A green, resilient approach to development can usher in a new model of growth for MENA

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Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 5:06 PM

The World Economic Forum (WEF) hosted an expert dialogue on the collaborative action Middle East leaders must take to navigate between net-zero ambitions and socio-economic realities. The session, titled 'Transitioning to a Green Middle East', took place during the WEF Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos.

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Participants included minister of economy of the UAE, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, minister of economy and planning of Saudi Arabia, Faisal Alibrahim, CEO at Crescent Enterprises, Badr Jafar, CEO at Qatar Financial Centre, Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, and associate professor of molecular biology at Sultan Qaboos University, Lamya Al Haj.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most climate-vulnerable regions, with the destructive impact of climate change becoming increasingly evident in the shape of droughts, water scarcity, and elevated pollution levels.

Jafr said: "For years, I’ve been advocating sensible energy policy that supports a greener evolution of energy systems whilst ensuring we do not put energy security at risk or impede the economic and social progress of developing regions around the world."

“A green, resilient, inclusive approach to development can usher in a new model of growth for MENA, creating jobs while delivering the benefits of climate resilience, decarbonisation, cleaner air and water, healthier oceans, and sustainable food and agricultural systems," Jafr added.

Crescent Enterprises, a UAE-based global conglomerate, continues to invest in the energy evolution through its own operations, portfolio companies, and corporate citizenship initiatives. In the past three years, the company has invested over $300M across the world in sustainable investments, over 70 per cent of which has gone into global growth markets.

Session participants underscored a shared sentiment that mobilising climate action in the region will require a localised, multi-stakeholder approach. Optimistically, government, business, and civil society-led initiatives are on the rise in the region, with a notable growth in the capital, time, and talent invested in the infrastructure needed to progress. The UAE has invested $40 billion in clean energy over the past 15 years, with plans to invest an additional $160 billion in renewable energy over the next three decades on the road to net zero.

Al Marri, said: "Energy security is a high priority. And it’s something we need to really understand. The fragmentation that’s happening globally, and energy supplies, will really affect the aspects of energy going forward. With that, the UAE has a long-term plan. "The creation of the company Masdar, the implementation of solar panels, global projects helping the world to diverse their energy supply, all show the UAE’s investment in future energy security. The investment in diversifying energy aspects is important and vital for any future development of the region.”

Jafar cited the UAE’s landmark 'net zero pledge' and related strategy of going net-zero by 2050. He said: "This is all achievable with smart energy policy, as opposed to politicised rhetoric. The UAE’s net zero pledge and related strategy of going net-zero by 2050 is a great example of a practical and conducive policy that relies on a mix of renewables, natural gas, hydrogen, and nuclear in order to ensure affordable, accessible and acceptable energy is available to meet the growing demands of industry and our population."

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