UAE and Saudi Arabia rank among top five MENA sustainability leaders

UAE and Saudi Arabia rank among top five MENA sustainability leaders

Report shows despite being ‘late comers’ to global sustainable development, they're rapidly stepping up

South Africa and the United Arab Emirates are doing the most to combat climate change in Africa and the Middle East, followed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, according to a new report that compares government and business sustainability policies, investment and actions.

The recently released Middle East and Africa Environmental Sustainability Scorecard is a detailed examination of country performance in environmental sustainability outcomes, government policies and corporate practices spanning the two regions.

The report concludes that the 17 countries covered “are relative ‘late comers’ to global sustainable development but represent regions that are rapidly stepping-up their sustainability strategies, programmes and investments.”

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The report was commissioned by Agility, a global supply chain services company based in Kuwait, and compiled by Horizon Group, a Geneva-based firm that specialises in research and analysis.

The report 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.

The UAE ranks among the leaders in five of six pillar categories in the report. It is second in Green Investment, Innovation & Tech; first in Sustainable Infrastructure & Transport; second in Governance & Reporting; first in Environmental Ecosystems; and fourth in Circularity, the pillar measuring footprint of materials and waste management practices. However, like other energy-dependent GCC economies, the UAE trails behind African countries in the Energy Transition pillar, which looks at fossil fuel production and consumption.


The full ranking can be found below:

  1. South Africa
  2. UAE
  3. Egypt
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Rwanda
  6. Kenya
  7. Uganda
  8. Ghana
  9. Morocco
  10. Qatar
  11. Tanzania
  12. Nigeria
  13. Bahrain
  14. Kuwait
  15. Cote d’Ivoire
  16. Oman
  17. Mozambique

The report singles out the UAE for a vertical-farming project, the world’s largest, which is intended to save 250 million litres of water, as well as its investment of US$50 billion in clean energy projects in 70 countries. In addition, a UAE-US partnership intended to accelerate the clean energy transition is intended to raise US$100 billion to deploy clean energy globally.

The UAE is about to host COP28, the UN-led global climate change conference, in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023 and aims to have net-zero emissions by 2050. 

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