Dubai, UAE: The Year of Sustainability in the UAE witnessed the celebration of a significant milestone when the 10th Arabia CSR Forum was convened by the Arabia CSR Network on October 3-4 under the patronage of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment at Hotel Anantara Downtown in Dubai, UAE.
Under the overarching theme of ‘Unlocking Sustainable Transformation: Breaking Barriers, Creating Solutions’, the two-day forum hosted a series of inspiring keynote addresses and panel discussions. Participants from outside the UAE attended the event virtually and the event also offered simultaneous language translation to benefit audiences comprising diverse nationalities.
Established in 2010, the Arabia CSR Forum is a biennial gathering that unites experts, visionaries, policymakers, industry professionals, educators, youth and media.
As one of the most acclaimed regional events of its kind in the Arab world, the 10th edition of the Forum delved into innovative approaches to pave the way for lasting change in the sustainability landscape. The vibrant platform brought together renowned intellectuals from a variety of domains and facilitated insightful conversations on pressing issues impacting the region and the planet.
The carefully curated agenda explored diverse dimensions of sustainable development, encompassing finance, technology, entrepreneurship, environment, society, youth and collaboration to empower attendees to drive positive change within their organisations and beyond, and contribute towards fulfilling the goals laid out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In her welcome address, Habiba Al Ma’rashi, Founder, President, and CEO of Arabia CSR Network, said: “In the contemporary landscape, where climate-induced challenges significantly jeopardise businesses, adopting a passive approach no longer stands as a financially sound long-term strategy. It is imperative to actively engage with stakeholders and possess an in-depth comprehension of each organisation's distinct requirements. This enables the creation of resilient models that effectively synchronise sustainability endeavours with overarching business strategies. Scheduled prior to COP28 in the UAE, the 10th Arabia CSR Forum has assembled preeminent intellectuals. The objective is to cultivate collaboration and strive for inventive solutions to address global challenges and spearhead initiatives that bridge the divide between lofty aspirations and tangible actions.”
The two-day event saw Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), United Nations; Dr. Dena Assaf, United Nations Resident Coordinator, UAE; and Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmed El-Etreby, Chairman, Union of Arab Banks, Federation of Egyptian Banks and Banque Misr, deliver keynote speeches focused on the topic, ‘Charting Inclusivity: A Balanced Enviro-Socioeconomic Landscape’.
A compelling agenda led by eminent speakers was curated for the five plenary sessions, offering a robust framework for businesses and economies to transition effectively towards a net-zero future. The plenary sessions were held under the themes, ‘Navigating the Path to Net Zero: Climate Challenges and Opportunities in MENA’; ‘Tech for Tomorrow: Disruptive Innovations in Sustainable Development’; ‘Redefining the Future: Youth Activism & Social Cohesion for Sustainable Development’; ‘Scaling Up Sustainable Finance: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities’; and ‘Beyond Silos: Breaking Down Barriers through Partnerships & Collaboration’.
A host of experts from different Arab countries shed light on the obstacles, opportunities and best practices implemented in the region that complemented the main theme of the Forum and the underlying topics of the plenary sessions. Amongst the dignitaries who spoke at the event included Dr. Nasser H. Saidi, President of Nasser Saidi & Associates; Marwa Al Awadhi, Head of Awareness and Rationalisation of Consumption Section, UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; H.E. Fatema Al Marzooqi, Executive Director, Community Engagement and Volunteering Sector, Authority of Social Contribution – Ma’an; and Eng. Faisal Ali Rashid, Senior Director, Demand Side Management, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.
Other industry professionals who shared their insights on shaping a sustainable future includes Dr. Yousef Al Assaf, President of Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai Campus; Dr. Ashraf Gamal, CEO, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance; Eugene Mayne, Group CEO, Tristar; Abdallah Massaad, Group CEO, RAK Ceramics; Ali Makki, Group CEO, Kilimanjaro Energy; Karl W. Feilder, Founder, CEO & Chairman, Neutral Fuels; Saeed Al Abbar, Founder and CEO of AESG Specialist Consultancy; and Mohammad Asfour, Global Green Strategist & Former Head, MENA & Africa Networks, World Green Building Council.
Amongst other speakers at the forum were Dina Storey, Subject-Matter Expert Climate Change and Sustainability/Former Director of Sustainability Operations, Expo 2020 Dubai; Latha Ekambaram, Chemicals Industry Expert in Business Growth Transformation & Strategy; Hanan Abbas, Sustainabilist, Specialist in Community Welfare & Social Development; Anni Mazagobian Abu Hanna, Executive Director, Al Hussein Society; and Jaber Sulaiman Al Busaidi, Executive Manager, Jusoor Foundation.
The 10th Arabia CSR Forum was sponsored by Tristar, Al Sayer Group and McDonald’s UAE. In line with its environmental ethos, the event was designated as a carbon neutral event in collaboration with FARNEK. This initiative effectively offset any emissions resulting from transportation or associated activities.
More than just a platform for discussions, the Forum also served as a networking opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and organisation from both the private and public sectors, and was attended by youth from colleges and universities in the UAE. In the lead up to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in the UAE, the 10th cycle of the Forum set the stage for individuals with shared values from diverse sectors to converge, brainstorm ideas and exert influence on the global climate discourse.
About the Arabia CSR Network
The Arabia CSR Network is a professional multi stakeholder organisation established in the UAE in 2004. It is devoted to advancing the principles and practices of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in the Arab Region. It facilitates networking, learning and sharing experiences and knowledge in matters of CSR and Sustainability. The Arabia CSR Network was the first GRI certified training partner for the Arabic speaking Middle East countries. The Arabia CSR Network promotes, encourages and recognises responsible business practices through a bunch of services and offerings, including trainings, research and best practice, advisory services, third party assurance and a Pan-Arab acclaimed award initiative known as the Arabia CSR Awards as well as a biennial intellectual platform to discuss on the latest in the sustainability arena known as the Arabia CSR Forum.
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