GCC BDI Chairman Summit sheds light on the significance of sustainable investment and development

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  • H.E. Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia Minister of Investment, highlights growing emphasis on sustainable investment in the Kingdom
  • H.E. Dr Fahad Al Toonsi, Adviser to the Royal Court in Saudi Arabia, focuses on unlocking long-term value with sustainability
  • Sustainability as a philosophy is gaining ground in changing business landscape, reiterates summit in Riyadh
  • Panel discussions focus on building future of business with sustainable development, trends of sustainable investment, and navigating ESG
  • H.E. Khalid Al Falih and H.E. Dr Fahad Toonsi were awarded Honorary Fellowships by GCC BDI at the Summit.

Riyadh: His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has reinforced the growing emphasis on sustainable investment in the Kingdom and the need for a strong commitment from the corporate sector to long-term value creation through impact investments and focus on sustainable projects.

H.E. Al Falih was delivering his keynote address to mark the opening of the 8th Chairman Summit of the GCC Board Directors Institute [GCC BDI], a not-for-profit organisation that promotes board effectiveness and good corporate governance, supporting GCC boards and board directors, in Riyadh on October 6.

Guest speakers at the GCC BDI Chairman Summit included H.E. Dr Fahad Toonsi, Adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, HE Abdullatif Al Othman, Founding Chairman of GCC BDI,Mohammed Asiri, CEO, Saudi Red Sea Authority, and John Pagano, CEO of The Red Sea Development Company & AMAALA.

GCC BDI, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, brought together influential chairpersons, board members and C-Suite executives from across the GCC region and beyond to explore the ever-evolving role of boards and the implementation of best practices in corporate governance for the annual flagship event.

The summit, held under the theme of ‘Sustainable Development and Investment’, also explored ways to develop the economy and set new standards in sustainable development in the region and globally. It also examined the latest trends in sustainable investment, as well as in environmental and social governance.

In his address, H.E. Dr. Fahad Toonsi, Adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, focused on the governance of sustainability, emphasizing that by seizing the opportunities and working together on the sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance [ESG] priorities, the private and government sectors can not only create a more sustainable future but also unlock significant long-term value for the businesses and society.

This year, the Summit was run in partnership with The Red Sea Development Company, the developer behind The Red Sea and AMAALA. A total of 200 participants attended the Summit, which was a blend of physical and virtual modes this year.

H.E. Eng. Abdullatif Al Othman, Governor and Founding Chairman of GCC BDI, and Jane Valls, Executive Director, GCC BDI, delivered the welcome address at the Summit, while John Pagano, Chief Executive Officer of The Red Sea Development Company, shed light on the development company’s master plan and its commitment to going beyond sustainability to deliver a regenerative approach to tourism development.

H.E. Khalid Al Falih and H.E. Dr Fahad Toonsi were also awarded Honorary Fellowships by GCC BDI at the Summit. Honorary Fellowship is an honour bestowed by GCC BDI and is awarded for life to an individual who has rendered long and distinguished service in raising the standards of corporate governance.

Talking about the success of the 8th Chairman Summit, Jane Valls, Executive Director, GCC BDI, said: “Sustainability and ESG considerations have been top-of-mind for several years. These have increased in importance recently – partly due to the pandemic, the increasing impacts of climate change, and increased awareness of social inequalities. As a business philosophy, sustainability is gaining ground and will only increase in significance in the future. To mark our 15th Anniversary, GCC BDI made sustainable development and sustainable investment a key focus area to deliberate upon at our flagship Chairman Summit. The interesting viewpoints and valuable insights shared at the Summit will go a long way in shaping the regional agenda, corporate processes and business value chains.”

Jane added: “We are thankful to His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, H.E. Dr Fahad Toonsi, Adviser to the Saudi Royal Court, and to John Pagano and the team at the Red Sea Development Company and AMAALA and all our participants for attending the summit and airing their views on this important topic which will help raise awareness and enhance sustainability governance practices in the region.”

In his comments on the Chairman’s Summit, John Pagano, Group Chief Executive Officer of The Red Sea Development Company, said: “The GCC BDI Chairman’s Summit was a great platform for us at The Red Sea Development Company to reinforce our commitment to sustainable development and investments in the Kingdom. This was an opportunity to showcase our ambition to not only preserve but actively enhance the natural environment and deliver on our commitment to develop the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism projects.”

He added: “The deliberations during the Summit were extremely educational, presenting the key opportunities in sustainability, ESG best practices, and corporate governance. At The Red Sea Development Company, we saw this Summit as a great opportunity to understand the emerging trends in the sustainability and ESG domain and share our experiences with the wider community.”

The day long summit also comprised panel discussions on ‘Building the Future of Business – Sustainable Development’, ‘Emerging Trends in Sustainable Investment’, and ‘Navigating ESG’. Participants included Dr Lama Al-Sulaiman, Independent Board Director and a board member of Rolaco Holdings; Mohammed Alrumaih, Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Exchange; Rajiv Shukla, Senior Managing Director & Advisor to the Regional CEO, HSBC Saudi Arabia; Stephane Lapiquonne, Head of Sustainable Investing, EMEA for Blackrock; Karina Litvack, Chair of the Governing Board, Climate Governance Initiative; Dr Maryam Ficociello, Group Chief Governance Officer of The Red Sea Development Company; Pradeep Rana, Group Chief Risk Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank; Richard Barker, ISSB Board Member International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation;John Defterios, Senior Advisor, APCO Worldwide; Gregory Djerejian, Group Head of Legal, The Red Sea Development Company; and David Grover, Group Chief Executive Officer, ROSHN; Jean-Christophe Durand, CEO, National Bank of Bahrain; Manish Manchandya, Senior Vice President Finance & Group CFO, Saudi Electricity Company; Tarek El Sayed, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company; Becky Anderson, Managing Editor, CNN Abu Dhabi & Anchor; and Akash Soomro, Partner, McKinsey & Company.

The panel discussions covered, among other topics, incentives to companies to prioritize sustainable development, policies and regulations, greenhouse gas emissions, ESG in real estate, financing sustainable development, green bonds, impact investing, incorporating ESG considerations in investment decisions, embracing theories of stakeholder capitalism to drive long-term value creation and sustainable growth, ESG reporting, and tangible steps to make ESG successful.

The GCC BDI Chairman Summit is an annual leadership event, by invitation only, that has attracted more than 1,500 high level participations since its inception in 2013. The event was governed by Chatham House rules.

About GCC Board of Directors Institute

GCC Board Directors Institute [GCC BDI] is a not-for-profit organisation which guides board directors of organizations, from family-owned businesses to listed companies, to acquire the know-how and the tools to reach and sustain effective governance. Launched in 2007, GCC BDU is celebrating its 15th anniversary. GCC BDI is supported by eight leading regional corporations and professional services firms who serve as its strategic partners.

The institute’s mission is to enhance board member capabilities, create a strong and influential regional network of board members, and disseminate high-quality corporate governance knowledge, leading the regional debate on emerging best governance practices. GCC BDI aims to accomplish these goals through a combination of effective practice and experience sharing, access to global knowledge and interaction with regional and international counterparts.

GCC BDI has grown to become the leading organization in the region for board directors and has delivered over 400 programmes and forums to top-tier companies in the Gulf and now comprise over 2600 members, each with extensive knowledge and experience in operating at the most senior levels of business in the GCC.

About The Red Sea Development Company

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC – www.theredsea.sa) is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury, regenerative tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project is being developed over 28,000 km2 of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands. The destination also features sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. It is designed to include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and re-use, as well as a circular waste management system to achieve zero waste to landfill.

Activity for the first phase of development is well underway and is on track to be completed by the end of 2023. The project has surpassed significant milestones, with over 1000 contracts signed to date, worth in excess SAR 25 bn ($6.6bn).

The 100-hectare Landscape Nursery, which will provide more than 25 million plants for The Red Sea Project and AMAALA, is now fully operational. There are more than 20,000 workers currently on-site and 90km of new roads are now complete. The Construction Village and the Waste Management Centre are both fully operational and development is progressing well at the Coastal Village, which will be home to around 14,000 people who will eventually work at the destination.