December 6th and 7th, GEFI hosted two full days of technical, insightful, inspiring SDG Hive sessions at the DIFC Academy in Dubai.

With over 500 engaged stakeholders joining us, we heard from high-level technical experts and practitioners on a range of topics including the Just Transition, Financial Inclusion, SDG Investing, and Green Finance Centres. Speakers included Lord Mayor of the City of London Michael Mainelli, former Assistant-Secretary General of the UN Satya Tripathi, Founders, CEOs, and CSOs.


Day One of the SDG Hive was opened the morning of December 6th with remarks from David Pitt-Watson, who welcomed participants and introduced Richard Mattison, Vice Chair of S&P Global. Richard set the tone with a memorable quote, “we cannot reach net zero without being nature-positive,” before introducing the 695th City of London and the first American to hold the post, Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli for an encouraging keynote.

The Financing the Just Transition session was comprised of two panels, starting with Transition Finance and Driving a Sustainable Economy in partnership with OMFIF. Emma McGarthy (OMFIF), Anita Wieja-Caruba (DFSA), Mona Naqvi (S&P Global), and Sanjeev Gupta (Africa Finance Corporation) delved into the challenges and opportunities for MDBs, policy maker, and the private sector in driving transition finance.

This was followed by The Energy Transition: Supply, Demand, and the Investor Perspective in partnership with CarbonTracker and PRI. Mark Campanale (CarbonTracker) led a discussion against the backdrop of an escalating climate crisis focused on the need to accelerate an energy transition, alongside Robert Spruijt (ING), Will Wollerton (Phoenix Group), and Rob Turner (PwC).

Dame Susan Rice then led a discussion on Climate Leadership: The Power of Leadership and Culture to Navigate Climate Change in partnership with CBI, DIFC Academy, and CISI. Simon Thompson (CBI), Peter Smith 9CISI), Jonas Persson (Lloyd’s Banking Group), and David Carlin (UNEP FI) shared insights into the unique challenges of leading organizations during times of transition and the lessons learned in innovating for the Just Transition.

In two parts, the Financing Nature session started with The Climate-Nature Nexus: Aligning Capital Markets with Planetary Boundaries in partnership with PlanetTracker. John Willis (PlanetTracker), James d’Ath (TNFD), and Imane Kabbaj (Man Group) had a lively debate on the data and guiding principles needed to meet industry-specific needs, while ensuring adaptability and reactivity to technological innovation.

The second part of this session, Nature and Biodiversity: Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in partnership with Mercer, balanced viewpoints of investors and practitioners as Omar Shaikh (GEFI) engaged with Kamal Bhatia (Principal Global Investors), Cara Williams (Mercer), Mike Vermeij (Safe Haven Solutions), and Muhammad El Demerdash (Engazaat).  


Day Two of the SDG Hive, December 7th, started off strong with a presentation by Sohail Zubairi (Islamic Finance Specialist) on The SDGs and Islamic Finance, followed by a panel on SDG Investing: Innovation and Opportunity in partnership with MSCI. Rumi Mahmood (MSCI) led David Tait (DFSA), Eva Cairns (abrdn), and Leon Kamhi (Federated Hermes) in an engaging discussion on the critical role of investment in financing a fairer future and meeting global climate goals. Kimberley Abbot (Vested Impact) closed with a focus on data, while centering the knowledge that these discussions are intrinsially about people.

Green Finance Centres: Empowering Financial Centres to Drive Sustainable Finance in partnership with WAIFC and TheCityUK brought together Mourad Fathallah (Casablanca Finance City), Hubertus Väth (Frankfurt Main Finance e.V.), Dr Soongoo Ahn (Busan Finance Centre), Hortense Mudenge (Kigali International Finance Centre), and Christian Kunz (Dubai International Finance Centre), in a session moderated by Chika Muorah (TheCityUK) to address the impacts of financial centres as catalysts for SDG alignment.

The afternoon session, Africa: Climate Resilience, Financial Inclusion, and Achieving the SDGs started off with Financial Inclusion: Long Term Solutions to Addressing Climate Challenges, with Sudeshna Raychaudhuri (PRI) joined by Modupe Ladipo (Prosperar Development Consulting), Dr Remi Abere (RoebiGlobal), Naveen Raza (HSBC), and Rachael Antwi (EcoBank) to explore the opportunities that exist within financial inclusion, particularly in building resilience and economic growth.

Following this was In Conversation with Satya Tripathi in partnership with GASP, wherein Randa Mounir (UNFCCC) and Satya Tripathi (GASP) delved into best practice approaches and innovations, as well as challegnes facing financial flows.

In Bridging the Divide: Chanelling Finance to Africa, Ben Scott (CarbonTracker) presented on the impact of internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles in Africa, followed by a panel discussion led by Dr Erika Anderson (GEFI) with Imran Farooqui (NuQi Capital) and Boitumelo Sethlatswe (Standard Bank) on the unique investment opportunities and existing challenges of investing in Africa.