Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, recently hosted the world’s first finance summit dedicated to advancing the COP28 climate action agenda in the global finance industry.
As part of the DIFC-hosted Global Ethical Finance Initiative’s Path to COP28 programme, over 500 industry professionals attended the first in a series of summits serving as a platform to drive proactive action in the finance industry to lead the charge on climate change and be at the forefront of accelerating the green transition. The event featured an A-list line-up of speakers and attendees from leading investment firms, banks, policymakers, and financial service providers to discuss COP28 priorities for the sector and how to implement best practice decision-making across their organisations.
The summit was chaired by Dame Heather McGregor – historically known as Miss Moneypenny in columns for the Financial Times and one of the first people to be awarded the honour of Dame by King Charles III. Dame Heather is now Provost and Vice Principal Heriot-Watt University, Dubai. Renowned sustainable finance author and CEO of the Chartered Banker Institute, Simon Thompson shared his perspectives on how green finance can power the transition, ensuring capital flows to firms, investments, projects and technologies looking to create a sustainable, low-carbon world. Senior figures from key institutions including ING, Zurich Insurance and NatWest Group discussed their focus on delivering net zero.
The findings of the world’s first Global Islamic Finance Retail Banking Survey and its implications on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were released at the event. The survey attracted responses from more than 2,000 customers. 90 per cent of Islamic banking customers across a range of markets say that is it important their bank provides products that are aligned to the SDGs. 96 per cent responded by saying it is important that finance products they purchase fit with the values and ethics in their life. 87 per cent are willing to pay more for financial products that are aligned to the SDGs.
Christian Kunz, Chief Strategy, Innovation and Ventures Officer at DIFC, who also spoke at the event said: “DIFC and our clients are leading the approach on how the finance industry can play a significant role in tackling the climate crisis. In alignment with the UAE’s priorities for hosting COP28, the first in a series of summits held at DIFC provided the ideal platform for influential contributors from the sector to come together and drive ideas forward to accelerate climate action. As a significant contributor to the sustainable economic growth of the Emirate, the DIFC is deeply committed to actively contributing the UAE’s role as host of the next UN climate talks – the second largest in the history of climate summits.”
Omar Shaikh, Managing Director, GEFI, said: “Financial institutions need a greater sustainability focus if we are to overcome the very real threat of climate change, particularly for developing nations. The pressure on the industry will only continue to increase ahead of COP28 and financial institutions will be challenged to play a key role in climate action. The maturity and foresight of the UAE government and the DIFC’s leadership as a world-class financial centre shows the nation’s unwavering commitment to tangible outcomes. This summit helped UAE-based financial institutions to understand what COP28 means to them and provided practical direction on how to successfully shift to a low-carbon world. Together with the DIFC, we look forward to encouraging and supporting the regional industry to both set the tone of ambition and practically accelerating the transitioning towards delivering Net Zero.”