COP28: Green finance skills will be more critical than ever as ESG strategies gain prominence in investment and business decisions

Dubai, UAE: Accountancy profession is uniquely placed to support long-term economic success driven by responsible, sustainable business practice.


As part of its COP28 activities, ACCA hosted Women in Finance and CFO Breakfast Club events for finance professionals focused on forging a path towards a sustainable future.


Women in Business: Driving Sustainable Impact


The first event, Women in Business: Driving Sustainable Impact, was hosted by Helen Brand, Chief Executive, ACCA, and discussed the role that female leaders play in driving sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) in senior leadership roles.


The session was moderated by Diana Wilde, Co-Founder of Aurora50, with co-panellists Cynthia Corby, Partner, Deloitte Middle East and Women In Finance Chairperson; Dr Ayesha Bin Lootah, Board Member of the Institute of Internal Auditors – UAE Chapter; and Nicola Jane Thompson, Group Chief Audit Officer, RAKBANK.


“Professional bodies, like us, have a responsibility to support the roles of accountants and finance professionals in navigating the challenges of the sustainability landscape with education and practical resources,” said Helen Brand. “Accounting for a Better World is our agenda for action for a sustainable future. The global nature of accountancy – and the central role of accountants working in and for organisations – means that our profession is unique in its ability to drive change and help build a better world,” Brand added.


Cynthia Corby, co-panellist, said about the event: “The discussions focused on the contribution the finance profession will make towards a shared goal of forging a path towards a sustainable future. As ESG strategies gain prominence in investment and business decisions and unlock access to capital, the finance sector will play a crucial role in understanding the regulation and reporting standards with the role of the CFO changing to a Chief Value Officer.”


“Based on research there is growing recognition that sustainability of an organisation and female empowerment are closely linked and as such, female finance professionals should seize the opportunity to fill the non-traditional C-Suite roles, like Chief Sustainability Officer, where female presence is growing at a faster pace than traditional C-Suite roles. This, coupled with the need to embrace technology, which will drive the data required for reporting and disclosure, as well as increased collaboration and knowledge sharing, will provide even greater opportunities for women in finance to close the capacity gap currently experienced in this specialist area,” Corby continued.


CFO Breakfast Club


The second event, the CFO Breakfast Club, saw over 42 finance leaders come together for a roundtable session on Sustainability in Finance to discuss how CFOs play a leading role in tackling the sustainability challenge, the benefits of moving into a sustainable business model and how finance professionals are enabling this vital change.


“The roundtable discussion was designed to support finance leaders with the knowledge and understanding required to adapt their organisation’s processes to support positive ESG outcomes. CFOs will play a vital role in navigating expanding views and expectations around value creation. Embedding ESG principles into organisation-wide strategy is the key to success. As a leader, CFOs must embed sustainability across all areas of the finance domain,” said Fazeela Gopalani, Head of ACCA Middle East.


Robert Van Der Klauw, Chief Financial Officer, Munich RE and ACCA UAE MAC Chair, added: “We know that we can only achieve long-term economic success through responsible action, which is why the objective of sustainable economic value creation is anchored in the core principles of our corporate strategy. At Munich Re, we follow a holistic sustainability strategy with focus on responsible governance, a sustainable approach to business, environmental and climate protection, being a responsible employer, and societal responsibility.”


Martin Bradley, Chief Finance Officer, Dulsco Group, outlined ways that the company has implemented ESG in its finance decision-making: “Group, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations are integral to our financial decision-making processes. We have made substantial investments in our own recycling facilities such as: Material Recovery Facility, Liquid Treatment Plant and Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling Plant, which support our sustainability objectives. We also remain committed to the UAE government’s In-Country Value Programme (ICV) and support local industries by purchasing goods and services that support the country’s economy. We uphold ethical business practices, encourage moral conduct, and promote transparency in all financial dealings with our customers and vendors. Our procurement is outsourced to an external agency that strives to ensure sustainable and socially conscious procurement practices. We have also invested in digital transformation at Dulsco Group, a key driver for sustainability, allowing us to optimise our processes, enhance business performance along with network & infrastructure security, and reduce our environmental impact through advanced technologies.”


Source: zawya