The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28) takes place 30 November – 12 December 2023 in the UAE. The financial sector plays a key role in the transition to net zero, as it can provide the capital needed to invest in the necessary infrastructure and technologies needed to reduce emissions.
In particular, financial institutions can provide the long-term financing needed to build a low-carbon economy and create the green jobs of the future. The financial service industry is uniquely placed to help guide the broader economy’s transition to a low-carbon future through the creation of new markets and products that can support the transition, such as green bonds and green investments.
Transition to a low-carbon future, or net zero, is the process of reducing and eventually eliminating emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to help avoid the worst effects of climate change. It involves transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and making changes to the way we use and produce energy. This transition can be accomplished through policy, technology, and lifestyle changes, and will require the support and indeed leadership of the financial sector.
In addition to financial institutions themselves, regulators also play a vital role in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. They are responsible for ensuring that the financial system is resilient, and that capital is allocated toward investments consistent with supporting a low-carbon economy. Financial regulators can do this by providing guidance on green finance and sustainable investments, enhancing disclosure requirements, and encouraging innovation in the development of new products, services, and markets. Additionally, regulators can help to facilitate green finance by setting standards for new technologies and products, such as green bonds.
The 2023 Swift Institute UAE Student Challenge will focus on the financial sectors role in supporting the UAE’s transition to a net zero economy. Students are invited to submit ideas, in the form of a presentation, responding to either of the following questions:
- What is the role of the financial sector in enabling the UAE’s transition to net zero? How can the financial sector raise capital to help green the UAE economy? What lessons can be learned from initiatives where the sustainable finance sector has already funded capital towards green projects and activities in the UAE or internationally?
- How can SMEs and family businesses raise capital to fund their transition to become greener? What role should UAE-based policymakers play in enabling the release of more capital from banks or other sources of finance to support SMEs and family businesses transition?