Road to COP28: From intention to impact

September 14, 2023

About the Authors

Elena Gramatica

Managing Partner


Katja Novakovic

Senior Communications Manager

Getting your business to COP28 UAE and engaging with its events

Taking the heat off

July 2023 has gone down in history as the hottest month ever recorded on Earth – for now that is. Extreme weather events are impacting people worldwide and raising a new, far more urgent alarm, that rings well beyond any local activist or youth group.

Between Paris and 2030

Seven years have passed since the Paris Agreement, still considered to be one of the most critical decisions on global climate action. With seven years to go until 2030, we are now at the halfway mark to the targets set to keep our planet safe – limiting global warming to 1.5°C and reducing emissions by 45% to name a few.

It’s time to take stock of how far we’ve come and how much more – and there is a lot – remains to be done. The upcoming COP28 UN Climate Summit in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled to take place from 30 November to 12 December 2023, is that moment. It will conclude the first ever Global Stocktake, assessing the world’s collective progress towards the “nationally determined contributions” or NDCs that governments promised in Paris.

COP28 also presents a pivotal opportunity for businesses to contribute to a more sustainable future.

A global meeting point for climate action

The UAE is no stranger to the global spotlight, having established itself as a leading commercial hub, connecting the East, West, and Africa through an exceptionally diverse, open, and strategically positioned economy. Over the last 50 years, the country has managed to increase its GDP more than 247 times (AED 1.6 trillion compared to AED 6.5 billion).

Still, the UN Climate Summit is an altogether different animal. And for the UAE, it means tackling the elephant in the room head on. COP28 President-Designate, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, has laid out an ambitious four pillar plan of action: fast-tracking the transition to a low-CO2 world; fixing climate finance; focusing on people, lives and livelihoods; and full inclusivity.

Blue or Green Zone: Engaging in COP28

COP28 will have two main zones – the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. Managed by the UNFCCC, the Blue Zone hosts formal negotiations and high-level events exclusively for UNFCCC-accredited participants, including 198 parties (negotiators from 197 states and the EU), world leaders, observers (NGOs, IGOs, UN agencies), and the media.

For all but a few, sponsorship costs may prove prohibitive to snatch a coveted Blue Zone placard. As a frame of reference, speaking slots start from USD250,000. Plus, to sponsor, an organisation must already be member to the UNFCCC Race to Zero campaign or demonstrate credible net-zero transition plans based on the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

In parallel, the Green Zone welcomes delegates and guests from the public, private sector, NGOs, and community engagement initiatives in a free, public forum. It will feature several sponsor and stakeholder hubs: the Decarbonization Hub, Technology and Innovation Hub, and Knowledge Hub. Curated content, including technical conferences, roundtables, and exhibitions will stand side by side with community engagement, focused on youth and Emirati culture.

In another first, the Blue and Green Zones will be adjacent to each other at Expo City Dubai, making COP28 uniquely accessible.

Great Expectations

COP28 UAE will be a milestone moment for businesses as crucial decisions on phasing down fossil fuels, tightening net-zero transition requirements, and shaping the regulatory and investment framework for the future are expected. This time, the summit invites all climate players to the table – oil companies included. Instead of making decisions on their behalf, it wants to encourage them to become an active part of the solution.

To quote Bob Ward, Policy Director at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, London School of Economics, “If COP28 does deliver all the ambitions outlined, it would be one of the most important Summits in history.”

Making your mark

Businesses that want to engage without the financial burden of sponsorship have a couple of options to choose from; participating in fringe events or joining embassy delegations. Climate Week NYC and the UN’s first Climate Ambition Summit, both held in September, are additional opportunities to build partnerships and advocate for net-zero change.

With a decade of experience in the region, SEC Newgate Middle East is a primary touchpoint for organisations in and outside of the UAE looking to be a part of COP28.

Reach out to SEC Newgate to explore how you can engage with and secure your place at COP28 UAE.