Again, that is something managers can really influence. Managers have a huge role to play in allyship with their staff: they need to familiarise themselves with their company’s DEI policies and programmes, use inclusive language, be transparent about hiring policies and reinforce zero-tolerance towards disrespectful behaviour. But they also have the challenge of managing both up and down, often without formal recognition of their DEI duties in performance evaluations.

Table Talks is Aurora50’s solution for mid-level inclusion challenges, to activate DEI strategies and to champion diversity of thought across the business, while our AIM accelerator for internal management helps more women reach leadership positions.   A key thing we’ve learned is to go beyond unconscious bias training. It’s good that people understand the stereotypes and attitudes that affect our judgement, such as choosing to hire someone from your hometown, but we need to move beyond just surfacing and contemplating our biases to really activating behavioural change by making specific shifts in line with each individual company’s culture and needs.

We work with industry-leading organisations with an authentic culture where leaders genuinely intend to make change, and we provide them with the roadmap to make that change. That creates a trickledown effect from the showcase companies, so the laggards also feel the pressure to change - and eventually we reach the full societal change that will impact global sustainability and help us attain the sustainable development goals.

54 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY

Dr Stephen Wilkinson

Director of Research & Head of the Smart and Sustainable Cities Research Cluster, University of Wollongong in Dubai

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

As the Director of Research at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, I am also Head of the Smart and Sustainable Cities Research Cluster, the goal of the Cluster is to develop new technologies and approaches to work towards a smarter and more sustainable future. I believe in “living research”. By this I mean that research should ultimately have impact; it should be taken out from the library shelves and online archives, and should be used to make a difference in the real world. The University is partnering with local government and industry, including startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to help them to develop ideas and technologies. Enabling them to use the University’s research resources and expertise to increase their impact on society.

The University of Wollongong in Dubai’s researchers are visionaries. They must imagine things to be different to the way that current wisdom would describe them. Researchers then design experiments to test their imagined reality against conventional wisdom and sometimes their experiments lead to a better understanding

search Cluster at the University of Wollongong in Dubai works on the development of new low carbon, no carbon and negative carbon technologies. For example, one of my research projects is turning desert sand into solid building material using atmospheric carbon. When implemented, the impact of this will be that for every house built, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will decrease. We are also working on using this technique to 3D print houses from desert sand.

The wider Research Cluster also has expertise in timber products used in construction. In addition to creating novel materials the research cluster also works on process efficiency, digital transformation, paper free offices, and building information modelling. We also work on automation of processes in manufacturing and construction to optimise efficiency.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

As Director of Research focusing on sustainability, I face a number of challenges. These include the recruitment of good PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, access to research funding focusing on sustainable projects, developing effective partnerships with industry to ensure research has impact, and facilitating conversations between researchers, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to test which research ideas and directions have the most traction. As you may tell, I am focused on increasing the impact of sustainability research within the Middle

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHAL -

Collaboration is key, I regularly meet with companies and individuals to discuss their goals and how the University of Wollongong in Dubai can help them. Dubai, and indeed the UAE as a whole, is excellent at organising events, trade fairs, and networking opportunities. I regularly attend these and present the University’s research achievements and opportunities.

The UAE is also home to a large number of incubators and accelerators. I regularly visit these and seek opportunities to work with start-up companies, to help build their success both locally and globally.

55 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
One of my research projects is turning desert sand into solid building material using atmospheric carbon. When implemented, the impact of this will be that for every house built the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will decrease. We are also working on using this technique to 3D print houses from desert sand.”

Aliyu Mohammed Ali

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

We are creating a sustainable future in the Middle East by giving new resources a new life.

This creates unlimited possibilities not only from an economic standpoint but also in terms of creating a healthier ecosystem in the region. Our innovative solutions eliminate the need for consumer goods to end up in landfills or incineration plants.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

According to the current rules, there is no difference between companies transporting waste to landfills and those that are trying to keep the waste away from landfills. This is because the rules were designed for waste management and not for circularity. We hope to see regulatory reform where there are clear distinctions in the way governments see and regulate these vastly different set of companies.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

We continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders from Municipalities to the Licensing Authorities to bring these challenges to their attention, and then to advocate through platforms such as this one. When you see what the authorities are doing to advance the Tech and Metaverse areas, you can’t help but be optimistic that the circular economy and sustainability areas will be next.

WHAT IS ONE THING WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT WE SHOULD IN SUSTAINABILITY

We can do better to communicate how sustainability is good for businesses. Today there are more companies dumping their waste in landfills in order to save money than those actively advancing sustainability and circularity. We should emphasise more on how critical the climate change and sustainability issues are. This is critical for changing behaviour of individuals, organisations, and governments. We can do that by promoting the economic viability of sustainability, circularity, and positive effects of fighting climate change

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WE FACE IN GETTING THE WORLD UNIFIED FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE?

Economic disparity between nations is the biggest challenge in my opinion. I understand the argument of developing nations that the developed nations need to take more financial responsibility for the climate crisis that they are largely responsible for. This argument should not mean these developing nations cannot do their part

though. Air pollution and water contamination, pollution of the oceans, and waste management are everyone’s responsibility. Secondly, most businesses are still not doing enough. Consumers should put more pressure on companies to make sure that they are producing recyclable materials, and that they are actually recycling. Without consumers, there will be no business. Businesses will then take the issue much more seriously and invest much more.

56 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
We should emphasize more on how critical the climate change and sustainability issues are. This is critical for changing behavior of individuals, organisations, and governments. We can do that by promoting the economic viability of sustainability, circularity, and positive effects of fighting climate change.”
Co-Founder and CEO, Ehfaaz

Dr.-Ing. Ouda Salem

Head of Group Power to Liquids, Hydrogen Technologies, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Originally hailing from the MENA region, and having studied for my masters in Germany with a program focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency for the MENA region, I am quite interconnected with the latest developments in the Middle East with regards to sustainability. On one hand, the technologies we are developing at my group in Fraunhofer ISE should be functioning almost everywhere over the globe. For instance, the ‘Power to Jetfuel’ approach is under industrial deployment by Saudi Aramco, and NEOM is looking at it too.

We are also working with MENA governments; for example, in Morocco we are developing national hydrogen strategies and roadmaps towards a sustainable

energy transition, which is just one example. On the capacity building front, I am lecturing in an international renewable energy master program in Germany where students from MENA are regularly graduating.

Simply put, we see the MENA region as in the centre of the global energy transition with significant resource potential and a wonderful geopolitics. Personally, I would like to see the MENA region playing a stronger role with regards to hydrogen and PtX.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

We are basically an R&D and technology provider and the MENA region’s private and public sector seems to have less focus on its own technological development, which creates an issue. The scale and the pace of change envisaged in the region does not really allow us to see the hidden value in the long term. Issues such as having intellectual property and regional production for such value chain components are an example here. One other important aspect is the capacity building pace is not yet matching the ambition of the MoUs, and even signed projects, and these will mainly grab expertise from other world regions.

For the moment, however, I am quite ambitious and we work with almost every government and large industrial/financial stakeholder, meaning we can identify their potential along the value chain while developing a pathway towards our own sustainability goals.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

For the moment, I am quite ambitious and we work with the many MENA governments and stakeholders by being a global player and exporting H2 and PtX products. That pulls forth the development of local capacities and hopefully it will also lead to a need to do real R&D and for our own technological developments in the region. What is remarkable is the communication between MENA pioneering countries. This is very positive as the willingness to cooperate is essential. It is a key aspect towards building a global successful energy transition towards sustainability.

57 SUSTAINABILITY MIDDLE EAST LEADERS IN SUSTAINABILITY
What is remarkable is the communication between MENA pioneering countries. This is very positive as the willingness to cooperate is essential. It is a key aspect towards building a global successful energy transition towards sustainability.”

Leena Al Olaimy

Founder & CEO, Symbaiosys

HOW ARE YOU CREATING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR THE REGION?

Over the past decade or so, I’ve launched and led four social enterprises focused on global sustainable development issues, spanning climate change, peace, and inclusive economic growth. I also wrote a book—Compassionate Counterterrorism: The Power of Inclusion in Fighting Fundamentalism—which outlines how we can build future-fit societies that are resilient to violent extremism.

My latest startup, Symbaiosys, is an AI-powered Saas platform connecting billions of data points to provide institutional investors with intelligence on bankable nature projects. Our vision is to create a symbiotic future between finance and nature, where market mechanisms recognize an ecosystem’s economic contributions, and therefore, its rights to conservation and restoration as a shareholder—not just a stakeholder.

I also cofounded 3BL Associates, apeople+planet strategy consultancy; Public-Planet Partnerships, a methodology for enabling regenerative collaboration between humans and nature; and Diversity On Board which connects underrepresented Arab talent to board opportunities.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

Fragmentation and silo-ed thinking remain the biggest challenge. Often, we hear leaders say things like “Let’s fix the economy first, then we’ll worry about the environment.” There’s a disconnect in the understanding that sustainability and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are mutually reinforcing.

Security is another key regional priority, and yet climate change, sea-level rise, water scarcity, drought and food insecurity will pose some of the biggest threats in the coming decade. Transcending the ‘sustainability as a trade-off’ mindset and viewing it through the lens of self-interest is critical for our human survival and flourishing.

HOW ARE YOU OVERCOMING SAID CHALLENGES?

Throughout the work we do, one of the most important elements is multi-stakeholder engagement to align sustainability initiatives with each respective stakeholder’s interests and priorities—whether it’s a

country or a corporation. There has to be a win-win, which is why we developed the Public-Planet Partnerships (PPP) framework. By designing a PPP, human stakeholders view nature’s contributions through

various lenses of self-interest such as job creation and GDP, improving human health, resilience and disaster mitigation, and other forms of socio-cultural and economic value.

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Our vision is to create a symbiotic future between finance and nature, where market mechanisms recognize an ecosystem’s economic contributions, and therefore, its rights to conservation and restoration as a shareholder—not just a stakeholder.”
BEEAHGROUP.COM
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