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11 December 2023

COP28 Presidency launches programme to help MENA SMEs implement net-zero strategies

Published
By WAM

The COP28 Presidency, in collaboration with the SME Climate Hub and We Mean Business Coalition, has launched a dedicated programme to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) implement net-zero strategies. COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA was developed to elevate the role of SMEs and non-state actors in the climate process and has made the SME Climate Hub available in Arabic for the first time.

COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA will allow businesses with under 500 employees to make a globally recognised climate commitment and be counted in the United Nations-backed Race to Zero campaign. It will also provide access to free tools and resources for businesses to implement emissions reduction strategies across their business, report yearly on their progress, and achieve net zero by 2050 or before.

The regional adaptation of the SME Climate Hub has been developed by the COP28 Presidency, alongside the global SME Climate Hub initiative and its founding partner, the We Mean Business Coalition. The programme is being run in partnership with Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company - Masdar, with support from First Abu Dhabi Bank and the Abu Dhabi Chamber. COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA is expected to provide benefits to thousands of SMEs across the region in the lead-up to COP28 and beyond.

Adnan Amin, CEO, COP28, said, “SMEs comprise up to 90 percent of all businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, hence they form a major part of the region’s economy and have an integral role to play in accelerating MENA’s transition to net zero. Expanding the SME Climate Hub’s regionalisation in MENA will help us to deliver the most inclusive COP to date, support SMEs with their climate goals and ensure they are a vital part of our collective efforts to keep 1.5°C within reach."

Despite the growing startup landscape, SMEs in the MENA region, like their global counterparts, face challenges such as access to finance, the rising cost of doing business, overcoming systemic inequalities, scaling digitalisation, capacity and skill building, and access to resources and networks. These challenges are amplified when the transition to sustainability is factored in.

The COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA programme will play a key role in supporting businesses in the region to retain their competitive edge in a fast-changing economy.

Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, COP28, said, “Climate action is an all-of-society mandate and endeavour. Businesses of all sizes are essential in accelerating our green transition to a net-zero, nature-positive future. At the same time, a robust climate strategy benefits companies by unlocking growth opportunities and future-proofing their businesses. The MENA SME Climate Hub will be a turning point for small and medium-sized businesses in the region to commit to a recognised climate goal, access practical tools and resources, and build business resilience.”

María Mendiluce, CEO of We Mean Business Coalition, a founding partner of the SME Climate Hub, said, “Through this expansion, the SME Climate Hub will mobilise small- and medium-sized businesses to take climate action and help build more resilient companies and communities in the MENA region. At COP28, the We Mean Business Coalition will host the Business Pavilion for Climate Leadership to ensure companies large and small are at the forefront of these crucial discussions in Dubai. We look forward to working with the COP28 Presidency and partners across business and government to drive the transformative change needed to tackle the climate crisis."

Following COP28, Masdar, with the support of First Abu Dhabi Bank, will lead the recruitment of SMEs to the SME Climate Hub for MENA to ensure continued support for regional SMEs.

Masdar CEO Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said, “We welcome the launch of the COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA campaign with its range of free tools and resources for SMEs. It will be our privilege to continue leading the expansion of this initiative after COP28 and play our part in helping as many SMEs in the region as possible in overcoming the challenges they face in their efforts to reduce emissions and achieve net-zero targets.”

Hana Al Rostamani, Group Chief Executive Officer of First Abu Dhabi Bank said, “Integrating businesses into the net zero transition is fundamental to achieving global climate goals, and SMEs must be part of this effort. The COP28 & SME Climate Hub platform allows us to bring SMEs into the centre of climate action and provides them with opportunities for growth in a low-carbon future.”

Ahmed Khalifa Al Qubaisi, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, said, "We are proud to support the launch of COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA. This programme represents a crucial step in efforts to enhance the success of SMEs while promoting sustainability and aligning with the UAE's ambitious Green Agenda 2030 and Net Zero commitments. At the Abu Dhabi Chamber, we are committed to facilitating sustainable economic growth, and we believe that the SME Climate Hub will be instrumental in driving this mission forward."

For more information on COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA and to make a climate commitment, please visit www.cop28.com/en/cop28-mena-sme-climate-hub.

COP28 will begin on 30th November in the UAE with a fortnight of negotiations, opening with commitments from global leaders, bringing forward solutions, and concluding with an agreed negotiated text that helps course-correct to keep 1.5°C within reach and enhance global resilience. The Presidency’s key focus areas are fast-tracking the energy transition and slashing emissions before 2030; transforming climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance; putting nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action and mobilising for the most inclusive COP ever.