Reading Time: 6 minutes

During the first day of the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) 2022, 10 high-level panel discussions were held, which witnessed the participation of prominent speakers, thought leaders, industry experts and decision-makers from around the world. The summit is 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. It is organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, in collaboration with a number of global organisations, under the theme ‘Climate Action Leadership Through Collaboration: The Roadmap to Net-Zero’, on 28 and 29 September 2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“The World Green Economy Summit brings together key decision-makers, experts and specialists to explore avenues to accelerate the transformation towards a green economy. The Summit supports the proactive approach adopted by the UAE in the climate action process to achieve sustainable and comprehensive economic development,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, MD & CEO of DEWA and Chairman of WGEO.

The key panel discussion was themed ‘Implementing the Paris Agreement: Building a MENA climate action legacy’. Dr. Dena Assaf, Resident Coordinator, UN Resident Coordinator in the UAE, James Grabert, Director, Mitigation Division, UNFCCC, H.E. Dr. Muawieh Khalid Radaideh, Jordanian Minister of Environment and H.E. Hon. Kavydass Ramano, Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mauritius, shared their valuable insights during the discussion. Speakers in the panel highlighted the significance of Egypt and the UAE hosting the upcoming COP 27 and COP 28 summits and how its positions the Arab world as a leading region in climate action effort. The panel discussed the steps and future measures that will be required to realise the goal of the Paris Agreement and create a climate action legacy for the MENA region through widespread adoption of sustainable practices across every facet of the society. John Defterios, Professor of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow moderate the panel session.

Another session was titled ‘Accelerating the growth of the global green economy’ was held, in which speakers discussed how limited resources diminishes the possibility of an unchecked economy and talked about the need to reduce the time frame in realising SDG goals. They also shed light on the urgent need for a green economy owing to the adverse situations that have been affecting regions all over the world due to climate change. The panel discussed various avenues that would contribute to the journey towards a clean and green future. John Defterios, Professor of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow, introduced the session, while Christof Ruhl, Senior Research Scholar, Centre on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University was the key speaker of the session.

Another panel discussion was held on ‘Imagining a world transformed by net zero’ and highlighted the need for decoupling greenhouse gases from the global development scenario to enhance resiliency and adaptive capabilities. Frederic Claux, MD Thermal & Supply AMEA & Country Director GCC & Pakistan, ENGIE, Khalid bin Ali Al-Ruwaigh, CEO, APICORP, Paddy Padmanathan, Vice Chairman & CEO, ACWA Power and Steve Severance, Head, Program Management and Marketing, Masdar City were the key speakers at the panel discussion. The session was moderated by CNN anchor and correspondent Eleni Giokis. During the panel, Frederic Claux highlighted the efforts made to achieve the goal of Net Zero and talked about their work in decarbonisation to contribute to the global efforts against climate change. On the other hand, Paddy Padmanathan emphasised that technology and employment facility are available already, and there is a need of widespread knowledge sharing, and highlighted the importance of a forum such as WGES in facilitating a knowledge sharing platform to accelerate the energy transition.

The third panel discussion focused on the topic ‘Financing Net Zero – Opportunities and Jobs’, which shed light on the redirection and deployment of capital, labour and skills that are required to accelerate the process of decarbonising energy systems. The main speakers at this panel were Vivek Pathak, Director and Global Head for Climate Business at IFC, Christian Kunz, Head of Group Strategy at DIFC Authority and Zoe Knight, Group Head of Sustainable Finance, Head of Climate Change MENAT of HSBC International. This panel discussion was also moderated by CNN’s Eleni Giokis. At the discussion, Vivek Pathak emphasised on the need for a solid taxonomy for transition finance, as it will be crucial for the hard-to-abate sectors to reduce their carbon footprint. He emphasised that transition finance, strong capital and technology play a vital role in achieving a clean energy transition.

The participants in the panel discussion titled “SDG11: Future Cities” analysed successful models of global sustainable cities and communities and the future state of cities. Speakers in the panel discussed the feasibility of flexible cities in the future and their capabilities in mitigating risks during natural disasters or a global pandemic like the world recently faced. They also emphasised innovative cities that use ICTs and other related technologies that would enhance quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring a sustainable environment that will help mould a healthy and prosperous future for the coming generations. H.E. Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Dubai Digital Authority, CEO, Dubai Data Establishment & Vice-Chairman of the SDG11 Global Council gave opening remarks at the session. The main speakers of the session were H.E. Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director General, Dubai Digital Authority, CEO, Dubai Data Establishment & Vice-Chairman of the SDG11 Global Council and HE Eng. Yousef Al Ali, Assistant Undersecretary for the Electricity, Water and Future Energy Sector at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. The session was moderated by Elias Aad, Partner, Roland Berger.

HE Eng. Yousef Al Ali said: “The insightful and forward-looking vision of the judicious leadership encouraged us in the UAE to work hard towards the transition to clean energy. Through this vision, we made qualitative and ambitious achievements in the energy sector, during the last fifty years, as it is one of the vital sectors supporting sustainable development and national economies, and a major industry for attracting foreign investments.”

Al Ali added during his participation in the World Green Economy Summit 2022 (WGES 2022): “We were able to overcome the challenges facing the transformation process in the energy sector by drawing up the National Energy Strategy 2050, which is the first unified energy plan in the UAE that strikes balance between production, consumption and global environmental obligations. It ensures having a comfortable economic environment for growth in all sectors and aims to optimize the efficiency of individual and corporate consumption by 40 and boost the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix produced across the country to 50% by 2050.”

H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, held a ‘UAE Case Study’ session under the theme ‘The UAE’s commitment to greener, smarter supply chains’ in which he highlighted trade as the key element in the UAE economy, with the rise of the new generation of bilateral trade. It focussed on exploring greener and smarter supply chains to achieve UAE’s vision of expanding trade while adhering to its commitment to address the issue of climate change.  John Defterios, Professor of Business, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow moderated the session.

A session on ‘Accelerating Agri-tech adoption to transform food systems’ was held in which speakers highlighted the prevalent challenges affecting food security and explored various avenues to recognise and address them to ensure a strong supply chain. The panel emphasised on food and nutrition security being a major concern for governments worldwide and how sufficient agricultural addition, effective regulations, smart pricing policies, correction of inappropriate incentives, and policy responses enhances the compatibility of intensive agriculture and sustainable management of natural resources and the environment.. Carrie Chan, Co-Founder and CEO of Avant Meats; Dr. Deane Falcone, Chief Scientific Officer, Crop One Holdings; and Ole Kristian Sivertsen, President and CEO, Desert Control were the key speakers in the panel. This session was also moderated by John Defterios, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow.

The first day of WGES witnessed intensive discussions on decarbonisation. The panel discussion on ‘A blueprint for blue carbon: Towards nature-based solutions’, witnessed speakers talking about the upcoming clean and green solutions across industries that would help reduce the carbon footprint and keep GHG and CO2 emissions in check. They highlighted the importance of new and upcoming technologies that would harness the renewable sources to ensure ecosystem conservation, while actively mitigating the risks posed by climate change. They specified that the use of high-impact nature-based solutions will be the most efficient and seamless way to achieve the goals of energy transition.. The main speakers in the panel included Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director-General, Emirates Nature-WWF & Chair, WWF Asia Pacific Growth Strategy; Dr. Raidan Al Saqqaf, Development Coordinator/ Economist, UN; and Eliza Northrop, Policy Lead, World Resources Institute. The panel was moderated by Ibrahim Al Zu’bi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

The panel session titled ‘Successfully decarbonising energy systems’ focussed on the importance of decarbonisation of the energy network, while maintaining the supply security, which has been a driving factor for the MENA region to develop environmentally sustainable and socially equitable domestic energy sources. The key speakers at this panel were Stephen Kelly, President & General Manager, 1PointFive; Dietmar Siersdorfer, Middle East and UAE Managing Director, Siemens Energy; and Charles Mellagui, CEO Cable Business Unit, Ducab. This panel discussion was moderated by John Defterios, NYU Abu Dhabi & World Economic Forum Energy Fellow.

With mobility at the centre of all industries, the first day’s concluding panel on ‘Decarbonising transport networks’ in which speakers highlighted the necessity of decarbonising the mobility sector as it accounts for one-fifth of global carbon emissions. The transportation sector lies in the crossroads of all industries, as well as the society, and the speakers highlighted the role that electric mobility will play in the decarbonisation process of the mobility sector. Nicola Yates, CEO, Connected Places Catapult, Gary West, Managing Director of Future Mobility, General Motors Middle East, Samer Kaissi, Country Manager, DHL Global Forwarding and Nada Jassim, Director Safety, Risk Regulations and Planning Department, RTA, participated in the panel. Jonathan Spear, Senior Policy Advisor, Atkins & Chair of the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation moderated the session.

The sessions will continue tomorrow on the second day of WGES (Thursday, September 29, 2022). The second day of the Summit will highlight an eventful agenda complete with panel discussions and speeches.