As COP28 arrived in Dubai, with all eyes on the Islamic finance industry. Interest-free, Shariah compliant finance remains a largely untapped pool of capital for sustainability. This event explored how the two value-driven forms of finance can be aligned through new standards and improved practices.

Shereen Osman, PwC, who anchored the summit welcomed delegates and introduced Dr Akram Laldin, International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) Consulting, who delivered a Quran recitation. Christian Kunz, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) then shared his welcome remarks on behalf of the DIFC. Omar Shaikh also welcomed delegates on behalf of UKIFC and GEFI. Finally, Baroness Vere who was recently appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary at His Majesty’s Treasury gave her opening remarks on behalf of the UK government where she underlined the importance of mobilizing all financial resources to achieve a sustainable transformation.

The Opening Keynotes were delivered by Dr Zamir Iqbal, Islamic Development Bank who spoke about unlocking Islamic finance to achieve COP28 objectives and Boby Hernawan, Ministry of Finance, Republic of Indonesia who evaluated the role of Islamic finance in supporting the climate transition in Indonesia.

The first session was a fireside chat on the State of the Industry – Letter or Spirit of the Law with Naveen Raza, HSBC, who discussed with Dr Iqbal Khan, Fajr Capital, whether the current state sufficiently address the needs of the people that Islamic finance is meant to serve ,and how the industry can successfully move from Halal to Tayyib.

This discussion set up the next panel discussion on Sustainable Islamic Finance Investing which gathered leading asset managers together to discuss moving from Halal to Tayyib. Muneer Khan, Simmons & Simmons moderated the session with Salman Siddiqui, Jupiter Asset Management, Shereen Osman, PwC, Christian Gueckel, SEDCO Capital, and David Sheasby, Martin Currie, covering how the Islamic finance industry has historically approached sustainability, and the key challenges in maintaining authenticity and credibility.

After 12 months of extensive research, the Secretariat for Tayyib Inspired was launched by Dame Susan Rice, GEFI, and Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, MIFC who called for the global ESG market to include the voice of Islamic finance, and pointed to the importance and opportunity for the global Islamic finance sector to positively engage with sustainability.

The Summit also saw the launch of the Global Taskforce for Islamic Finance and the SDGs’ Key Outputs Report by Mustafa Adil, London Stock Exchange Group, as well as the High-Level Working Group on Green and Sustainable Sukuk’s Financing a Sustainable Future Report by Chris Tait, UKIFC.

In this Regulator Fireside chat, Shrey Kohli, London Stock Exchange Group is joined by representatives from the regulators of two of the world’s largest Islamic finance markets, Sharifatul Hanizah, Securities Commission Malaysia and Basheer Ahmad, Dubai Financial Services Authority. The audience heard insights on how they understand and navigate the overlap, convergence of Islamic finance with mainstream green and sustainability frameworks, and whether Islamic finance should have its own approach to sustainability.

Sharing an update on Ummah For Earth Islamic Finance Work on Climate Urgency, Nouhad Awwad, Greenpeace, reminded the audience that despite not being the largest contributor, Muslim communities are among the most affected communities around the world.

David Testa, DDCAP, moderated the final panel on Green and Sustainable Islamic Finance Products, where he welcomed to the stage Charles Haresnape, Gatehouse Bank, Dr Mohamed Damak, S&P Global, and Rob Ansari, Mercer to share the key challenges in creating green and sustainable Islamic products, and the perceived lag of Islamic finance in the global sustainability movement.

In a fascinating final session of the summit, Debashis Dey, White & Case, was in conversation with Shariah Scholar, Dr Akram Laldin, ISRA, where he asked whether Shariah governance models sufficiently addressed climate and nature, and if Shariah scholars are sufficiently well versed on the science and technical components related to climate.

Rafe Haneef, MBSB delivered the summit’s Closing Keynote where he gave an honest reflection of how we got to where we have and what needs to change in both mindset as well as products to unlock Islamic finance for climate and sustainability.