The first finance summit dedicated to advancing the COP28 climate action agenda held in DIFC.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) hosted the world’s first summit dedicated to advancing the COP28 climate action agenda in the global finance industry, according to Emirates News Agency. More than 500 people attended the first of a series of finance summits aimed at spurring proactive action to accelerate the green transition and lead the charge on climate change. The event featured a panel of speakers from leading investment firms, banks, and financial service providers, who discussed the sector’s COP28 priorities and how to implement best practice decision-making across their organizations.

Dame Heather McGregor presided over the summit, which was attended by Simon Thompson, author of “Green and Sustainable Finance” and CEO of the Chartered Banker Institute. Thompson discussed how finance can power the green transition by ensuring capital flows to firms, investments, projects, and technologies working to create a sustainable, low-carbon world. Senior executives from ING, Zurich Insurance, and NatWest Group also discussed their commitment to achieving net-zero.

The summit provided a platform for influential contributors from the finance sector to come together and drive ideas forward to accelerate climate action in alignment with the UAE’s priorities for hosting COP28. According to Christian Kunz, head of group strategy and innovation at DIFC, “DIFC and our clients are leading the approach on how the finance industry can play a significant role in tackling the climate crisis”. He added that DIFC is deeply committed to actively contributing to the UAE’s role as host of the next UN climate talks.

The findings of the first Global Islamic Finance Retail Banking Survey were released at the event, and they have implications for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The survey indicated that 90% of Islamic banking customers from a variety of markets believe it is critical that their bank offers products aligned with the SDGs. Additionally, 86% said it is critical that the financial products they buy align with their personal values and ethics, and 87% are willing to pay more for financial products that support the SDGs.

Omar Shaikh, managing director of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, stated that financial institutions need a greater sustainability focus to overcome the real threat of climate change, particularly for developing nations. He added that 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. Shaikh praised the UAE government and the DIFC’s leadership, calling them a world-class financial center that shows the nation’s unwavering commitment to tangible outcomes.

The summit helped UAE-based financial institutions understand what COP28 means to them and provided practical direction on how to successfully shift to a low-carbon world. Together with the DIFC, Shaikh said he looks forward to encouraging and supporting the regional industry to both set the tone of ambition and practically accelerate the transition toward delivering net-zero.

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