Expo to tap immense spirit of hope, optimism - GulfToday

Expo to tap immense spirit of hope, optimism

Mohamed Farrara Lashtar (centre) and  Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi (left) during the Nicaragua National Day celebrations at Expo 2020 Dubai. WAM

Mohamed Farrara Lashtar (centre) and Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi (left) during the Nicaragua National Day celebrations at Expo 2020 Dubai. WAM

Responsible investment strategies, aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), alongside bold action on - and accountability from businesses to - the SDGs proved key themes at the Global Goals Business Forum at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The event, held at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai, brought together industry leaders and experts from across the public and private sectors.

In his welcome address, Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations, Dubai Chamber of Commerce (Official Business Integrator of Expo 2020 Dubai), said, “While the pandemic has highlighted the broader vulnerabilities of our global society, we know the roadmap forward to address these interconnected challenges are the [SDGs]. We call on businesses to align their efforts with the public sector to accelerate progress towards the SDGs and ensure a steady path to a brighter future.”

That set the tone for the forum, co-curated by Expo 2020 Dubai, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Estonia and the UN Global Compact, and held as part of Global Goals Week, which runs from Jan.15-22.

In her opening address, Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director, UN Global Compact, said, “A resounding and recurring message I have heard over these last few days is that we’re in the right place, at the right time, here in Dubai at Expo 2020 - to tap into an immense spirit of hope, optimism, collaboration and urgency. To reignite, as we’ve heard, the ambitions, actions and accountability that will help us make up for the gains that have been lost in progress around achieving the SDGs.

“We need business leaders to make bold business decisions for the future, we need businesses to integrate the [SDGs] into their corporate strategies, we need businesses to account for their externalities in the same way they account for their business losses.”

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power, one of India’s leading renewable energy firms, joined Patrick Chalhoub, CEO, Chalhoub Group, and Emmeline Hambali, Group Managing Director, Dynapack Asia, Indonesia, in the opening session, SDG Ambition: Accelerate Business Action.

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, also Chair of the ReNew Foundation, ReNew Power’s philanthropic arm that works on creating sustainable communities through access to clean energy, said, “It is the availability of capital and commitment of investors which is helping us to accelerate and amplify what we are doing - that’s the good news and I think we should all recognise that.

“Whether it is the smog, the total transition to clean energy [or] engaging communities, all of these issues require a few critical things - one of them is investments. I cannot highlight [enough] the importance of ensuring that the funds [are] flowing through.

Financing remained a core theme as the forum progressed, with session Financing the 2030 Agenda - moderated by Marie Morice, Head of Sustainable Finance, UN Global Compact - touching on SDG-aligned investment instruments and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategies that help further the SDGs.

Panellist Zahara Malik, Co-Founder and CEO, Grosvenor Capital, who noted an increased emphasis on the ‘S’ in ESG, in light of the pandemic, said, “Right now, from corporates to individuals, we’re very much focused on ‘the human’ so, a positive in terms of a change in trends and what we’re seeing is the drive for the social element of ESG.”

Responsible financing and increased ESG reporting pressures on corporates proved core themes as the dialogue progressed.

Other forum sessions touched on the crucial role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the SDGs, how digitalisation can accelerate progress and the private sector’s efforts to prevent and eliminate child labour in their operations and supply chains.

A day earlier Nicaragua celebrated its National Day at Expo 2020 on Tuesday with a speech by the country’s ambassador to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), who spoke of the outstanding bilateral ties between his country and the UAE.

Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs, welcomed Mohamed Mohamed Farrara, Ambassador of Nicaragua to the GCC, who holds official residence in Kuwait, according to a press release issued by Expo 2020 Dubai.

Al Shamsi said, “Nicaragua’s pavilion shines a light on the country’s unique history and cultural legacy, highlighting the many touristic and commercial opportunities that are available to a variety of local and international stakeholders.

“We are proud to have Nicaragua as a committed and active participant at Expo 2020 Dubai and hope to build on the existing partnerships between our two countries. Throughout Expo 2020 Dubai and beyond, we are keen to explore opportunities for commercial and investment cooperation, as well as knowledge exchange in sectors of mutual priority, such as renewable energy, agriculture, tourism and education,” Al Shamsi said.

Farrara, who is also the Commissioner-General of the Nicaragua Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, noted Nicaragua’s strong ties with the UAE, as he thanked the leadership for facilitating his nation’s participation at the global event.

“In recent years, the bilateral relations between Nicaragua and the United Arab Emirates have had a remarkable development, even more so with the visit of Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to our country in 2009, and his meeting with Comandante Daniel Ortega, President of the Republic,” the ambassador pointed out.

“Our relations have subsequently resulted in the signing of a series of cooperation agreements in different areas. We express our gratitude to the government and the people of the United Arab Emirates for the kind invitation and the opportunity to make Nicaragua’s participation in this international exhibition possible,” Farrara said.

The envoy also took the opportunity to extend a warm invitation to the more than 200 International Participants at Expo 2020 Dubai to consider setting up businesses in Nicaragua.

“Nicaragua is a Central American country with a diversity of natural resources [that[ provides investment opportunities [in the field of] agriculture, energy, tourism, transportation, infrastructure and mining, among others,” he said.

Nicaragua’s pavilion showcases its human and natural resources, providing a fascinating window into this remarkable nation. Visitors will learn about the country’s colourful architecture and stark volcanic landscapes to idyllic beaches and lush rainforest, as well as a vibrant entrepreneurial scene that offers a wealth of opportunities.


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