29 September 2022
The second day of the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) 2022 witnessed several panel discussions primarily focused on achieving net-zero and motivating youth to actively participate in climate action. The Summit was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, in collaboration with various global organisations.
A group of panel discussions were held on the second day of WGES, and prominent dignitaries and decision-makers from across the globe participated. The first session was titled ‘Dubai’s Carbon Abatement Strategy & Net-Zero Goal’ in which H.E. Ahmed Buti Al Muhairbi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Energy engaged in a fireside chat on Dubai’s net zero strategy. Taher Diab, Director of Strategy & Planning at Dubai Supreme Council of Energy gave a presentation on Dubai’s net zero strategy. John Defterios, Professor of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow, moderated the session.
Al Muhairbi highlighted the success in the private sector and spoke about the Council’s participation through public-private partnership. He shed light on the IPP projects, with almost 5,000 projects to date. Al Muhairibi also pointed out that up to AED 40 billion has been invested in the renewable energy sector, with an additional AED 40 billion yet to be invested. He emphasised that renewable energy is the future, though the hydrocarbon and gas sector will continue to play an important role. He said that the key factor that will ensure effective clean energy security and supply, is a transition from conventional sources of energy to renewables.
The next session was a fireside chat with H.E. Noor Alkhulaif, Minister of Sustainable Development, Bahrain, on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), moderated by Defterios. Alkhulaif focused on the work that has been undertaken in Bahrain to achieve the goal of a clean future. She said there were many measures to be taken and Bahrain has ensured integrated steps and collaboration between different ministries. She emphasised that the nation considers all sustainable development goals within its governments and ministries’ framework and actions plan to ensure a combined approach. She highlighted that sustainability has been one of the three pillars in the Vision 2030, with the other two pillars being competitiveness and fairness. Ssustainability has changed its meaning since the last 15 to 20 years, which was before the initiation of the Vision 2030, when sustainability meant economic sustainability, which focused on growing the economy and ensuring citizen welfare with private sector as the driving force. With the promotion of the private sector, Bahrain witnessed the growth of the non-oil sector and in the recent times, the biggest non-oil sector is the financial services sector.
A town hall debate titled ‘How youth activism is moving the needle on climate change’ was held in which speakers highlighted the importance of youth participation in tackling sustainability issues. Omnia El Omrani, President Youth Envoy, COP 27; Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change; Aysha Mohammad AlRemeithi, Youth Council President & Deputy Manager, Innovation Ecosystem – Solar Innovation Centre, DEWA; and Ahmed Alrebati, Senior Environment Engineer – Projects & Studies, ENOC were the key speakers at the panel. Brandy Scott, Business Breakfast Presenter, Dubai Eye 103.8 was the session’s moderator.
Omrani stressed that the initiatives implemented by the WGEO are crucial for advocating youth engagement in a meaningful way. She explained that solid structures where the youth can actively participate and express their opinions is necessary to accelerate the transition to a green economy. She emphasised the importance of a collaborative approach across stakeholders to position the youth as equal partners in climate agenda and also in the efforts of the WGEO.
During the Summit, the landmark UAE-UK Clean Hydrogen Study (in conjunction with WGEO) was also launched. Waleed Ali Bin Salman, EVP - Business Development & Excellence, DEWA, gave the keynote speech during this launch. Cornelius Matthes, CEO of Dii Desert Energy, Abdulrahim Sultan, Director of WGEO and Jeffrey Beyer, MD of Zest Associates, were the main speakers in the session. The discussion was moderated by Sabrin Rahman, MD, Head of Sustainability for Europe and the Middle East, HSBC.
The panel discussion on ‘Building Back Better with Youth Involvement’ in which the youth interacted with the private sector was held. During the session, delegates from the private sector highlighted their initiatives to boost youth engagement in achieving net-zero ambitions, while the youth engaged in the efforts in climate action also gave their insights. The key speakers in this session were Jean-Dominique De Ravignan, Human Resources Director at L’Oréal Middle East; Hatim Aznague, Council Member, Arab Youth Council for Climate Change; Sara Al Ameri, Council Member, Arab Youth Council for Climate Change; and Wael Ismail, Vice President Corporate Affairs, MENA and Pakistan, PepsiCo.
Sara Al Ameri talked about the ways to boost the youth’s role in climate action. She highlighted that the youth should be actively included in the efforts by governmental and non-governmental organisations and assist them in being a voice that advocates the need for sustainable practices around the world. She emphasised that the youth could voice their opinions on climate change through various channels like social media, and they can look for opportunities to actively get involved in the global efforts in climate action.
Following these panel discussions and other activities, another panel was held titled ‘Why the global stocktake (GST) of Paris Agreement matters?’ It focused on transitioning from pledges to implementation and from dialogue to action. The panel highlighted the importance of the UAE hosting the COP 28 summit, which will account for the much-anticipated stocktake that will measure the current progress and the remaining journey towards fulfilling the Paris Agreement. The key speakers of the session were H.E. Michal Kurtyka, President of COP 24; Jamil Ahmad, Director, Intergovernmental Affairs UNEP, while Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Director at UNFCCC Intergovernmental Process and Collective Progress, UNFCCC, joined the session virtually. John Defterios moderated the panel.
Kurtyka spoke about the need to move ahead with the guidelines set by the Paris Agreement, after the recent completion of Article 6, which provided an overall framework for international regulations in climate policy. He stressed that action is of utmost importance to inculcate technologies, create jobs, while simultaneously protecting the environment and ensuring a prosperous planet. He highlighted the Global Alliance on Green Economy launched by the WGEO, which has a vision of bringing together this dimension.
The panel discussion on ‘Hydrogen: Fuel of the Future’ showcased regional expertise and research and development projects. The key speakers in this panel were Manuel Keuehn, VP New Energy Business, Siemens Energy; James Mynupe, President Economic Advisor and Hydrogen Commissioner, Government of Nambia; and Prof. Sofoklis Makridis, Chief Researcher, Hydrogen, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Research Centre, Technology Innovation Institute. Jeffrey Beyer moderated this session.
In the panel discussion titled ‘Investment in climate adaption, investment in growth and resilience’, speakers discussed the need for balanced economic growth in the short term, while progressing efforts in achieving climate goals to attain sustainable long-term growth. The key speakers in the panel were Oliver Phillips, Africa & Middle East Lead at Standard Chartered; Aymeric Arnaud, CEO MENA of Societe Generale; and Sebastian Frederiks, MD & Head of Middle East – Wholesale Banking, ING. The panel discussion was moderated by Tahir Mahmood, Head of Business Development, Nasdaq Dubai.
As part of the youth circles organised at the Summit each year, a panel titled ‘Youth action towards achieving net-zero’ was held by the DEWA Youth Council in conjunction with the Federal Youth Authority, which focused on the role of youth in achieving sustainable development. Waleed Ali Bin Salman, EVP - Business Development & Excellence, DEWA, gave the keynote speech to open the discussion. The speakers in the panel were Raidan AlSaqqaf, Development Coordinator/Economist, UN; Chhaya Kapilashrami, Senior Director, Operations Coordination, UNFCCC; Nisreen Elsaim, Chair, Sudan Youth Organisation on Climate Change & Chair, UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and Omnia El Omrani, President Youth Envoy, COP 27. The panel discussion was moderated by Aysha Mohammad AlRemeithi – DEWA Youth Council President, and Eng. Hassan Khalid Sabt, DEWA Youth Council Vice President.
Another important panel discussed the net zero implementation case studies, which highlighted the crucial role of the private sector in accelerating the energy transition agenda. Ali Al Jarwan, CEO of Dragon Oil; Ibrahim Al Zu’bi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Holding; Nicola Yates, CEO of Connected Places Catapult; Ahmed Khashan, President of Gulf Countries Schneider Electric; and Alia Busamra, Head – Group Sustainability, ENOC participated in the discussion. Brandy Scott moderated the session.
Al Jarwan discussed how to achieve zero carbon emission and ensure a transition to clean energy, where he said that the journey till 2050 is a long one, and the UAE has developed at a tremendous rate in the clean energy sector. He emphasised that the energy required to run factories and other mechanisms should be uninterrupted while being responsible for gas emissions and finding avenues to ensure zero emissions, along with maintaining the cleanliness of oceans and seas with proactive measures in pipelines to prevent leakage. He further said that soil conservation and water treatment also should be of utmost importance to ensure a healthy lifestyle and food security. He emphasised that engaging in renewable energy for the long-term is a vital strategy in today’s time.
The final panel discussion titled ‘Understanding the role of green bonds in accelerating sustainability’ highlighted the significance of green bonds in tackling the adverse effects of climate change. The panel addressed the challenges, opportunities and barriers in the fight against climate change. Key speakers at the panel included Balgis Osman-Elasha, Chief Climate Change & Green Growth Specialist, African Development Bank; Eric Litgthart, Project Leader Green Bonds, Dutch State Treasury Agency and Oliver Phillips, Africa & Middle East Lead, Standard Chartered. The discussion was moderated by Shikha Garg, Director, PwC.