Region in Focus: Arab Capital Markets Sustainable Finance Dialogue

19 October 2023

Abu Dhabi, 19 October 2023 - The Cairo-based Regional Center for Sustainable Finance (RCSF), the Arab Federation of Capital Markets (AFCM) and the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (UN SSE) initiative co-organized a CEO roundtable featuring exchange representatives, regulators and government officials from the Arab region at the UNCTAD World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi.  Bringing the experience and perspective from the exchange industry, Mr Abdulla Salem Al Nuaimi (CEO, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange), Mr Mazen Wathaifi (CEO, Amman Stock Exchange), Ms Heba El Serafi (VP, Egyptian Stock Exchange), Mr Ahmed Rushdy (Executive Director, Regional Center for Sustainable Finance, Financial Regulatory Authority), Ms Martine Valcin (Global Manager, ESG Advisory, Knowledge and Learning, IFC) and Ms Riham ElGizy (CEO, MENA Voluntary Carbon Market) discussed how their organisations are supporting their markets to accelerate sustainable finance. They highlighted in particular the role of their exchanges in mobilizing sustainable finance products, such as green, social and sustainability bonds and noted the important function of exchanges in helping their markets with the adaptation and implementation of sustainability disclosure standards in the region.  Following two main themes including mobilizing capital for climate action and promoting the adoption of sustainability reporting standards in Arab countries, speakers, including Ahmed Rushdy (Executive Director, RCSF) and Martine Valcin (Global Manager, IFC) provided the perspective of regulatory authorities and investors on the topic of sustainable finance. Ahmed Rushdy said: “The transition to a low carbon economy creates a significant investment opportunity for both developed and developing economies. We believe there are three pillars to capitalizing on these opportunities. The first is sustainability-based financial products, the second is disclosure and the third is development of carbon markets.” Mr Abdulla Salem Al Nuaimi said: “Until we reach an agreed-upon, global standard for a balance sheet in sustainability like we have in accounting, we will face challenges.” Mr Mazen Wathaifi said: “Regulators and stock exchanges have an increasingly important role in accelerating and intensifying actions and investments needed for a sustainable and low-carbon future and a climate–resilient economy. Ms Heba El Serafi said: “Stock exchanges should lead the way for all market participants, therefore we have set a roadmap of the sustainability journey,” adding “we really need to get SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) on the journey. They need to start reporting on ESG, not only climate.” Ms Riham ElGizy said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of climate change, but voluntary carbon markets provides an incentive to accelerate action” The session was moderated by Anthony Miller (Chief Coordinator, UN SSE), who recognized the need for multi-stakeholder cooperation to promote sustainable finance in the Arab region and elsewhere. “For an exchange to innovate, we also need the regulators and policy makers to innovate. That is the ecosystem approach.”

About the SSE

​The SSE initiative is a UN Partnership Programme organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, UNEP FI and the PRI. The SSE’s mission is to provide a global platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, companies (issuers), regulators, policymakers and relevant international organizations, can enhance performance on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues and encourage sustainable investment, including the financing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SSE seeks to achieve this mission through an integrated programme of conducting evidence-based policy analysis, facilitating a network and forum for multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and providing technical assistance and advisory services.