UNEP Finance Initiative’s 14th Global Round-Table

The UAE’s financial institutions participating at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative’s 14th Global Roundtable, have signed the Dubai Declaration on Sustainable Financing.  With the signing of the declaration they have also confirmed their support for the UAE Vision 2021, and for transforming the national economy to a green economy in accordance with the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030.

The signatories also stressed the need for co-operation between the financial sector, the UAE government, UNEP and other relevant institutions to contribute to the process of transformation. This can be done by improving corporate environmental and societal performance, providing economic, environmental and social opportunities, lend, invest, facilitate financing, or provide insurance to the projects, businesses and customers with sustainable purposes. It could also be done by supporting the growth of a successful small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, as well as taking into account climate and environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk in the institution’s risk management processes.

This came up at the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative’s 14th Global Roundtable event, which was inaugurated today by Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.  In his opening remarks, Dr. Al Zeyoudi extended thanks and gratitude to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council, for his patronage of this event and his continued support for the efforts to transform UAE’s national economy to a green low-carbon economy.

“We are meeting here today to continue the discussion of funding sustainable development projects and we all hope to contribute to the positive atmosphere created by the globally accepted Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Paris Agreement on climate change to overcome the obstacles of securing the necessary funding for the process of transformation, especially in the least developed countries,” he said.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi indicated that the issue of financing green investments is the main approach in the UAE Green Development Strategy, launched by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the slogan “Green Economy for Sustainable Development”, and a key element in the green agenda.

Mubarak Rashid Khamis Al Mansouri, Governor of the Central Bank, said, “Achieving a green economy requires the contribution of the private sector to invest in several projects, not only in the renewable energy sector, but also in various green and eco-friendly business areas.  We need to work towards improving the bank financing for green projects in the UAE, and to find the best way to contribute to the government’s efforts to change the flow of investments in the field of sustainability.

“As part of our commitment to host the UNEP FI’s Global Roundtable, the Central Bank has begun to work closely with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Federation of UAE Banks in order to involve UAE financial institutions in sustainable funding dialogue sessions.”

UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative Head, Eric Usher said, “We are seeing increasing momentum in the drive to create global financial systems and institutions that are resilient to climate change, and financial services companies that are building sustainable development into their core business strategy. But there is still much work to be done.  This region is serious about leading the move towards a green economy and we are looking forward to discussing in Dubai how we move the sustainable finance agenda forward both here and around the globe.” On the first day of the UNEP FI’s 2016 Global Roundtable received major commitment from local financial institutions. During the opening session, the Dubai Declaration on Sustainable Finance was unveiled: eleven UAE-based financial institutions have committed to the Declaration confirming their support for the UAE Vision 2021, and to transforming to a green economy.

Participants were entertained by a surprise appearance from Solar Impulse founder and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Bertrand Piccard via video link. The session explored how across the globe policy makers, financial regulators and supervisors have been creating policies, regulations and standards that are helping to shift the financial system to better align with sustainable development.

UN Environment’s Executive Director, Erik Solheim was opening keynote speaker for day two of the roundtable. He is convinced that the private sector, and in particular, the finance community are key to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Achieving a green economy transformation will require a three-pronged approach: the engagement of citizens; brave politicians and private sector leaders driving change; and innovative markets.

In the second keynote address of the day, Rachel Kyte, CEO Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General echoed the importance of the role of financial institutions, saying they must be bold, as they are the engines of change.

She also stressed the importance of transparency, and disclosure in delivering a sustainable world. The theme of positive impact, financing the Sustainable Development Goals was explored in a plenary session, as well as in a series of workshops.

Other sessions included the introduction of the financial sector supplement which is being developed as part of the new Natural Capital Protocol, lightning rounds which provided an opportunity to discuss the practical application of innovative tools for sustainable finance such as renewable energy and climate change solutions.

Breakout sessions were held on financial technology for sustainable development; energy, water and food; creating resilient cities; and sustainable stock exchanges. UNEP FI also launched a new report examining how financial institutions are individually and collectively driving change: Connecting the Financial System and Sustainable Development: Market Leadership Paper, prepared as a contribution to the second edition of The Financial System We Need’ report of the UNEP Inquiry.  The conference closed with a call to action from Saker Nusseibeh, CEO Hermes Investment Management. He reminded financial institutions of their duty to create a better future, and to continue the work towards a green economy in a partnership with government and civil society.

The Chief Executive of Melange and President COPAIR attended the event.

Author is the President, Center Of Pakistan And International Relations (COPAIR) and Editor -in- Chief of ‘Mélange’

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