Why are SMEs crucial in MENA’s transition to net zero?

October 5, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for almost 90% of the business landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Forming a major part of the regional economy, the role of SMEs in MENA region’s transition to net zero is pivotal.

Yet, SMEs and startups are faced with many roadblocks including but not limited to lack of access to finance, resources and networks; rising cost of doing business; overcoming systemic inequalities; and difficulties in capacity and skill building, among others. While factoring in their aim to transition to a greener future, these challenges often get amplified.

So, in what comes as a big move the COP28 Presidency, in collaboration with the SME Climate Hub and We Mean Business Coalition, has launched a dedicated programme to support MENA SMEs in the implementation of their net-zero strategies.

How will the body catalyse SMEs’ journey towards a net zero future?

COP28 & SME Climate Hub for MENA will allow businesses with under-500 employees to make a globally recognised climate commitment and be counted in the United Nations-backed ‘Race to Zero’ campaign. It will also provide access to free tools and resources for businesses to implement emissions reduction strategies across their business, report on their progress annually and work towards achieving net zero by 2050 or before.

Who is spearheading the programme?

Expected to provide benefits to thousands of SMEs across the region the programme is being run in partnership with Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company – Masdar, with support from First Abu Dhabi Bank and the Abu Dhabi Chamber. In fact, for the first time the SME Climate Hub is bilingual, available in Arabic alongside English.

Commenting on the programme Adnan Amin, CEO, COP28 said, “Expanding the SME Climate Hub’s regionalisation in MENA will help us to deliver the most inclusive COP to date, support SMEs with their climate goals and ensure they are a vital part of our collective efforts to keep 1.5C within reach.”

Why a body like the SME Climate Hub for MENA is crucial?

Offering a response, Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, COP28 said, “Climate action is an all-of-society mandate and endeavour. Businesses of all sizes are essential in accelerating our green transition to a net-zero, nature-positive future. At the same time, a robust climate strategy benefits companies by unlocking growth opportunities and future-proofing their businesses. The MENA SME Climate Hub will be a turning point for small and medium-sized businesses in the region to commit to a recognised climate goal, access practical tools and resources and build business resilience.”

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