New report says both regions are committed to environment despite being “late comers”
DUBAI, UAE, Nov. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are doing the most to combat climate change in the Middle East and Africa, according to a new report that compares government and business sustainability policies, investment and actions.
The Middle East and Africa Environmental Sustainability Scorecard, released Thursday, is a detailed examination of country performance in environmental sustainability outcomes, government policies, and corporate practices in the two regions.
The report concludes that the 17 countries covered “are relative ‘late comers’ to global sustainable development but at the same time represent regions that are rapidly stepping-up their sustainability strategies, programs and investments.”
The report was commissioned by Agility, a global supply chain services company based in Kuwait. It was compiled by Horizon Group, a Geneva-based firm that specializes in research and analysis for governments, international organizations, and leading businesses worldwide.
The scorecard uses 48 performance and progress indicators to compare countries. The indicators include data, regulatory frameworks, policy assessments, incentives and corporate practices across six pillar areas: green investment and technology; sustainable infrastructure and transport; governance and reporting; energy transition; environmental ecosystems; and circularity. To capture corporate practices and progress, Horizon surveyed 647 business executives in the 17 countries.
One through 17, here’s how the countries rank: South Africa, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, Qatar, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Cote d’Ivoire, Oman, Mozambique.
- Business isn’t paying attention to COP. Eighty-two percent of African businesses and 49% of Middle East businesses are not aware of the UN-led COP process that nations are using to push and measure efforts to tackle climate change. Few companies use COP to set their sustainability targets.
- Climate change is hurting businesses. Ninety-seven percent of companies say their business has been affected by climate change, and 49% say climate change has caused “severe damage” or has a “significant and growing” impact on them.
- Governments are leading as businesses play catch up. When it comes to climate action, governments are outpacing the private sector in both the Middle East and Africa.
- Business spending on sustainability is expected to increase. Over the next 12 months, 73% of African businesses and 62% of Middle East businesses expect more than 5% of their capital expenditure business to go to achieving environmental targets.
- No one size fits all. Different countries have different sustainability priorities based on income, economic strengths, energy dependency, and other factors. High-income, energy-producing Gulf countries generally invest more in sustainable infrastructure and ecosystems. African economies perform best in energy conservation and consumption.
- Green investment is expensive. High- and middle-income countries are investing the most: Qatar, UAE, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
- Africa is focused on green transport. Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa are tops in energy conservation and non-fossil fuels for transport. Hydrocarbon-dependent Gulf countries are focused more on green buildings. For Gulf countries, the transition to cleaner energy is complicated by energy-intensive national priorities such as their desire to boost manufacturing and their need for desalinated water. In general though, across both the Middle East and Africa, more companies are investing in greening their fleets compared to greener premises.
- Waste management, consumption are tied to wealth. High-income countries are doing more to manage waste sustainably. Poorer ones do more to constrain consumption. Overall, Egypt, South Africa, Bahrain and UAE perform best in “circularity” – cutting waste, lowering consumption, and encouraging recycling and sustainable production.
Agility was recently named the No. 3 Middle East “Sustainability Leader” for Transport & Logistics by Forbes Middle East. Vice Chairman Tarek Sultan said the company’s strategy and investment decisions are increasingly shaped by the urgency of the climate fight.
“As a supply chain operator and investor in the Middle East and Africa, we want to know what governments and businesses are prioritizing, and where they’re putting resources in the climate change battle,” Sultan said. “We want to know who we can partner with in green infrastructure and transport, alternative fuels, and supply chain services that reduce environmental impact without sacrificing performance.”
Horizon, which compiled the scorecard report for Agility, said its intent was to look “beyond the selective characteristics of the Middle East being fossil fuel-dependent with high greenhouse gas emissions per capita, and African countries being low emitters of greenhouse gases but taking relatively little action on the environment.”
The scorecard report comes on the eve of COP28, the UN-led global climate change conference convening from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai. Its findings amplify those of a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, issued in October, on decarbonization and energy transition in the Middle East and North Africa.
The WEF report concluded that “MENA countries trail behind comparable regions in terms of their sustainability progress. While local governments have pledged in the past 24 months to bring 60% of MENA’s emissions under the net zero ambition, businesses overall have yet to follow suit and bridge the gap with comparable global markets –12% have set up a net zero target and 6% have established a roadmap to reach net zero.”
Agility is a global leader in supply chain services, infrastructure, and innovation with 45,000+ employees across six continents. A multi-business operator and investor, Agility specializes in growing and scaling operating businesses. Agility’s companies include the world’s largest aviation services company (Menzies Aviation); a global fuel logistics business (Tristar); a leading logistics parks developer and operator across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa (Agility Logistics Parks); and a commercial real-estate company developing a mega-mall in the UAE (UPAC). Other Agility companies offer customs digitization services, remote-site infrastructure services, defense and government services, and ecommerce-enablement and digital logistics. Agility invests in supply chain innovation, sustainability, and resilience, and has minority holdings in a growing portfolio of listed and non-listed companies.
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