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Over 125 delegates joined us on 4 February in Dubai at our inaugural event dedicated to sustainable finance in the MENA region.
While there hasn’t been as much deal flow of green or sustainable finance so far from the region, in comparison with Europe or Asia, there is no shortage of enthusiasm for sustainability and certainly no lack of talent or desire to transform the region’s economy into a sustainable one.
Of course the region has some unique challenges - its historic reliance on hydrocarbons and the elevated political risk that is found in some parts of it.
But the impression that speakers and delegates gave at the Forum is that it will not be long before we start to see consistent deal flow from the region - whether in conventional or Islamic finance form - and we will start to see the region’s investor base play a much bigger role in buying international green or sustainable finance.
All the building blocks are in place - governments are increasingly committed to sustainability, as evidenced by the creation of ministerial-level committees, working groups and sponsorship of sustainable projects, whether they be sustainable cities, renewable power or social projects around training, education and employment, for example.
Meanwhile, most of the local banks are on board and many of those that have not issued green or sustainable debt so far are setting up sustainability-linked programmes.
The international banks, having seen the flourishing of green or sustainability markets in Europe, Asia and to some extent in North America, are keen to help it flourish here in MENA, keen to service their clients and build out their own sustainability expertise.
Local companies, as we heard earlier from John Arentz at Majid Al Futtaim, are finding that “what is your sustainability strategy?” is the first question they are being asked when talking to local and international investors. So they are being forced to change the way they approach markets, but crucially also how they conduct their own business and operations.
So the sustainability penny has dropped in the MENA region. As Sabrin Rahman from HSBC mentioned, “this is the future, there is no denying it”. Maybe, as Raji Hattar from Aramex said, we need “more stick and less carrot” to make it happen. Transition bonds will surely play a part in this region as Sam Mirza from Standard Chartered Bank argued.
On this positive note, Euromoney would like to thank all of our sponsors, speakers and delegates, without whom the event would not be possible. In particular our thanks go to the DIFC, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. We look forward to welcoming you next year at what is sure to be a bigger and even more popular event as the concept of sustainability and the role of sustainable finance embed even further into the region.
For sponsorship enquiries for 2021, please contact Victoria Behn: email@example.com
For all speaking enquiries for our sustainable finance events, please contact Sara Leech: firstname.lastname@example.org