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“Moving Towards a Net Zero Transition: UAE Perspective” Event Highlights Sustainable Solutions for a Greener Future
ABU DHABI, UAE: LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) yesterday concluded the thought leadership sustainability event titled “Moving Towards a Net Zero Transition: UAE Perspective.” The event brought together influential participants from government entities, business leaders, financial institutions, industry bodies, and advisors to discuss sustainable solutions for a greener future.
The event featured a series of engaging panel sessions, each addressing key aspects of the net zero transition. Jane Goodland, Group Head of Sustainability at LSEG, shared her insights during the event, stating, “The progress made in recent years is encouraging, with governments and companies committing to decarbonization and working towards net zero goals. It is inspiring to witness the UAE implementing a regulatory framework to support its 2050 net zero goal, fostering sustainable finance and driving regional change.”
Goodland continued, “Capital markets have emerged as a critical enabler in the transition to a sustainable economy. The London Stock Exchange Group, with its extensive range of climate and sustainability indices, sustainable bond market, and voluntary carbon market, is playing a pivotal role in mobilizing capital and financing climate projects globally.”
Jeakko Kooroshy, Head of Sustainable Investment, Research, LSEG, said: “The gap between our current progress and the desired targets for the net zero transition is evident. While G20 countries have set mid-century net zero targets, the challenge lies in meeting the interim 2030 milestones. Closing the ambition gap is crucial, and we must accelerate climate action to ensure we stay on track. Physical risks associated with climate change are not limited to developing countries; they are already impacting G20 nations and will become a significant economic and policy challenge if we do not act swiftly.”
Kevin Iwanaga, President, Middle East, Africa, AirCarbon Exchange, said: “The evolution of carbon markets, both voluntary and compliance, presents an exciting opportunity for innovation. Abu Dhabi is leading the way by creating a regulatory framework around carbon credits, and we aim to scale the market at a faster rate.”
Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, emphasized the need for practical action and the importance of monitoring progress. He stated, “We have made significant progress in moving from pledges to implementation, but we must now focus on three key areas: identifying a pipeline of investable projects, reforming multilateral institutions to support the private sector, and leveraging science, technology, and carbon capture. Practical solutions and collaboration are crucial, and we need to ensure transparency, integrity, and evidence-based decision-making in regulations and compliance. We must also prioritize the impact on society and communities, facilitate just energy transitions, and accelerate the shift to renewables while gradually phasing out fossil fuels.”
Dr. Mohieldin expressed his hopes for COP 28, stating, “As COP 28 is hosted in an entrepreneurial nation, it is time for actions in the field, partnerships with the private sector, and investments in areas that matter. We need to move beyond discussions and focus on solutions. The world needs evidence-based decision-making, international standards, and a practical approach to address climate change challenges. By combining societal impact, renewable investments, and a gradual phase-out of fossil fuels, we can achieve the ambitious targets and transition to a sustainable future.”
Jennifer Chammas, Regional Head of Sustainability, HSBC Commercial Bank: “We are highly reliant on our customers’ transition plans and sustainability strategies to achieve our net-zero ambitions. We engage in a transition dialogue, incentivizing and pressuring our customers to ensure their readiness for the transition. Our aim is to provide support, guidance, and financing to help our customers survive and thrive in the face of regulatory, consumer, and supply chain pressures.”
Sarah Pirzada Usmani, Managing Director – Head of Sustainable, Asset & Project Finance, First Abu Dhabi Bank: “As end investors increasingly demand sustainability-focused mandates, issuers like us realize the importance of demonstrating a true commitment to sustainability to maintain access to capital markets. By creating a sustainable financing framework, deploying funds to projects and companies meeting specific sustainability KPIs, and committing to significant sustainable finance targets, we are mitigating risks and ensuring continuous access to alternative sources of liquidity and capital funding.”
Dalal Al-Sane, Head of Investment Banking, Burgan Bank: “We have set sector-specific targets to transition industries toward more efficient and clean energy solutions. Our focus is on supporting green initiatives and transition efforts in sectors such as oil and gas, power, and aviation. We finance projects in areas like carbon capture technology, solar and wind energy, nuclear projects, sustainable aviation fuel, and green hydrogen development. By engaging with regulators and promoting public dialogue on sustainability, we aim to drive positive change in the industry.”
Nazly Asadollahpour, ESG Director, Majid Al Futtaim Holding: “The pressure on ESG comes primarily from investors, who are increasingly demanding sustainability-focused mandates. Governments also have expectations for net-zero emissions targets. To address these pressures, we revamped our strategy to make it ESG-centric, focusing on governance, updating our application framework, and integrating ESG into financial planning. We established a green finance framework and committed to funding renewable projects, demonstrating our commitment to sustainability.”
Fazil Abdul Rahiman, Group Vice President, Sustainability and Climate Change, TAQA: “Different sectors pose unique challenges and opportunities in sustainable finance. While renewables are more straightforward, transition projects require more consideration. We face challenges in fitting certain projects into green finance frameworks and addressing the lack of standardization in ESG methodologies. Balancing risk and return is another aspect we navigate. We need to focus on creating sustainable investment opportunities, building regulatory frameworks, and improving disclosure and reporting standards.”
Philippe Richard, Executive Director, International Affairs, ADGM, Financial Services Regulatory Authority: “We are working towards introducing a transition-focused taxonomy to provide clarity and definition in sustainable finance. As a financial center, ADGM aims to facilitate tangible actions such as scaling up public finance, addressing blended finance, and ensuring a proper regulatory framework. We are committed to fostering sustainable finance and engaging with industry stakeholders to drive positive change.”
Nadia Boumeziout, Head of Sustainability & Information Governance, Zurich Insurance: “The insurance sector plays a significant role in the transition to sustainability. We work with customers on transition plans and assess transition risks to ensure insurability throughout the change. Challenges include a lack of sustainable investment opportunities, uncertainty around project performance, balancing risk and return, regulatory frameworks, and the need for better disclosure and reporting standards. Building knowledge and capacities, upskilling board directors, and fostering transparency are crucial.”
An Kelles, GCC Director, Jersey Finance: “We have made significant progress in the sustainability space, with increased awareness and collaboration among governments, IFCs, and industry players. Practical examples and initiatives have led to positive changes, and the perception of sustainable investment has shifted. However, challenges remain, such as determining what is truly green and the need for better international cooperation in setting standards.”
Belinda Scot, Head of Sustainability, Gulf International Bank: “Regional banks are recognizing the opportunities in sustainable finance and are developing their frameworks accordingly. Regulators are setting expectations for banks to integrate climate considerations into risk management. There is progress in adopting TCFD and other reporting standards, such as the IFRS framework. More work is needed in data availability, scale of sustainable finance offerings, and engaging institutional investors.”
Mohieddine Kronfol, Chief Investment Officer, Portfolio Manager Global Sukuk and MENA Fixed Income, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income: “The region faces challenges in scaling sustainable finance due to limited supply and demand. Data availability and disclosure are also limited, impacting the ability to manage portfolios according to ESG strategies. Public and private sector roles and commitments need to be better aligned, especially in addressing legacy assets. Despite the challenges, progress has been made, and there is growing awareness and engagement with sustainable finance in the region.”
Christian Kunz, Chief Strategy, Innovation & Ventures Officer, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority: “Innovation can be a catalyst for accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices. While government policies are important, they can be slow to implement. Businesses are responding to consumer demands and are integrating sustainability into their operations. Innovation, driven by technology and market demand, can make sustainability the logical choice for businesses. It’s crucial to view these changes differently and explore new approaches.”
Nameer Khan, Co-founder/Chairman, MENA Fintech Association (MFTA) Founder/CEO: “The region has seen a gap between intention and implementation in climate action. Lack of understanding, confusion, and limited infrastructure hindered progress. To bridge the gap, robust infrastructure and frameworks are being developed to enable businesses of all sizes to incorporate sustainable climate action into their customer journeys. Fintech plays a crucial role in providing the necessary tools and data to facilitate sustainable finance.”
Andrew Lloyd, CEO & Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Growth Solutions:
“We have raised about $80 million over 10 years, and in the last three years alone, we have booked over $300 million of business across four continents. Our product, which comes in three different sizes, has proven its unique value and economics to customers who are focused on food production and beyond. By localizing and globalizing food production, we can address the real problem of food insecurity and create an ecosystem that includes finance and risk mitigation.”
Suleiman Amin, Managing Director, The Catalyst:
“Our approach is different from traditional venture capital. We provide early-stage investments and strategic partnerships, ensuring startups have enough capital and support for the next 18 to 24 months. We focus on patient capital for climate tech startups, recognizing that their growth requires a longer duration of development. In addition to capital, we offer acceleration packages, connecting startups with the right strategic partners, government entities, academia, and the private sector, creating a holistic approach for their success.”
Omar Saif, Senior Specialist, Technology & Innovation Partnerships, COP28:
“As the COP28 presidency, we aim to support and elevate the climate tech ecosystems, particularly in global South countries. We are dedicated to showcasing and enabling local solutions through our programming and initiatives. By highlighting climate tech startups and focusing on themes such as water, food, and adaptation, we provide a platform for these startups to thrive. We are open to partnerships and collaboration to further support startups and scale their impact.”
Sacha Parnéix, Vice-President Commercial, Alstom AMECA:
“The story of our hydrogen train is driven by passion and engineers’ ingenuity. While there were no initial business cases or demand for such innovation, we self-financed the project and showcased its potential. For scaling ideas like this, we need long-term visibility, stable carbon pricing, and clarity on future demand. Taking a holistic view of the business case, considering the financial impact on businesses and the country as a whole, can drive investment and innovation. By identifying and engaging all stakeholders, we can transform projects and demonstrate their societal and economic benefits.