21 June 2023, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and PwC Middle East join forces to brief private sector entities on why COP28 in the United Arab Emirates is a watershed moment for involving businesses in the region and around the world in the climate talks.

The UNITAR-PwC interactive training session at the PwC’s Dubai Experience Center on 21 June 2023 supported attendees’ understanding of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of the Parties (COP) with a view to strengthening their participation at the upcoming 28th COP in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November until 12 December 2023.

The COP, which brings together thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, academia, science and non-governmental institutions has become the leading global gathering of actors with a mission to address climate challenges worldwide. Understanding what is happening at each COP is difficult due to the complexities and multi-sectoral nature of climate change, its causes and its solutions. With a good road map and inside knowledge of the playing field, however, private sector entities can attend and make the most of the highly dynamic environment to learn, connect, and seize opportunities.

Dr. Yahya Anouti, Partner at Strategy& Energy, Resources and Sustainability practice and ESG Leader at PwC Middle East, delivered an inspiring introduction on behalf of PwC, highlighting the region's remarkable competitive advantage in spearheading transformative change towards sustainability. He expressed, "With only six months remaining until COP28, our region possesses a truly exceptional competitive advantage to lead the way in sustainable development. The UAE will soon host global political leaders, CEOs, and innovators, providing an unparalleled opportunity for them to join us in the green renaissance that our region is embarking upon. Whether it's revolutionising the hydrogen economy, fostering green manufacturing, or driving climate innovation, this is the epicenter of progress. However, capturing the immense potential of this milestone necessitates early planning, and we are fully committed to enabling and maximising its impact."

In addition to the insightful presentations, the training session included panel discussions featuring notable speakers such as James Thomas, Partner from Strategy& Energy, Resources & Sustainability practise, Ana Maria Kleymeyer International Law and Policy Advisor, Sherif Tawfik, Chief Sustainability Commercial Officer at Microsoft CEMEA, Adele Guidot, UAE programme lead from UN Global Compact, and Dimitra Theodoropulos,  Director of Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility at Talabat. The discussions focused on the opportunities for businesses and activating their climate agenda at COP28.

Recent statistics from PwC’s 2023 ESG in the Middle East survey underscore the increasing maturity in the region's thinking around ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and the progress of Middle East businesses in this area. The survey reveals that 64% of respondents adopted a formal ESG strategy in the last 12 months, with many embedding ESG priorities across their organisations. Notably, the percentage of companies without any ESG strategies dropped from 16% in the previous year to 7%. The survey also highlights the growing significance of sustainability roles within organisations, with 27% of companies now having a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in place, responsible for ESG in almost half of those companies.

Highlighting the expectations of businesses regarding COP28, the survey revealed that 60% of companies want their leadership to allocate more time to ESG-related issues, particularly focusing on risk management, compliance, and leveraging the circular economy.

The UNITAR keynote was delivered by renowned International Law and Environmental Policy Advisor and dedicated Senior UNITAR Consultant Ana Maria Kleymeyer, who provided a broad spectrum of information ranging from the primary actors and issues involved in the official negotiations to the parallel events and opportunities taking place in the adjoining areas of the COP venue.

The event’s content also dived into details of the negotiations of relevance and interest to the private sector, such as the potential implications of the current technical and political decision-making processes around financing, technology development, mitigation and adaptation). Discussions also centered around expectations for the legacy of COP28, what this look might like and concluded with ways in which companies can take action on their climate agenda now, to really make a difference in the six-month countdown to COPs.

UNITAR's Division for Multilateral Diplomacy established its expertise in addressing environmental multilateral issues through a wide range of initiatives and has successfully trained executives, policymakers and representatives on topics related to climate change negotiations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Private sector entities in Geneva and around the world are increasingly benefitting from the expertise that UNITAR provides in the field of sustainability, climate change, ESG and CRS.

UNITAR covers a wide range of transferable skills for the private sector, which include customized training and advisory services on:

  • Private Sector Contributions to COPs and Climate Change Diplomacy
  • Implementation of the SDGs by the Corporate Sector
  • ESG Reporting and CSR
  • Soft Skills in Multilateral Environments
  • Engaging and Partnering with the United Nations
  • Business Protocol and Etiquette in a Global World
  • Cyber Security and Crises Management in the Digital Space
  • Blockchain Technology, AI and NFTs

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