Thursday 07 February 2019

Get ready, because the Abu Dhabi Declaration of 25 signatories, including BNP Paribas, may change how we think about the region’s economic model.


Twenty-five major public- and private-sector entities have kicked off 2019 by signing a landmark agreement on sustainable finance in the United Arab Emirates. 

The Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Declaration, which seeks to achieve positive economic, social and environmental outcomes through the nurturing and development of sustainable finance, marks a major milestone for the Middle East. In providing a foundation for sustainable, long-term economic growth in the Emirates, it also reflects the worldwide shift in values among consumers, companies and investors that is driving the transformation of the global economic model.

"The future of banking is sustainable finance. The UN SDGs must be at the heart of what banks do: it is not the future of banking that is at stake; it is the future of humanity."
Antoine Sire,
Group Director of Company Engagement,
BNP Paribas
Signed at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum on 16 January 2019, the Declaration aims to bring together key actors – including regulators, government and other institutions – to support efforts to explore alternative financing models. The Central Bank of the UAE, the Securities and Commodities Authority and Abu Dhabi Global Market will together facilitate the partnership between members to bolster sustainable investment, while also supporting initiatives to help promote awareness and understanding of the importance of environmental protection and sustainable growth.

The future of finance

As one of the 25 signatories to the Declaration, BNP Paribas hosted an event on the same week focusing on the challenges ahead for sustainable finance, featuring Antoine Sire, Group Director of Company Engagement, Jacques Michel, Head of BNP Paribas Middle East and Africa, and the bank's other sustainability specialists. 

Amine Bel-Hadj Soulami, Global Head of Sustainable Finance for Global Markets and Securities Services, says there is no going back: "Interest in sustainable finance is reaching a critical mass, and we can only expect interest among borrowers and investors to grow and grow in the coming months and years."

Underlining its commitment to the development of this burgeoning sector in the Emirates and the rest of the world, the bank played a leading role in arranging financing for Abu Dhabi's ground-breaking 1,177MW Sweihan power project in 2017 (pictured above). As the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the world, it now serves as a benchmark for similar future financing projects.

For Antoine Sire, the future of banking and sustainable development go hand-in-hand. "The future of banking is sustainable finance. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals must be at the heart of what banks do: it is not the future of banking that is at stake; it is the future of humanity."

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