Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the activities of the first day of the 9th World Green Economy Summit (WGES) included several high-level panels and a ministerial panel discussion, to shed light on forward-looking solutions for a swift and equitable transition to a truly integrated global green economy.
The Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) are organising the 9th WGES on 28-29 November 2023 at Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre in Dubai. Several local and international figures, officials, decision-makers, experts, speakers, government officials, media professionals, and academicians are participating.
In the first panel discussion, titled ‘Bridging the Global North and South and the Public and Private Sectors,’, Raad Al Saady, Vice Chairman and MD of ACWA Power, gave the keynote remarks. In addition, Ingvild Solvang, Deputy Director and Head of Climate Action and Inclusive Development at Global Green Growth Initiative; Roberta Danelon Leonhardt, Partner at Machado Meyer; and James Keeley, Associate at The Policy Practice, shared their valuable insights during the discussion. The panel shed light on the necessity for developing a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure a smooth transition towards a green economy. The speakers urged for a comprehensive global effort to create an international and intersectoral collaboration between developed and developing countries as well as the public and private sectors to ensure a sustainable economy. John Defterios, Professor of Practice in Business at NYU Abu Dhabi, moderated the session.
“At Global Green Growth Institute, we firmly believe that stimulating global cooperation would pave the way for tackling climate challenges and fostering sustainability. We also believe that the outcome of COP28 must prioritise multilateralism in addition to channelling worldwide efforts and enhancing global unity. It is also significant to bridge climate gaps and fulfil the commitments made by developed nations to fund climate mitigation plans globally. Furthermore, increased funding for nature-based solutions, adaptation strategies, and loss and damage mitigation is also essential,” said Solvang in the session.
The panel discussion titled ‘Accelerating the Green Economy by Empowering Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems’ reviewed the key role of innovation and entrepreneurship in accelerating green economy transition and promoting sustainability. During the session, speakers highlighted the prospects of leveraging technology, innovation and entrepreneurship for environmental conservation, job creation and economic growth. The key speakers at the panel were Professor Saifur Rahman, IEEE President and CEO, Director, Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech; Dr Eesa Mohammed Al Bastaki, President of University of Dubai and Chairman at Academia and Youth Platforms at WGEO; Dr Aaesha Alnuaimi, Director of the Innovation Centre at DEWA; and Massamba Thioye, Project Executive UNFCCC Global Innovation Hub at UN Climate Change Secretariat. The panel was moderated by Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri, Director of Center for Futures Studies at University of Dubai.
The Ministerial panel discussion was themed ‘COP28 Major Milestone: The Global Stocktake to Promote the Green Economy Transition’. HE Steven Victor, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment at Palau National Government; HE Pohamba Penomwenyo Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), Republic of Namibia; and Ovais Sarmad, Former Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, participated, with the session moderated by Naoufer Ramoul, Senior TV Presenter at Dubai Media.
The first day of the summit also witnessed a presentation held by Dr Stelios Grafakos, Principal Economist at Global Green Growth Institute, under the theme ‘Today’s Global Climate Policy: Local Implementation for Global Outcomes.’ The presentation shed light on latest global environmental policies and evaluated its possibilities for local implementation. The session helped attendees gain insights on recent developments in the field, to adjust their strategies and operation plans.
In addition, the summit witnessed a panel discussion titled, ‘National and Corporate Approaches to the Green Economy Transition’, which highlighted the key role of both national government and corporations in curating and implementing strategies for green economy transition. During the session, HE Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE; Claire O’Neill, Co-Chair of the Imperatives Advisory Board and Former Minister of the Environment of the UK; Dr James Bacchus, Distinguished University Professor of Global Affairs and Director of the Center for Global Economic and Environmental Opportunity, University of Central Florida and David Haigh, President of Brand Finance Institute, reviewed thriving and innovative public and private green policies across the globe and outlined a roadmap for realising sustainability goals. The session was steered by Kim Kelaita, International Journalist and Moderator.
A session focusing on ‘International Cooperation: Redesigning International Financial Architecture for Green Economy’ was held, in which the speakers explored prospects of restructuring the international financial system to support the efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and promote sustainable development. The key speakers of the session were HE Luis Alfonso de Alba Góngora, Ambassador of Mexico in UAE; HE Diann Black-Layne, Director and Ambassador at Government of Antigua and Barbuda; Christian Deseglise, Managing Director, Group Head of Sustainable Infrastructure and Innovation at HSBC and Lina Osman, Managing Director and Head of Sustainable Finance, West at Standard Chartered Bank. The session was moderated by Naoufer Ramoul, Senior TV Presenter at Dubai Media.
HE Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico, along with HE Fredrick Reinfeldt, Former Prime Minister of Sweden, were the speakers of the Fireside Chat session, under the theme ‘Partnerships for Climate Change Solutions and Strategy’. It was moderated by John Defterios, Professor of Practice in Business at NYU Abu Dhabi. The speakers shed light on the significance of worthwhile partnerships to enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. It also highlighted the role of different perspectives and concepts in developing innovative solutions and implementing them.
During the summit, Taher Diab, a Senior Consultant of Strategy and Planning at Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, held a presentation under the theme ‘The Energy Transition Journey Towards Net Zero Goals: The Global Outlook to Achieving Sustainable Development’. The session highlighted the key elements that are curated to promote regional and global low-carbon economies and regional trends towards integrating new fuel technologies. Furthermore, the presentation showcased Dubai’s journey to attain security of supply while drawing significant private investments through Public Private Partnership (PPP). The host of the session was Naoufer Ramoul, Senior TV Presenter at Dubai Media.
During the panel discussion, titled ‘Global Stocktake Assessing Progress in National Targets’ speakers reviewed the global roadmap towards net zero emission eight years after the Paris Agreement. Patricia Espinosa, Founding Partner and CEO of onepoint5 and HE Majid Al Suwaidi, Director General and Special Representative of COP 28 also discussed key trends in the field including Global Stocktake, humanity’s progress toward net zero, and expected opportunities for achieving climate action goals. The session was moderated by Katie Jensen, News Anchor, Emirates News.
The Fireside Chat session titled ‘Accelerating Progress in SDGs’ explored the potential of building effective collaboration between national governments and corporations in attaining SDG objectives. The key speakers of the session were Jim Andrew, Executive Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Pepsico, and it was moderated by Katie Jensen, Dubai One News Anchor.
Another panel discussion titled ‘Accelerating Renewable Energy’ was held with the active participation of renowned industry experts and officials. The key speakers of the session were HE Ahmed buti Al Muhairbi, Secretary-General, Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai; Daniel Schwappach, Head of Sustainable Energy Systems for Middle East and Africa at Siemens Energy; Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Director and Head of Financial Services of the African Finance Corporation; and Fawaz Hadi Salem Ali Al Muharrami, Deputy COO of Masdar. The session highlighted the relevance of embracing clean energy sources in the drive to address climate change challenges. In addition, the session addressed anticipated challenges and opportunities of relying on renewable energy. John Defterios, Professor of Practice in Business at NYU Abu Dhabi, moderated the session.
The summit witnessed active evaluation on the possible ways to ensure a green economy transition that will benefit all sections of the society equitably, during a panel discussion titled ‘A Just Transition to an Inclusive Green Economy.’ Key speakers were Glada Lahn, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House; Dr James Fletcher, Founder and Managing Director, Soloricon; Dr Mahamadou Tounkara, Regional Director, Middle East & North Africa (MENA), GGGI and Dr Christina Voigt, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law. The moderator of the session was Kim Kelaita, International Journalist and Moderator. During the session, speakers highlighted the ways to advance the green economy transition to benefit the marginalised.
During a panel discussion titled ‘Providing Support to Low- and Medium-Income Countries to Finance the Green Economy Transition/Loss and Damage Fund’, speakers emphasised on the prospects of the Loss and Damage Fund in mitigating climate change challenges. The exclusive discussion highlighted the key role of Loss and Damage Fund in providing financial support for low- and medium-income countries. Timucin Engin, Senior Director at S&P Global Ratings; Dr Samir Hamrouni, Chief Sustainability Officer of World Free Zones Organization; Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President of Mastercard and Sheri Hicock, CEO of Climate Impact (virtual panellist), were key speakers of the session. The moderator of the session was Dr Isabella Bunn, Research Fellow in Governance and Global Ethics at University of Oxford.
Another panel discussion titled ‘De-risking Green Investments: Governments’ Role in De-risking Green Economy Projects and Public-Private Partnerships’, focused on the potential of governments in boosting green investments across the globe. It highlighted that national governments hold a key role in attracting investors to green finance, particularly laying down stringent regulations, guaranteeing a safer investment environment and aiding in risk mitigation. The session witnessed active participation of speakers including Dr Ute Collier, Deputy Director at IRENA; HE Aisha Mohamed Abdullah Al Abdoli, Director of Green Development and Environment Affairs, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, UAE and Dr Gurmeet Kaur, Partner at Pinsent Masons. The session was moderated by Katie Jensen, News Anchor, Emirates News.
A panel discussion focusing on the theme ‘De-risking Green Investments: The Role of Banks and Others’ was held, in which the speakers explored the significant role of private financial institutions in de-risking green projects and the opportunities offered by green economy transition to these firms. The speakers included Per Einar Ellefsen, Co-Founder and CEO of Amundsen Investment Management; Christian Deseglise, Managing Director, Group Head of Sustainable Infrastructure and Innovation at HSBC and Guillaume Mascotto, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Sustainable Finance at U.S. Bank. The panel was steered by Dr Isabella Bunn, Research Fellow in Governance and Global Ethics, University of Oxford.
In light of the continuous efforts to monitoring the Paris Agreement’s success, the inaugural day of the summit concluded with a presentation focusing on the theme ‘Is the Paris Agreement Working?’ The presentation highlighted the working paper by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which evaluated the progress in the Paris Agreement over the past years. It also provided vital policy recommendations for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The presentation was led by Simon Black, Economist-Climate Mitigation at IMF.