Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum

Charting the path toward COP28

Over 1,000 people attend Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, making it a major sustainability event in the region as the UAE prepares for COP28.

On January 19, Masdar hosted the fifth edition of Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum (ADSFF), which was presented by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) as a part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The event was held in an international financial center located in the heart of the UAE’s capital city. The key purpose of ADSFF was to connect global institutional investors, government leaders, and various financial institutions in order to give them an opportunity to discuss potential solutions that could increase the flow of capital toward the sustainable economy. The event focused on paving the way for the UAE’ first-ever United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which is set to be held later this year and become only the second event of its kind to take place in the MENA region.

Over 50 speakers at ADSFF covered a number of green economy themes in order to provide the event’s guests with insights about climate solutions, sustainable finance cooperation, and the implementation of green transactions and various products. Additionally, the event discussed many alternative approaches to advancing eco-friendly finance. ADSFF was attended by a lot of significant figures in Abu Dhabi’s sustainability landscape. Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan Khalifa Al Nahyan, President and CEO of UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA), was one of them, and she spoke about the Emirate’s dedication to creating a more sustainable future and called for action to prevent climate change. Additionally, she was able to share her hopes and expectations for the upcoming COP28 and highlight the ways in which blended finance could benefit a sustainable economy. Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, the CEO of Masdar, also gave a speech in which he shared his thoughts of a highly successful Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and announced that the company will release its first ever green bond within the next few weeks.

ADSFF had four deep-dive panels, each of which featured a thorough discussion by six speakers. One of those discussions was of a global carbon market. The speakers examined the entire value chain and commercialization of carbon credits, and how local and global decarbonization can be achieved by various investors. When asked to share their expectations from COP28, one of the speakers, the co-founders of Spiro Carbon Ben Worley, stated that the UN conference provides the UAE with a unique opportunity to step up and make a statement, not only as a regional, but also as a global leader in sustainability.

Multiple speakers at ADSFF shared their innovative ideas about enhancing the green economy. Ely Sandler, a researcher from Harvard Kennedy School, focused on discussing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which allows countries to voluntarily cooperate in order to reduce emissions. The speaker proposed a brand-new approach to this concept that incentivizes developed states to invest in developing countries and therefore de-risk private-sector investment. The event also provided an opportunity for nine start-ups to take the stage and be recognized for their pioneering work in advancing the sustainable development agenda in the MENA region.

After the conclusion of the event, the CEO of ADGM Financial Services Regulatory Authority Emmanuel Givanakis was asked to share his final thoughts about the event and the future of the sustainable economy as the UAE prepares for COP28. He stated: “The fifth edition of Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum is a vital step in 2023 as we align our strategies with the goals of COP28 to be held in the UAE this year. It is an ideal platform to gather both regional and global industry experts and thought leaders to pave the way to COP28, helping to unleash the trillions of dollars in private finance that are needed to power us toward net zero by the middle of the century. We remain dedicated and focused on the UAE’s various strategic initiatives, especially the net zero by 2050 target, and continue to heighten our efforts to support Abu Dhabi to not just build a ‘falcon’ economy but a green falcon economy that is fully invested in the UAE’s sustainable future.”

Overall, ADSFF was a key sustainability event in the Middle East and North Africa region ahead of COP28, as it was able to promote various initiatives and platforms that drive the change that matters. The event was a collective effort by the UAE financial sector to popularize the country’s aspirations of achieving a more green, sustainable future. The fifth edition of ADGM’s Sustainable Finance Declaration received 37 new signatures, which brought the total number of members to 117.