World Green Economy Summit enters second day, delivers climate action recommendations

  • Event highlights climate challenges, sustainable financing, and role of ESG disclosure in green growth
  • Global decision makers, experts, and business leaders join interactive sessions and panel discussions

Dubai, UAE: The World Green Economy Summit (WGES) concluded on the second day which was held in Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo 2020 Dubai. With the theme, ‘Galvanising action for a sustainable recovery,’ and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the summit was organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and the World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO).

The final day of the summit opened with a welcome speech delivered by Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations and President and Chair of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). During his remarks, Ki-moon stated the important role of WGES in the global sustainable development movement.

“As we approach the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the international community continues its efforts to overcome the global health crisis. But climate change is a bigger challenge, as there is no vaccine for this critical crisis. As such, we must work together to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and ramp up our efforts to fast-track our recovery from the pandemic by shifting to a green economy instead of going back to business as usual. We will not achieve green transformation unless we guarantee the equal distribution of resources to meet the basic needs of people, primarily water, while ensuring environmental protection and human welfare. With optimism, we look forward to the future in view of the many opportunities available to us to expedite our green economy transformation,” said Ki-moon.

HE Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of the UAE, also delivered a speech during the summit. Al Falasi expressed the need to mobilise global efforts to address climate challenges and environmental pollution, as well as timely meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He noted that climate concerns will help shape roadmaps. He also stressed the role of an empowered youth in driving global climate action, and further pointed to the significant contributions of local entrepreneurs and SME owners to the UAE’s economic resilience, sustainability and diversification, making them highly essential to the country’s rapid economic recovery and efforts to return to normalcy. 

His speech was followed by a keynote speech ‘Extreme ownership: Taking responsibility for the climate crisis,’ by Lewis Pugh, Endurance swimmer and Patron of the Oceans, United Nations. In his inspiring remarks, he spoke about the implications of climate change based on his personal experiences swimming in cold regions. Afterwards, he was interviewed by HRH Princess Abze Djigma, Special Envoy of the President for resource mobilisation for SDG’s and climate change, of Burkina Faso.

The first panel discussion of the day was ‘Risk and reward— Sustainable Finance,’ which was one of the highlights of the day’s programme. The speakers talked about the growing promising opportunities in the sustainable finance sector, as well as the importance of integrating environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations in investment-decision-making processes.

The panellists comprised Sabrin Rahman, Managing Director – Head of Sustainability, Europe and the Middle East, HSBC; and Erik Becker, Senior Manager – Infrastructure Department, Middle East, North Africa and Horn of Africa, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and moderated by Eleni Giokos, Anchor and Correspondent at CNN.

The panel on ‘ESG disclosure and avoiding greenwashing’ addressed the growing demand for ESG information and the need for a clear disclosure of reporting standards to reduce the costs of corporate compliance.

The panel of speakers during the session were Michael Bueker, CFO and Senior Vice President Finance Middle East, Siemens Energy; Jason Channel, Managing Director, Head of Sustainable Finance, Citi; and Aurelien Vincent, Partner, Sustainable Finance, Citi and moderated by Eleni Giokos, Anchor and Correspondent at CNN.

The summit also staged fireside chat on ‘The coming regulatory scrutiny- The Green Economy and Policies.’ The panel focused on the need to update the regulatory audit policies and integrate governance standards into key institutional activities, especially in the Middle East, to pave the way for a green economy transition. Clara de la Torre, Deputy Director General in the Directorate General for Climate Action at the European Commission, was interviewed by Melanie Noronha, Senior Manager, Policy & Insights at The Economist Group.

The panel was followed by a presentation on ‘Food sustainability: changing trends, benchmarking and the latest solutions,’ by Martin Koehring, Senior Manager for Sustainability, Climate Change and Natural Resources & Head of the World Ocean Initiative, Economist Impact.

It was followed by an interactive session on ‘High tech agriculture propelling food security’, which highlighted the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on global food supply chains and the need to adopt innovative smart farming methodologies to enhance food security and reduce the dependence on imports. Sky Kurtz, Founder and chief executive officer, Pure Harvest Smart Farms, and Kyle Wagner, Head of operations, Madar Farms were the panellists and Noronha moderated it.

Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, delivered a speech on ‘Half a degree at a time: A paradigm shift towards a sustainable business.’ Ojiambo put the spotlight on the convergence of economic growth and climate protection and warned that climate change can have drastic impact of a half a degree Celsius rise in global temperature. She proposed the measures that organisations can do to reduce the threats of global warming.

Other activities included a ‘5 x 5’ – five minutes with five slides – on ‘Tech to power the green infrastructure boom’ on the importance of digital technology as the backbone of the green economy. The session highlighted the innovations that support green economy with guest speakers Felix Finkbeiner, an environmental scientist and founder of Planet- For-the- Planet and Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of AMP Robotics, and Felix Finkbeiner, Environmentalist and Founder, Plant-for-the-Planet. Cinar Kurra, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst moderated the session.

The interactive sessions dedicated to the youth continued with the theme ‘Youth: Today and tomorrow,’ which highlighted the importance of empowering and engaging young people as the driving force of climate action in the Middle East. It also pointed to the need to reconcile economic aspirations with environmental commitments to build a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Decision makers and business leaders who led the talk included Neil Grimmer, global head of Source Global; Taavi Madiberk, co-founder and CEO of Skeleton Technologies; Omaira Farooq Al Olama, Managing Director of ALF Administration; and Nasreen El-Saim, environmental activist and Chair of the United Nations Climate Change Advisory Group.

The 7th Summit closed with the Dubai Declaration.