Shrook Mansour Bin Sultan

By Shrook Mansour Bin Sultan, Head of Government Affairs Saudi Arabia at 3M
Sustainable vision of the Arab world will not be possible without collaboration

The recent COP27 conference in Egypt and the forthcoming one in the UAE has shone a bright light on the Middle East region's sustainability commitments. Against this backdrop, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now five years into its Vision 2030, a plan with sustainable ambitions at its heart. As the climate agenda now shifts from promises to achieving tangible partnerships and activating shared goals, it is important to understand how meaningful collaboration can be achieved. Collaboration will help progress, translating words into actions and reaching the goals of net zero and carbon neutrality. 

Creating a culture of partnership 

At 3M, we believe that actions to address climate challenges require a science-led approach where knowledge and resource are shared across the ecosystem of government, private business and civil society. One example of this ecosystem in action was the inauguration of 3M’s Innovation Centre in Dubai Internet City in November. With the aim of sharing sustainable best practices and bringing our scientific knowledge to the area alongside our partners, we’ve been able to plant our flag in a diverse and innovative community of businesses operating in the region. Policymakers must do their part to incentivise the development of sustainable business communities by creating a suitable and competitive infrastructure. 

Accountability is a powerful asset 

As with any partnership, when the public and private sectors convene to approach the challenge of sustainability, it is important to be able to disagree and hold partners to account to ensure goals are not missed.  Whilst long-term aspirations such as reaching net zero are important, collaboration is vital to addressing urgent climate issues, such as energy security, in an agile way. 

When policy meets innovation, the sky is the limit

Governments across the Middle East and globally are betting big with policies related to sustainability. For KSA, this includes key objectives such as diversifying the Kingdom’s energy portfolio to transition more rapidly to renewables, whilst still providing a secure pipeline of energy. 

This topic of creating clean energy security was the focus of a panel discussion we convened at COP27.  Discussions about energy security rely on the integration of policy leaders with technology providers and innovators who can bring solutions to life. If private bodies are working in isolation, the move towards sustainable technologies will be far slower.

Strength in unity 

The theme of collaborating for climate solutions is really best summarised by the fact that neither public nor private bodies can achieve the scale of change required alone. In another panel we convened at COP27, Gayle Schueller our Chief Sustainability Officer reaffirmed that every potential partner has a ‘superpower.’ They have a way they can specifically support climate action through the expertise they have within a given sector or area of technology. Identifying what that unique contribution is and how it fits into a unified plan, will support a more efficient response to sustainable objectives.

At this pivotal moment for KSA in advancing its sustainable vision, and at this year’s COP28 in the UAE, there is a real chance for nations across the Arabian Gulf to act as the chief connectors addressing the world’s climate emergency. They can be the instigators of long-term collaborations. In so doing, they must allow for the pairing of public resources and infrastructure with the leading scientists and innovators who can unlock the route to net zero. Achieving the outcome of a greener world is a journey that need not be undertaken alone.

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