Home Sustainability The UAE Becomes A Hub For Green Initiatives Ahead of COP28

The UAE Becomes A Hub For Green Initiatives Ahead of COP28

Inc. Arabia speaks with industry leaders, startups, and experts about the UAE's journey toward becoming a climatetech hub.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), traditionally associated with opulent skyscrapers and luxurious lifestyles, has quickly become a global hotbed for climate technology (climatetech) and sustainability-driven initiatives. In the lead-up to hosting COP28, the UAE has made sustainability a priority, driving policies and creating an enabling environment to support climatetech development.

"The region has done a great job in promoting climate-focused startups and companies with many of the initiatives they've introduced," Alyssa Mariano, co-founder and CEO of Bazaara, a peer-to-peer marketplace facilitating the resale of fashion, tells Inc. Arabia. "It’s extremely prudent that the region focuses on climate startups and spearheads some of the initiatives, especially with global warming and climate change happening right on our doorstep in the desert."

Bazaara aims to offset the fashion industry's staggering environmental footprint with its marketplace for pre-loved clothes and goods. The fashion industry ranks as the second-largest polluter globally, producing 10% of global CO2 emissions.

"Our core objective in establishing Bazaara was to help facilitate the buying and selling of secondhand goods in the region," Mariano explains. "Since we've facilitated about 2,500 sales since launch, we've now saved over 10,000 pounds of CO2 emissions."

Another UAE-based green startup, Ehfaaz, is dedicated to closed-loop recycling.

“We repurpose food waste and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) waste into organic compost and eco-friendly cleaning products. We divert significant waste from landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide sustainable alternatives to conventional cleaning products. We are proud to contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy,” Aliyu Mohammed Ali, co-founder and CEO of Ehfaaz Recycling, tells us. 

Investors and Government Are Getting Behind Climatetech

Both investors and the UAE government are increasingly supporting climatetech startups and sustainability initiatives.

The UAE's Green Agenda is a long-term plan to achieve the goals of sustainable development in the UAE, including a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 23.5% by 2030. Additionally, the establishment of free zones and innovation hubs has attracted startups developing innovative solutions to global climate challenges by offering business-friendly environments. This is in addition to policies such as the UAE Circular Economy Policy, as well as other initiatives from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE).

Chirag Gupta, the managing partner of deeptech VC 8X Ventures, emphasizes the potential to marry deeptech with climatetech to deliver innovative solutions, particularly in areas like water management and sanitation. "Any investment in a climatetech startup in the region, fortified by robust deep tech, can generate profound and sustained growth over time," Gupta tells us.

However, experts suggest that there is room for more substantial investments and incentives, both from investors and governments, to further accelerate the growth of climate-friendly startups.

“Investor interest in climatetech and sustainability startups is growing, reflecting a global shift toward responsible investments. The government has been supportive through incentives and frameworks, but there's potential to streamline regulations and offer more targeted funding options. Enhanced collaboration between the public and private sectors can further boost the ecosystem,” says Ali.

COP28 As A Launching Pad

As the world's focus turns to COP28, the UAE's commitment to sustainability is poised to make a lasting impact. "I believe the momentum will continue after COP28," Mariano says, adding that it is an exciting time for startups to be in climatetech and sustainability.

Arif Amiri, CEO of Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Authority, emphasizes the importance of innovative financial solutions to advance progress to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. The DIFC forum serves as a platform for exploring various future sustainability and climate technologies, all of which are critical for achieving global net-zero objectives, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement.

Sudarshan Pareek, Vice President of VC firm CE Ventures, highlights the region's commitment to climate change, with rising private sector interest in climate solutions. "Private sector participation in the climate action sphere has seen a substantial uptick," he notes, adding that businesses are recognizing their pivotal role in combatting climate change.

“After COP28, we anticipate an even more favorable environment for climatetech and sustainability startups. The increased awareness generated by COP28 will likely attract more investors and partnerships, and drive innovation. This momentum can lead to sustainable solutions becoming mainstream, benefiting both businesses and the environment,” says Ali.

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