Transitioning towards a green economy
For the first time in the survey's history, the World Economic Forum report 2020 “Nature Risk Rising” stated that the 5 biggest global risks in 2020 were all environmental, with extreme weather events, human-made environmental damage and disasters, and major biodiversity loss and natural disasters all the likeliest risks. The outcome of the report emphasizes the need for a collaboration between businesses and policymakers to stop severe threats to the climate, environment, public health and technology systems, one important way of such collaboration is the transitioning to a green economy.
The term “green economy” has undoubtedly become a buzzword amongst sustainability advocates as of late – but what exactly does the term denote? A green economy, by definition, is one that is low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. Within a green economy, prosperity is driven by public and private investment into a wide range of economic activities. These include infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, solutions which deliver enhanced energy and resource efficiency, as well as initiatives which protect the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
Over the years, we have observed companies grow increasingly more aware of the need to reduce their carbon emissions whilst becoming active contributors to climate action. Climate mitigation is vital for the future stability of business operations; the greatest risk for businesses is to act complacently and do nothing. The concept of green economy has been gaining traction as one option to mitigate effects of climate change, promising businesses significant returns on investment. Businesses can accelerate this transition by aligning their investments with climate change adaption and mitigation opportunities, and by extension, the green economy.
The transition towards a green economy is well underway in the UAE, as our leadership realized its importance and launched a number of related policies and regulations; in January 2012, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Green Economy initiative under the slogan: A green economy for sustainable development. Under this initiative, the UAE seeks to become a global hub and a successful model of the new green economy, to enhance the country's competitiveness and sustainability and preserve its environment for future generations.
In 2015, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. Dubai’s efforts sit within the UAE’s plans to invest US$163 billion to boost its use of alternative energy over the next three decades. This, in return, is planned to increase renewable energy’s share of UAE consumption from 25 per cent to 44 per cent by 2050. The country is also striving to increase energy efficiency by 40 per cent over the same period. . Taking ambitious action now will allow companies stay ahead of future policies and regulations to limit GHG emissions.
In 2017, the UAE launched the National Climate Change Plan which outlines the nation’s comprehensive framework to address the causes and impacts of climate change, plan the transition into a climate resilient green economy and achieve a better quality of life. According to the plan, this will be achieved through managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while sustaining economic growth, increasing climate resilience by minimizing risks and improving adaptive capacity. The outputs of the plan are also thought to help in advancing the UAE’s economic diversification agenda through innovative solutions.
While the government policies and regulations are paving the way for the transitioning towards a green economy, it is the businesses role to take ambitious action now to help the nation achieve its climate goals, by doing this, companies will allow themselves to stay ahead of future policies and regulations to limit GHG emissions. Companies that are seen as leaders in this area are better able to influence policymakers to help shape developing legislations.
To support businesses in their journey towards a green economy, Emirates Nature-WWF has launched its Target Climate initiative in partnership with The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, HSBC Bank, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and Dubai Chamber. The initiative aims to advance capacity across the private sector in supporting the transformation towards low carbon development in the UAE as per the national climate change plan.
By working side-by-side with policymakers, Emirates Nature-WWF will drive businesses and the community to pursue the UAE green economy opportunity. The initiative will offer UAE businesses the opportunity to become leaders in this fast-growing sector with free access to global expertise, local knowledge, exclusive training events and valuable resources.
A green economy is the way for businesses to prosper, reduce risk, build resilience, and secure their place in the new global marketplace.