Under the Patronage of
Pathways to Accelerating Implementation
January 09, 2024
Journey to a Sustainable Future
At this crucial juncture for climate action, Sustainability Forum Middle East will bring together senior decision-makers and climate experts to engage and discuss regional decarbonization goals and solutions to help businesses, including SMEs, mobilize, plan for and embark on their net-zero journeys.
Business Transition to Net-Zero
MENA’s Path Towards a Successful Low-Carbon Future
The Forum’s second edition
will again feature
500+ Sustainability, climate and business leaders from the Middle East, Africa and Europe
Multiple workshops supporting practical hands-on learning
30+ Expert speakers
Sustainability Forum Middle East is a regional platform for promoting understanding and driving climate action on the part of the private sector, whose embracing of sustainability and decarbonisation is critical to the meeting of net-zero ambitions of the MENA countries. It consists of an annual Forum and a series of high-level roundtables held across the region throughout the year that delve into critical subjects in the drive towards decarbonisation of the MENA economies.
Now in its second edition, this year’s Forum will focus on highlighting solutions for accelerating regional decarbonisation through the facilitation of dialogue and cooperation and hands on learning.
The Forum will once again feature a number of keynote addresses from leading climate and sustainability experts and panels made up of government and business leaders.. Together, they will examine national and regional net-zero commitments r and the pathways to in achieving them.
The Forum takes a holistic approach to highlighting the urgent need for business leaders not simply to announce net-zero and sustainability strategies but to take concrete steps to accelerate their implementation.
The event will feature a series of keynote addresses, engaging panel discussions, and interactive hands-on workshops. These sessions will focus on inspiring companies from various sectors to embrace sustainability as a core principle within their operations. Attendees will gain insights into crafting strategies that prioritize sustainability, foster innovation, and help them transition their organizations toward eco-friendly business models.
The Forum once again expects to attract participation from more than 500 government and business leaders from the region and international sustainability experts to discuss and showcase decarbonisation efforts and what more can be done collectively to support regional companies in making the transition to net zero.
We have a dynamic and engaging agenda focusing on key topics intrinsic to the transition of businesses and the regional economies towards a net-zero future.
Location: Downtown Rotana Hotel, Manama
Demystifying the Decarbonisation Journey
This session aims to give attendees a better understanding of the implications of climate change, decarbonisation and the net-zero ambitions of the region. A team of sustainability experts will be on hand to help participants gain greater insights into how decarbonisation will impact their businesses and what are some of the opportunities that can be leveraged within the marketplace. Specifically, the session will look at global and local commitments, climate risk and decarbonization strategies: challenges and opportunities, key steps toward low-carbon and net-zero operations and five pillars to achieving net-zero.
Location: BIBF, Bahrain Bay
Fundamentals of Sustainable Development and Net-Zero Transitioning
This session will cover the fundamentals of “sustainable development” and its significance with an emphasis on ESG and the transition towards net zero. The benefits and the heightened sense of urgency associated with changing the mindset and culture of a corporation will be highlighted. The session will also look at the principles behind how businesses can “do well while doing good” by internalizing the commitment to the sustainable development goals to re-engineer “how” business is carried out. In addition to discussing developments on a global and regional scale, the workshop will investigate the connection between resilience, sustainability, and business growth and expansion.
Welcome Reception Hosted by
Registration & Networking
Business Transition to Net-Zero: The Urgency and MENA’s Path Towards a Low- Carbon Future
Net-Zero Ambitions in the MENA Region
The session will look at where Middle Eastern economies are today, discuss the various ambitions and targets announced by key actors and whether these ambitions and commitments are too ambitious or not enough. Panelists will review the outcomes of the recently held COP27 in Egypt and the road ahead to COP28 in the UAE. They will discuss the greatest challenges facing regional economies in making the transition as well as the essential collaborations required to achieve greater alignment and the meeting of net-zero targets.
The Financial Sector and Funding the Transition
In light of the significant investment and financing required for the region’s decarbonisation, this panel will examine the critical role that financial institutions need to play in driving and funding change and helping governments and businesses across the region achieve their net-zero targets. Specifically, experts will discuss the leadership role that banks must play, trends in sustainable financing, the use of green financing instruments and notables success stories from the region. They will also address what more regional and international banks operating in MENA can do to support decarbonisation efforts and channel greater funding towards pro-climate businesses and projects.
Energy Transition and the Integration of Renewables
The session will look at the unique circumstance of Middle East economies in global energy transition. The region is not only exposed heavily to the severe impacts of climate change, like other parts of the world, but also economic costs resulting from global decarbonation as some of the biggest producers and exporters of oil and gas. The panel will discuss the strategies and actions on the part of major regional producers and governments to support energy transition and remain leaders in a low-carbon energy future. It will also look at current approaches and examples of what key actors are doing in terms of investing in and leveraging their existing know-how in order to accelerate the development of clean and alternative energy sources and technologies both at home and around the world.
Valuation Premiums for Emissions Reduction
With an increasing number of corporates setting emissions reduction targets and taking steps to decarbonise their businesses, the session will feature a presentation on how markets are valuing and rewarding these efforts. The focus will be on recently carried out research and empirical evidence that suggests a valuation premium is starting to emerge for low emissions and for delivering emissions reductions over time across geographies and emissive sectors such as Materials, Energy, Industrials, Consumer Staples, and Healthcare. The session aims to give attendees insight on investor and market sentiment and the positive impact that tangible action on decarbonisation can have for a company’s valuation.
Evolution of Climate Regulation and What’s Needed
The session will provide an overview of the evolving landscape for climate-related legal and financial regulation. Experts will look at global examples and where the MENA markets are today assessing how law and regulations can help support and accelerate the realisation of net-zero goals. Also in focus will be the impact on companies of new laws as governments and regulators develop policies to support and enforce net-zero action. They will discuss what this means for senior leadership and boards, changes in compliance and how to ensure meaningful progress in their net-zero journeys.
Decarbonising Infrastructure Development – Progress and Challenges for the Region
With construction one of the highest of all industries in terms of global emissions, a move towards lower- carbon infrastructure development is essential to the region’s decarbonisation and the realisation of net- zero ambitions. The session will look at the evolution of the industry in the region and globally with panelists sharing insights on MENA-based developers and the adoption of sustainable, low-carbon materials and progress on energy and resource efficiency. They will highlight best practices and regional success stories covering residential and urban development and other infrastructure while also addressing challenges facing the industry as it transitions towards net-zero.
How to Develop an Enterprise Wide ESG Strategy with an Effective Net-Zero Focus
The session aims to be a learning opportunity for attendees to find out more about how to develop an enterprise wide ESG Strategy and include a focus on bringing climate action into the heart of their businesses and operations. While many larger companies have already developed their ESG Strategy and in particular their Net-Zero focus, and have started the complex process of transitioning, many others, including most SMEs, have yet to formulate a business wide ESG strategy or considered initiatives to fully understand and plan for the necessary changes required to decarbonise and create more effective, efficient and profitable businesses that are future-proof. The session will share insights on how to develop a business wide ESG Strategy and to prepare for, launch and measure their own net- zero journeys and progress along the way.
What Net-Zero Means for Banks and How to Start Their Decarbonisation Journeys
The session focuses on supporting regional banks in clearly understanding the implications of net-zero, what it means for their business and their customers and how they can begin to plan for and launch their net-zero journeys. The session will cover and explore important themes including an introduction on net zero understood from a financial markets’ perspective, what are net zero pathways and how does this feed into targets for banks, getting started – establishing a baseline, scope 1 / 2 and 3 emissions and communicating targets, how banks can leverage net zero for business growth and innovation and what does COP28, to be held in the UAE in 2023, mean for MENA’s banks.
Sustainability Forum Middle East is supported by a senior Advisory Committee of regional business leaders and sustainability experts to help guide the development of the Forum’s annual calendar of decarbonisation focused events.
Eng. Layla Sabeel
Head of Environmental Planning
Supreme Council for Environment
Kingdom of Bahrain
Eng. Layla Sabeel's Biography
Eng. Layla Sabeel has extensive experience in environmental public policies as well as climate change, she is Bahrain’s national focal point for UNFCCC, leading Bahrain’s negotiation team focusing on various agenda items including article 6, adaptation, mitigation work program, finance and loss and damage.
She is working on various adaptation projects such as: the national adaptation investment plan, focusing on creative climate finance instruments to fund adaptation projects and sea level rise resilience plan for the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Eng. Sabeel is also working on planning the emission reduction targets activities to reach the emission targets set by HRH the crown prince and the prime minister to reduce emission 30% by 2035 and reach net zero by 2060.
Chief Executive Oﬃcer
Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company
Riham Elgizy's Biography
Riham ElGizy has over 20 years of international experience dedicated to impact-related investments through her extensive work as a leader in mergers and acquisitions, as well as strategy and business development experience. She was formerly head of Saudi Aramco’s Investment valuations and structuring, the function responsible for advising and formulating investment decisions for corporate and executive management, as well as government institutions. Prior to joining Saudi Aramco, she spent 16 years with BP in North America and North Africa.
ElGizy has a track record in originating and executing energy, clean technology, and renewable energy transactions across the globe. She has advised strategy and investment boards and led negotiations with governments and privately held institutions.
ElGizy is a Sloan fellow MBA (MIT Sloan School of Management) and during her time at MIT, she worked on projects promoting sustainable economic growth in emerging markets through the deployment of innovative technology solutions and climate change simulations.
She is currently CEO of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM). In her role at the helm of the VCM, she has launched the first voluntary carbon market in the MENA region and led the single largest voluntary carbon market auction to ever take place.
Group Chief Sustainability Oﬃcer
Gulf International Bank
Venetia Bell's Biography
Venetia Bell is the Group Chief Sustainability Officer at Gulf International Bank (GIB), and Head of Strategy at GIB Asset Management. Amongst other responsibilities, Venetia leads GIB’s drive to embed sustainability and responsible banking principles in everything it does. In 2021, she was instrumental in the successful close of GIB’s sustainability-linked loan, making GIB the first Bahrain-headquartered bank to close such a facility. She also led an award-winning multi-stakeholder initiative to enhance data and funnel private capital towards humanitarian and resilience projects.
Venetia is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a fellow of the Forward Institute, faculty for the Competent Boards Programme, and an alumna of the Mentoring Foundation. Venetia is the Deputy Chair of the Bahrain Association of Banks Sustainable Development Committee. She is a Chartered Governance Professional, a designated Climate Competent Director, a Certified Investment Fund Director, and the Chair of Trustees of several charities.
Prior to GIB, she had several roles at the Bank of England, and has published a range of policy-focused research. Venetia graduated with an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and an MA degree in Economics from the University of Cambridge, UK.
MENA Sustainable Finance Leader
Jessica Robinson's Biography
Jessica Robinson is a global expert in ESG and sustainable finance, advising financial institutions, institutional investors, think tanks, governments and regulators on a broad range of issues relating to ESG strategy, sustainable finance and responsible investment, as well as carbon, climate and gender finance. Based in the Middle East, Jessica is responsible for leading related engagements across the financial industry – in particular, she delivers projects on ESG strategy, risk and governance as well as focusing on specific areas including net zero transition plans and carbon strategies.
Recent client engagements include supporting a leading GCC bank on developing its ESG strategy and implementation roadmap in alignment with the KSA’s Vision 2030 and net zero commitments; working with a regional financial regulator in developing sustainable finance frameworks and policies; acting as a technical advisor to a government funded research project on sustainable investing; and supporting a Middle East financial services company in defining its ESG vision, ambition and strategic roadmap.
Jessica has an extensive background in consulting and professional services, specializing in the financial services and investment industries, with a particular focus on ESG and sustainability. In addition, previous roles include Head of Asia for the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UN-PRI), following a long stint as Chief Executive and Board Director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA), one of Asia’s leading think tanks working to promote sustainable finance and responsible investment. She also led the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change – representing large investors on climate risk – and played an active leadership role in the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) and the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (GIC).
She frequently contributes articles, authors reports and speaks at conferences on issues related to ESG and sustainable finance, related market and regulatory developments, climate and carbon finance policy. She also recently published her first book on sustainable investing, ‘Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide To Investing For a Sustainable Future’.
Jessica has lived and worked in the UK, North America, Asia (China and Hong Kong) and is now based in the UAE. She holds an MSc in Applied Environmental Economics from the University of London, an MSc in Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA in Economics from the University of Manchester, UK. She also holds a Professional Diploma in Financial Management from the ACCA and the FT Post-Graduate Diploma for Non-Executive Directors.
As MENA Sustainable Finance Leader, Jessica is responsible for leading engagements across the financial industry on sustainable finance and ESG. She works with clients on ESG strategy, risk and governance as well as focusing on net zero transition plans and carbon finance strategies.
Having been based in the Middle East for the last five years, she has also lived and worked in Asia, New York and London and has an extensive background in consulting and professional services. In other roles Jessica worked for a leading regulator on sustainable finance initiatives as well as a range of government and policy related organizations on ESG and climate matters.
She frequently contributes articles, authors reports and speaks at conferences on issues related to ESG. She holds two Masters Degrees and a Bachelor Degree on Economics and Politics, and recently published a book on sustainable investing.
Abdullah Saeed Al Jubran
Executive Vice President
Abdullah Saeed Al Jubran's Biography
Abdullah Saeed Al Jubran is a highly accomplished senior executive with over 25 years of experience in financial, strategic, and operational leadership. He excels in turnaround management and high-paced organizations, driving organizational improvements and implementing best practices. Abdullah’s expertise includes strategy development, profitability analysis, contract negotiations, and government relations. He has held prominent positions as Chairman and Board Member in prestigious organizations. Currently, he serves as the Portfolio Management Executive Vice President at ACWA Power, overseeing more than $10 billion portfolio in the Gulf region.
Group Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer
Red Sea Global
Raed Albasseet's Biography
Raed is the Group Chief Environment & Sustainability Officer of the Red Sea Global (RSG), with over 25 years of experience in environmental and sustainability strategies, project management, policy design, and advocacy. Raed leads and oversees the environment and sustainability functions for the Red Sea Project, AMAALA, and all RSG portfolio projects across the Red Sea.
Raed is a member of the board of the General Organization for Conservation of Coral Reefs and Turtles in the Red Sea, established pursuant to Cabinet Resolution No. (250) dated 04/25/1443 AH. Raed has worked in a number of renowned regional and global entities, including Saudi Aramco and Vela International Marine.
At Saudi Aramco, Raed worked as an International Environmental Policies and Regulatory Lead, representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Paris Agreement, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Prior to working at Saudi Aramco, Raed was the Head of Pollution & Environmental Engineering at Vela International Marine an Aramco subsidiary which is one of the largest provider of Maritime Services in the world and is established as Saudi Arabia’s National Shipping Carrier. He has also represented Vela in the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea & Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) and supported the Ministry of Energy on International Maritime Organization technical safety and environmental regulations and was also the Vice Chair of the Climate Change Working Group of the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).
Raed is a graduate of the World Maritime University in Sweden, where he earned a Master’s of Science in Safety and Environmental Administration. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Solent University in the United Kingdom.
Raed is an environmental and sustainability leader and he is motivated to continuously improve Kingdom’s efforts and measures towards realizing our ambition of being the world leader in environment and sustainability across planning, construction, and operations. He believes that we can always develop and move the profession forward by setting new standards in sustainable development to inspire other destinations and ensure the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the natural environment.
Chief Sustainability Officer
Ian McCallum's Biography
Ian is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Bank ABC, leading the bank’s journey to integrate sustainability throughout the bank’s global value chain that covers 15 different jurisdictions. He has over 17 years implementing sustainability within asset management and banking, having worked in London, Asia and Turkey. This has involved developing sustainability strategies and integrating sustainability into global investment processes. His extensive work experience includes being a founder of a global asset management firm, building up the firm’s institutional investor client base and managing top quartile performing global and emerging markets investment strategies. Prior to Bank ABC, Ian worked at Citigroup helping to embed environmental risk across their European corporate banking business. Ian is a Fellow of the Charted Association of Certified Accountants and has a BA (Hons) in Accountancy & Finance from Heriot-Watt University.
Laila Danesh's Biography
Laila is a senior communications strategist with more than two decades of experience advising clients across international markets including the US, Europe and Middle East. She is financial PR and media specialist, who has worked with a broad range of financial institutions, listed companies across sectors, sovereign funds, family offices and government organisations on building and managing their brands, reputations and relationships with multiple stakeholders.
Her strengths lie in helping clients develop impactful cross-border communications strategies, compelling brand and value propositions, clear and powerful content and effective outreach campaigns targeting the financial media and investment community. Adding to her areas of specialization, Laila also supports clients on their Climate-related and ESG strategies and communications. She has recently completed a Post-Graduate Certification from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in Business and Climate Change – Transition Towards Net-Zero.
Laila co-founded FinMark Communications, a specialist financial and corporate PR agency based in Bahrain and London, in 2010 with the firm focused on helping clients communicate into, across and out from the GCC-region. Prior to establishing FinMark, Laila spent 10 years at Financial Dynamics (now FTI Consulting), a leading City of London and international financial PR agency. She joined the firm in 1999 at its New York offices, established its Middle East operations in 2003, marking the launch of the region’s first specialist financial PR company, and went on to work in the firm’s London based developing markets practice between 2007 until 2009.
Laila holds a Master’s Degree in Middle East Area Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a minor in International Relations from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
Head of Markets, Director
Advisory services – ESG, KPMG, Bahrain
Kal Subramanian's Biography
Kal is the Head of Markets for KPMG in Bahrain, and is also a Director with KPMG’s Advisory Team specializing in ESG, People and Change Management related advisory services. With almost 20 years with KPMG, Kal has worked with KPMG’s International Headquarters for over 16 years, and has significant experience in the field of ESG, Sustainability, Inclusion & Diversity, People Strategy, and People engagement; while also having supported clients in developing competency frameworks, talent management strategies, and in facilitating psychometric assessments to support leadership development. Kal has also led KPMG’s global, regional and national relationships with not-for profits including Junior Achievement, Enactus, One Young World, the Pearl Initiative, and INJAZ Bahrain. At a MENA level Kal is the sponsor representative for KPMG in Bahrain in their role as the Knowledge Partner for ‘Diversity on Boards’, and provides support in training and mentoring emerging board leaders across the region. He has worked with clients across the Financial Services, Oil & Gas/ Energy, Retail, FMCG, Construction and Real Estate sectors; and has a specialization in working with the not-for profit/ development sectors with particular alignment to the UN SDGs.
Climate Change Expert
Directorate of Climate Change
Department of Carbon Pricing
Ministry of Environment
Urbanization and Climate Change
Republic of Türkiye
Okan Ugurlu's Biography
Graduated from the department of Public Administration from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Türkiye. As a Climate Change Expert he has 6 year professional experience in the Republic of Türkiye, Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change on climate change related topics.
His first department in charge is the Climate Negotiations and International Policies. In the department he followed the international climate policies and developments, participated international meetings and negotiations.
Afterwards, he worked in the Monitoring GHG Emissions Department which is the base of Emission Trading System, and focused the Emission Trading System related topics. The department according to the scope that is defined in the related regulation, follows the GHG emissions of around 700 installations in the country.
Currently he is working in the Directorate of Climate Change, Department of Carbon Pricing which is the main responsible body in Türkiye establishing carbon pricing mechanisms, enhance voluntary carbon markets and international carbon markets including conducting Paris Agreement Article 6 negotiations. His main duties focus on the establishment of national Emission Trading System in Türkiye.
The Forum will feature a world-class line up of speakers to share knowledge and insights and stimulate an interactive day of exchange on a diverse range of topics driving and shaping region’s journey to net zero.
We have a dynamic and engaging agenda focusing on key topics intrinsic to the transition of businesses and the regional economies towards a net-zero future.
Sustainability Forum Middle East
Achieving Net Zero – Pathways to Accelerating Implementation.
January 09, 2024