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Key ESG takeaways – WGS 2023

Under the theme of “Shaping Future Governments,” the World Government Summit 2023, held in Dubai from 13-15 Feb, brought together 20 heads of state, more than 250 ministers, over 10,000 government officials, thinkers, global experts, and around 80 international organisations.

Here are the five key takeaways related to ESG from this event:

1. Global experts call for urgency in climate action

Makhtar Diop, managing director of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), called for world leaders to bridge the financial gap to tackle climate challenges, estimating that the world needs about $9 trillion of investment annually to tackle climate action and about $1 trillion annually to help energy transition in many countries. He also confirmed that the IFC has built a new product that aims to monitor the reality of climate change in each country, and is currently working on developing it.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, president-designate of COP28, said that the world needs a “major course correction” in the fight against climate change, advocating for transformational progress to achieve a 43% fall in global emissions by 2030 in part by tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling hydrogen production. He added that the international community must follow through on pledges made during and since the Paris Agreement, with international financial institutions and multilateral banks unleashing more concessional dollars, lowering risk, and attracting more private finance for vulnerable communities.

2. First Carbon Capture and Manufacture (CCM) project by an energy company in the Middle East

Sophie Hildebrand, chief technology officer at ADNOC, said the project will use 44.01’s Earthshot prize-winning Carbon Capture and Mineralisation (CCM) technology to permanently mineralise carbon dioxide. She said this will be part of ADNOC’s investment of $15 billion from now until 2030 on low carbon solutions and into projects that will reduce their carbon footprint and help the company achieve its Net Zero ambition by 2050.

She added that ADNOC has launched another project – a fully sequestered CO2 injection project. “Here we are going to be taking carbon dioxide from the UAE’s vertical operations and we will be injecting 100 per cent of that back into Abu Dhabi’s onshore carbonate aquafers. Both of these are important projects. We start small and scale big.”

3. Launch of Dubai Future Readiness Index

The Dubai Future Foundation has developed the first-of-its-kind index in collaboration with the Dubai Government Excellence Programme to improve the readiness of authorities to tackle global and local challenges, promote innovation, and empower employees to design future strategies.

The index, which includes 66 sub-indicators across five key areas, will evaluate government entities on their readiness to address new opportunities and challenges, future-ready ecosystems, and their ability to adopt new technologies. It will also assess their efficiency in designing potential future scenarios and capacity building with foresight.

4. UAE and Saudi Arabia drive the region’s economic diversification and technological transformation

The latest Global Economic Diversification Index shows that the UAE and Saudi Arabia led the Gulf Cooperation Countries to develop their non-oil sectors, thanks to policy measures. Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also added that Gulf economies were performing well due to their relentless reforms.

In a separate event at the summit, Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary-General of the Advanced Technology Research Council said that organisations in the Emirates, including Abu Dhabi’s emerging R&D industry, are working on more than 100 innovative projects from quantum computing to autonomous technology. He said that the government realises that there is no “copy-paste” approach to innovation, and that there is a need to leverage its own strengths.

5. UAE is positioning itself at the forefront of gender balance globally, serving as an inspiration for other countries in the region

Mona Ghanem Al Marri, vice president of the UAE Gender Balance Council, hailed the global collaborations that have contributed to the advancement of gender balance in the UAE and the broader region. She said that working in partnership with international organisations like the World Bank, World Economic Forum (WEF), and UNDP, the UAE had built a unique gender balance model, leveraging global expertise to create a world of even greater possibilities and to unleash the full potential of every person, regardless of gender.

She emphasised that achieving gender balance in the UAE was not just a moral obligation but a critical component of economic growth and the key to creating a thriving, sustainable society. “Under the guidance of our leaders, we aim to bring about a significant change in the country, where gender balance is reflected in every aspect of society. By doing so, we hope to develop a working model that can be adapted across the region,” Al Marri said.

At the same event, Saadia Zahidi of the WEF highlighted the urgent need to bridge the gender gap in education. “Worldwide, 18% of women in tertiary education are pursuing STEM, compared to 35% of men. In the UAE, on the other hand, 61% of STEM graduates are women,” she said, highlighting the progress the country has made in empowering women.