DIFC Encourages Corporations to Adopt More Sustainability Practices through its CSR Workshop



Held under the patronage of His Excellency Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) hosted its inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) workshop. The workshop discussed sustainability practices of different corporates in the UAE and the region, showcasing a number of successful initiatives. Attended by senior executives from companies within DIFC and the wider UAE community, the high-level discussions aimed to encourage corporates to embed CSR and sustainability practices within their business strategies.

In his welcome address, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “This event reflects the strong commitment shared by DIFC and its community towards social responsibility. We, at DIFC, believe that sustainability practices are necessary to maintain a healthy business environment for social and economic growth. We are committed to stimulating the CSR debate, particularly in the financial and corporate sectors, and utilising the presence of internationally renowned institutions to bring best CSR practice to the UAE and the wider region.”

Speaking on behalf of His Excellency Dr Bin Fahad, Abdelrahim Mohamed Al Hammadi, Assistant Undersecretary, Support Services, Ministry of Environment and Water, highlighted the increasing prominence of corporate responsibility within the international business community. “CSR should not be limited to charitable contributions, or certain commitments to enforced legislations and environmental sustainability standards. Companies should adopt CSR as a key element of their long-term business strategies, and monitor their effect on the economy, society and environment in accordance with the ten principles set forth by the United Nations Global Compact,” Al Hammadi said.

The institute for corporate governance, Hawkamah, delivered the first presentation in the workshop, highlighting the S&P/Hawkamah ESG Pan Arab Index; the first Pan Arab Index of its kind that ranks and tracks the performance, transparency and disclosure of regional companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. In that presentation, Alec Aaltonen, Manager Corporate Governance, Hawkamah, explained the drivers of socially responsible investing, and how ESG issues can have a huge impact on a company’s profitability and share price.

This was followed by a presentation by Amer Abuzeineh, Senior Project Manager at construction consultancy firm, Davis Langdon, who discussed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems. Abuzeineh pointed out the importance of LEED certifications, presenting Deutsche Bank’s LEED Gold certification as a case study.

An overview of the UAE’s environmental sustainability was given by Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Co-Founder and Managing Director of the online information platform for green practices, Goumbook. She outlined the gaps and the means to reduce UAE’s ecological footprint, energy consumption and carbon emissions. Abella then looked at measures adopted in London, which is considered to be the world’s leading green financial capital.

The workshop concluded with a panel discussion that was moderated by Andrew MacFarlane, GLS-CRES Business Partner, Deutsche Bank. The panel participants included Phil Brittain, Head of Corporate Services (MENA), Morgan Stanley; and Asia Fadel, Vice President Corporate Real Estate and Services, Credit Suisse. They discussed best CSR practices in the financial sector and how the knowledge could be transferred within DIFC and the region.

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