In the bustling city of Dubai, host city of this year's UN Climate Conference (COP28), a confluence of minds and ideas gathered to pave the way toward a more sustainable future. Among the diverse group of delegates, advocates, and stakeholders, members of the Jamat were active participants in helping to make progress in the field of climate action.

Representing corporations, charities, and state-level organisations, Ismailis from various parts of the world were in attendance at the conference, engaging in dialogue and forging partnerships that reflected their own personal commitment to addressing climate change head-on. 

This year’s conference hosted more than 150 climate action events, with strong engagement from leadership across different sectors and signs of real progress with indigenous people, women, and youth given a voice throughout. Although much work remains to avert environmental disaster in the decades ahead, there were encouraging signs, with major commitments secured and funding pledged.

We reached out to three Ismailis engaged in environment and sustainability work who attended COP28 to hear about what inspired them at this year’s conference, and what still needs to happen.

Bridging gaps

COP28 was an opportunity to close the massive emissions gap and accelerate the green transition already happening in many sectors and regions. More than 100 countries have committed to net-zero emissions by mid-century, and renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and more accessible. But such commitment requires follow through.

“Once policy is formed, stakeholders need to act,” said Al-Karim Govindji, head of public affairs for DNV Energy Systems, and based in London.

“This needs companies to value climate impacts more strongly than they do today,” he added. “Plus, in all this we need to allow the south to reach a level of economic development that we have enjoyed in the north.” 

Another important aspect is ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. COP28 concluded the first-ever global stocktake, a process for countries and stakeholders to review progress towards meeting these goals. This points to more collaboration and coordination.

“I see lots of signs in the past year that companies and countries are sharing more, coming together, trying to find joint solutions,” said Al-Karim. “I think the COP presidency did an excellent job to bring parties together around issues. Hence the commitments on net zero, Loss and Damage funding, methane elimination, and more.”

The imperative for action

But climate action is not only down to governments and corporations. Small businesses and individuals also have a responsibility to work towards a cleaner environment and a brighter future.

“I witnessed a beautiful collaboration of different people, sectors, the young and wise,” said Alida Saleh, Head of Sustainability (MEA) at JLL, based in Dubai. “Nature and oceans had a seat at the table, which is important for their survival. I believe each one of us needs to play our part and we can change the trajectory of climate impacts. It’s not too late.”

According to Alida, every business has a responsibility to take action to reduce their carbon footprint. It all starts with education and awareness, one of the major themes at COP28. Those who don’t, she says, might lose customers and investors.

“Sustainability is no longer good to have or optional to incorporate into organisations, it is a business imperative,” said Alida. “Investors are increasingly associating climate risk with financial risk, favouring projects with green strategies and efficiency. This indicates a growing recognition of the financial advantages and value creation potential in sustainability.” 

This advice extends beyond business to individuals too. With the climate crisis comes opportunities to make positive and lasting changes to how the world currently operates. Those who make an effort to learn about the environment, sustainability, and ecology will be well equipped to contribute to climate mitigation through their careers today and in the future.

“Climate change could potentially have catastrophic impacts on everything we do, from our jobs, to our homes, to our health, and our finances,” said Alida. “Bridge your knowledge gap by learning how sustainability and climate change will impact the skills and needs of the future and invest in learning new green skills.”

Hope through adaptation

While mitigation is essential to limit future warming, adaptation is also necessary to cope with the current and projected impacts of climate change. Communities worldwide are already facing the consequences of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity.

COP28 recognised the urgent need to support adaptation efforts, especially in developing countries that are most vulnerable and least responsible for climate change.

“I’ve been very encouraged by the decisions and negotiations around climate adaptation, which has at last become a central part of the discussion,” said Qahir Dhanani, Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group, based in Washington DC.

This year’s conference also highlighted the role of innovative, nature-based solutions such as restoring ecosystems, conserving biodiversity, and promoting sustainable agriculture to enhance resilience and reduce emissions. 

“We have to believe in human ingenuity, in the opportunities that technology, investment, and rallying around the problem will cause,” Qahir added. “ It will hopefully result in the impact we’re looking to see.” 

But adaptation is not only vital for those directly affected by climate change. We all need to make changes in our consumption and our behaviour, in order to leave behind a sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren.

“We have to be conscious,” said Qahir. “We’ve been gifted this Earth and we have a critical role in preserving it for future generations. Our faith teaches us that we are stewards of Allah’s creation. We have to do what’s right for the planet and for nature, because that’s all we have.”