DUBAI -The ‘Road to COP28’ event brought together more than 350 prominent business leaders, entrepreneurs and government officials, in collaboration with 27 YPO chapters in the Middle East and North Africa.

Co-hosted by Badr Jafar, COP28 Special Representative for Business and Philanthropy, the event was attended by Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, Abdulla Al Basti, Secretary General of Dubai Executive Council, Lieutenant General Mohammed Al Marri, Director General of the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Khalfan Belhoul, Executive Director of Dubai Future Foundation, HE Mohammad Ali bin Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers , and other officials. The main objective of the event was to bring together collective efforts and raise regional business ambitions to address climate change in preparation for COP28 and the COP28 Business Climate and Philanthropy Forum scheduled for December 1-2, 2023.

The event consisted of a series of keynote speeches on preparations for COP28 and opportunities for businesses to participate in the COP28 Presidential Action Agenda, including those from Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN High-Level Advocate on climate change for COP28, and Helal Saeed Al Marri. , Director General of the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism.

Al Mubarak shared the objectives and vision of the COP28 presidency, emphasizing the critical role of mobilizing private investment to address climate finance gaps. The COP28 Presidency is fully committed to inclusion and recognizes that business and philanthropy are essential stakeholders in developing collective solutions to achieve net zero pathways and sustainable development.

The event marked an important step forward for the regional business community, as the United Arab Emirates prepares to host COP28.

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in sessions focused on critical aspects of climate action highlighted by COP28 private sector initiatives; such as the role of the energy sector in reducing global emissions and the policies driving it, the intersection of climate finance and technological innovation, the connection between the built environment and the climate, and the protection of natural assets and food systems to address the climate crisis.

COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber said: “In the battle against climate change, government and civil society cannot do the job alone. A fair and responsible energy transition requires significant private sector investment to become a reality. “Businesses must actively partner with governments and civil society to ensure the right conditions are in place for private sector investment in that transition.”

To drive collective action, COP28 will host the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum during COP28, which will take place in parallel with the Global Climate Action Summit.

The Forum aims to coordinate strategies on how the private sector can help address the funding gap of more than $3 trillion needed annually to achieve net-zero emissions, support climate adaptation, reverse nature loss and restore biodiversity.

Jafar, who is also president of the Forum on Business Climate and Philanthropy, said: “For too long, the climate narrative has been viewed through the prism that activism equals good and capitalism equals bad. That is why the COP28 presidency has called for a new paradigm of actionism, encompassing the dynamism, capital and action networks that businesses and philanthropy must bring to the table, if we are to have a chance of achieving the goals. climate and nature. This CEO-level Forum will break down silos and mobilize global business and philanthropy leaders, together with policymakers, to unlock solutions and drive bolder outcomes in line with the COP28 Action Agenda.”

UN High-Level Climate Change Advocate for COP28 Razan Al Mubarak said: “The future of our planet depends not only on government decisions, but also on the innovation, commitment and ambition of the private sector. As we stand at this crossroads, it is essential that companies and philanthropic organizations channel their influence and resources, closing the financial gap and creating a green legacy for generations to come.”

Director General of Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, Helal Saeed Al Marri, commented: “As we approach this crucial global moment, we hope that Dubai’s unparalleled infrastructure and global accessibility will serve as a unifying platform for nations and networks foster dialogue, share solutions, and drive climate action. “The United Arab Emirates is a model of innovation and collaboration.”

Business leaders speaking at the event included Ahmed Galal Ismail, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim, Khaled Al Huraimel, CEO of BEEAH Group, Rory James McCarthy, Partner of Yellow Door Energy, Samaila Zubairu, CEO and President of Africa Finance Corporation, Bader. Ataya, Co-Founder of Kitopi, Edward Hamod, Founder and CEO of Switch Foods, Sean Dennis, Co-Founder of Seafood Sooq, Riad Bsaibes, Chairman and CEO of Amana Investments Group, Sandeep Walia, COO of Mariott International Middle East, Ahmad Ali Alwan, Deputy CEO of Hub71, and Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa – Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center, among others.

The event highlighted the important role the private sector can play in meeting climate goals, while the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum aims to strengthen this collaborative climate action in line with the COP28 Action Agenda. COP28, which includes accelerating a just solution and orderly energy transition; fix climate finance; putting nature, lives and livelihoods at the center of climate action; and sustain everything with total inclusion.

Tariq Al Fahaam/ Hatem Mohamed