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Thu 23 Jan 2020 12:13 PM

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Middle East is 'beacon' for pushing sustainability agenda

Ahmed Ismail, CEO of MAF Properties praises collective action of governments and private sector

Middle East is 'beacon' for pushing sustainability agenda

City Centre Mirdif was the first 'green mall' in the region.

The Middle East is leading the way when it comes to setting the sustainability agenda, according to Ahmed Ismail, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties.

While teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg this week slammed world leaders for doing “basically nothing” to reduce carbon emissions, Ismail said that certainly did not apply to governments in this region.

Thunberg and Ismail are both attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, where sustainability has been high on the agenda among some of the most powerful leaders on the planet.

MAF is one of 100 global strategic partners for the forum at the luxury Swiss resort.

Ismail told Arabian Business: “Many of the governments in the Middle East are really beacons in terms of progressiveness of the sustainability agenda to the world.

“What’s also very unique about our part of the world is that collective action that brings the government as well as the private sector together to tackle some of these critical issues around sustainability, wellbeing and mobility in our cities.”

In 2017 MAF committed to become the first Middle Eastern company to adopt a net positive sustainability strategy.

The strategy aims to significantly reduce the company’s water consumption and carbon emissions to the extent that it puts more back into the environment than it takes out, resulting in a positive corporate footprint by 2040.

According to statistics from Middle East Energy, there are over $100 billion worth of clean energy projects in the pipeline in the region, while total investment in clean energy is expected to exceed $300bn by 2050 – Dubai alone aims to achieve 75 percent clean energy by 2050.

The UAE aims to have 50 percent of its energy produced by carbon-free sources by 2050 and Saudi is looking to install 58.7GW of renewable energy by 2030.

While Ismail concedes that more can be done to tackle the problem, he is happy to see it at the forefront of discussions.

“Buildings cause nearly 39 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions and cities produce 60 percent of global emissions, consume nearly 80 percent of the world’s energy, which at a time when finally humanity has crossed the 50 percent threshold of urbanisation, creates a tremendous challenge,” he said.

“Moreso in our part of the world because urbanisation is already very high. Most of the people in the Gulf and certainly in Egypt today live in cities. Sustainability is at the forefront of those discussions.”

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