In the previous two parts of Nfinity8’s  COP28 series, we have highlighted the global institutions and foundational agreements upon which the core of global climate action is based on. As well as showcasing the importance of climate knowledge starting from the individual, local and regional levels to the global level. 

Now, as the UAE moves closer to embracing the momentous COP28 by the end of November 2023, few things are more important than to know where we stand today, the undeniable efforts exerted by the UAE leading into the global climate event, and eventually trying to envision the road to the future of our planet through the UAE lens. Let’s continue our climate knowledge journey together. 

The UAE as a Regional Collaboration Centre (RCCs) 

The workforce that the secretariat of the UNFCCC relies on are not distant individuals who dedicate their careers and lives to climate action separately. They actually conglomerate their efforts into organized groups starting from the local level, and the joint efforts of such groups helps find their regional and continental momentum when they collaborate together, under the supervision of the UNFCCC at the top. 

This is why it is essential to understand the concept of RCCs (AKA: Regional Collaboration Centres), as the UAE represents one of these crucial collaboration centres across the MENA and South Asia regions. 

RCCs were instituted to encourage more well-off countries to financially support the underdeveloped and least-developed countries of the world, through investments in the sustainability projects listed under their NDCs, to reward their efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to expand the benefits of what is termed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Which is an UN-run carbon offset programme that allows and encourages countries to fund GHG emissions’ reduction initiatives in other countries, to meet emissions targets on the global level. 

On the 20th of October 2019, the regional collaboration centre for the entire MENA and South Asia regions has been established in the great emirate of Dubai, to institutionalize the collaboration between the UNFCCC and the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and to advance the Paris Agreement objectives in these regions and beyond. 

Patricia Espinosa, the then-Executive secretary of the UNFCC commented on this milestone at the time, saying: “I am delighted to celebrate the opening of RCC Dubai. Regional collaboration is a key to informing, activating and catalysing action on climate change”. Adding that: “This collaboration will be instrumental in enhancing the scale of climate action in the region in an efficient, impactful and collaborative manner.” 

This step confirmed the pivotal role that the UAE plays in filling the knowledge gaps in climate change on the fronts of adaptation, strategizing, access to climate finance, and leveraging the energy of women and youth to introduce fresh methods and innovative initiatives to address climate change. 

The UAE continues to play a vital role on the regional and international levels through its CDM approach, which helps channel resources to the countries that need it the most, facilitating the implementation of their NDCs and NAPs, so they can meet the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. 

COP27 > 28: Where We Stand Today? 

It is not an exaggeration to say that the world is going through a critical decade when it comes to conquering climate change. And to know where we are heading, we must always know where we stand. This is why it’s enlightening to highlight the five main takeaways from COP27, which was held in November 2022 in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt. 

The UAE government’s course of action attests that we have closely looked into these takeaways to contribute to overcoming the challenges and achieving the required goals. On the fronts of holding businesses and institutions to account, transparency of reporting, accountability of companies in the public, private and services sectors, and adopting a zero-tolerance approach for greenwashing. Most importantly, registering climate pledges through both the CSR UAE Fund, that we have discussed in a previous article, and on the UN’s Global Climate Action Portal

On another front, the UAE is committed to the global effort of establishing a dedicated fund for loss and damage for vulnerable countries that have suffered from climate change-induced disasters. Through its CDM commitment as an RCC, the UAE is proving its significance in mobilizing financial support for developing countries to bolster their NDCs regarding mitigation, adaptation and acquiring the most advanced climate technologies. 

Regarding the nature-based climate solutions, the Mangrove Breakthrough – an integral part of COP27’s Adaptation Agenda- has been officially adopted by the UAE government. This was clearly conveyed by HE Mariam Almheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who stated:  

 “The Mangrove Breakthrough represents a significant stride towards reducing carbon emissions and preserving our planet’s natural treasures. The UAE recognises the paramount importance of mangroves in combating climate change and supporting our coastal communities, and we look forward to helping drive real on-the-ground change. I invite nations around the globe to support this unique initiative.” 

Ultimately, COP28 in the UAE, represents the perfect opportunity to pivot from climate pledges to implementation, using all possible approaches, so we can collectively reach the defined goal of limiting global warming to ~1.5 °C. 

The UAE’s Undeniable Climate Leadership 

As the United Arab Emirates leads the regional Race to Zero, we continue to enhance our economy in line with the vision of our wise leadership to adopt policies that foster sustainable practices in various sectors, especially in transport, manufacturing and agriculture. As well as adopting green infrastructure urban planning to perfect our union’s sustainable socio-economic development. 

These policies and initiatives were pinpointed during the “Road to COP28: Driving Collective Action in the UAE” event earlier this year, hosted by HE Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28. And as we create our sustainable future, the thriving business community across all sectors and company sizes are abiding by their commitments to net-zero emissions and exploiting every new inch that climate action opens on the path towards green transition. 

The fact that the UAE will establish the first-ever Education Pavilion in the history of COPs showcases the country’s efforts in leading regional and international efforts to include green education in the educational systems, as we focus on designing a new pathway to greener schools. We believe that education holds a unique position where it can build eco-conscious curriculums and schools, while taking the training of educators to the next level so they can play their role in instilling climate knowledge in the minds of learners of all ages, to prepare them from an early age for building sustainable green communities. 

Dubai is on its path to actualize the shift to implementation that was pushed to the top of the priorities list in Sharm Al Sheikh, through the non-stop efforts of the COP28 Presidency under the leadership of HE Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President-Designate for COP28, UAE. HE Dr. Al Jaber also spoke during the New York Climate Week earlier this year about the undeniable correlation between climate change and health, highlighting the lack of focus on this crucial aspect, which he plans to change during COP28, stating: “Our goal is to build resilient, equitable health systems capable of withstanding the impact of climate change.” 

Last September, HE Hamid Al Zaabi, Director General of the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing, clearly expressed that the UAE views poaching, illegal wildlife trade and trafficking as an imminent threat and a form of climate terrorism. Highlighting another front where the UAE leads the global crackdown on financial crimes funding wildlife trafficking, and worsening the biodiversity crisis. 

While the Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park (SRTIP) continues to be an active player in its mission of supporting and funding environment-friendly innovations, in fields like green transportation, sustainable infrastructure, solar power, green hydrogen energy and more.  

Earlier this year, the Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator (SAIA), has received more than 3500 submissions to its global innovative competition, the majority of which were centered around sustainability projects, energy technologies, transport logistics, environmental analysis, water technologies and beyond. 

Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi, Masdar, who has played a vital role in the country’s clean energy agenda since establishing the Abdu Dhabi Sustainability Week in 2008, continues to push forward to maintain the local, regional and global climate action momentum. 

Masdar, on its part, will host Youth 4 Sustainability forum during COP28. The company has been increasingly investing in renewable energy projects across more than 40 countries worldwide on its quest to achieve 100 gigawatts of power from renewables and to produce 1 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030. 

While the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week organization prepares a series of structured collaborative activities to be run through the “ADSW Partnership Fund” planned to be held in the Green Zone at Dubai EXPO City during COP28. Simultaneously, keeping the focus on bolstering the role of women and young girls in climate change through its WiSER Initiative

Worth noting also, is the establishment of “Surpluss”, the Online sustainability exchange, which has been officially designated as an Accelerator by the UN-backed Race to Zero. A global campaign that catalyzes climate action for non-state actors to take rigorous and immediate action to cut global emissions in half by 2030. 

We have only highlighted some of many examples of the continuous efforts the UAE is dedicating to saving the future of our planet and our offspring. 

A New Climate Financial Infrastructure 

Did you know the world needs over $2.4 Trillion yearly to meet the climate challenge? And that less than 5% of this amount gets mobilized by donor countries annually?! 

This major challenge will be addressed at COP28 this year, as the world will try through the UAE to rebuild the confidence in the climate financial infrastructure. The stakes are high, and the risks are usually unpredictable, sudden and disastrous for people’s lives, especially in developing countries. 

At COP28, the UAE is committed to bringing this challenge to center-stage so we can implement the much-needed reforms to the current financial system, direct sufficient investments to new zero-carbon energy resources, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation systems, and increase the resilience of the Global South to climate change-induced natural disasters such as heatwaves, floods, droughts, famines, or storms. 

The world needs a significant economic transformation in the caliber of the industrial revolution, and COP28 holds great importance as it would start building on the momentum of on-going initiatives, such as the French Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, the Africa Climate Summit and the Barbados Bridgetown Initiative, to deliver tangible outcomes and solutions that could save the world. 

Nfinity8 will continue to play its role of boosting climate knowledge as part of the UAE society and the global community’s journey towards a better, cleaner and greener future for all humankind. 

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