Navigating Sustainability: How to Get Started. Small Steps, Big impact Simple Strategies For Sustainability a Special Report by Ghizlane Rahali

Priorities Sustainability to Become Competitive


IN TODAY’S dynamic business landscape, sustainability has evolved from a buzzword to a strategic imperative and is progressively becoming a mandate for governments, companies, and communities. Hence, businesses that prioritise sustainability will have an advantage to grow and to be competitive in their respective industries. While many organisations have started recognising the importance of establishing the foundation of sustainability and adopting ESG practices into their business model, many organisations, particularly micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), tend to struggle and wonder: Where do we start from?

Our Recommendation: is to start simply and to keep it progressive. Here’s how you can embark on a journey of sustainable transformation while keeping it simple:

  1. Start with a sustainability self-assessment: Build on success by conducting an internal self-assessment of current practices that are sustainability-oriented, such as the use of energy-saving LED lighting, reduction of paper consumption and employee volunteerism. Through the self-assessment, companies are likely to conclude that they have a good start to build from.
  1. Identify opportunities: From the sustainability self-assessment, identifying areas of expansion becomes much easier and clearer, with goals that are directly related to the everyday operations of the business. In this process, it is rec- ommended to develop a sustainability committee with members from each division identified to contribute to the transformation.
  2. Review and align with ESG and sustainability guidelines: Once the committee is developed and opportunities are defined, aligning them with global sustainability frameworks such as Vision 2030, ESG industry guidelines, and UN SDGs guidelines is the next step. As part of Vision 2030, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are leading the way in providing guidelines and best practices, giving a head start for companies’ sustainability adoption. For example, the CBB Environmental, Social, and Governance Requirements Module announced in November 2023 for financial services is important for all companies’ supply chain providers and should be reviewed. Learn the laws.
  3. Design sustainability strategy: The strategy should be progressive with clear trackable goals. Examples of goals are: ethical leadership and governance practices that prioritise integrity, taking action on climate change, embedding social sustainability, implementing a waste reduction plan, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity, engaging in community outreach and philanthropy. Encouraging a culture of innovation and creativity within your organisation to drive sustainability initiatives forward.
  4. Draw a sustainability policy: Once the strategy is confirmed and approved by leadership and the sustainability committee, it is advisable for the organisation to release an official sustainability policy that declares its intention and commitment. The policy can be revised on a quarterly basis as necessary.
  5. Measure and track sustainability performance: Implement robust measurement and tracking mechanisms to monitor your sustainability performance over time. Set clear metrics and targets aligned with your sustainability goals and regularly evaluate progress to identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes. Sustainability is all about transparency and the importance of adopting an accurate performance tracker is a mandate for brands’ integrity.
  6. Keep the sustainability committee active: Create opportunities for employees to propose and implement innovative solutions that address sustainability challenges and contribute to continuous improvement. Support the sustainability strategy with an internal integration and enrollment plan for the team. Also, integrate the sustainability strategy into the organisation’s marketing and communications plan. As companies achieve goals, it is important for both the organisation and their countries’ representation to promote and raise awareness around it.
  7. Get feedback: Open channels of exchange with all market segments and consider them in policy and strategy reviews alongside the tracking report.
  8. Collaborate with sustainability experts: Partnering with sustainability experts can provide invaluable guidance in developing a tailored strategy aligned with your business objectives. Particularly, experts with local and cultural expertise that provide businesses with comprehensive sustainability solutions tailored to their unique needs.
  9. Commit to long-term impact and legacy building: Embrace a long term perspective and commitment to creating lasting impact and legacy through your sustainability efforts. Continuously evaluate and adapt your strategies to address evolving sustainability challenges and seize opportunities to leave a positive and enduring legacy for future generations. n With these outlined steps and objectives, organisations can be poised to initiate a substantial impact through the implementation of sustainable business practices. There’s no better time than now to commence this endeavour. Let’s proceed with determination and purpose.


GCC set to outperform global economy in 2024 says report

The GCC continues to be supported by strong growth in non-oil GDP as the region continue to diversify economy


THE ECONOMIES of the UAE and Gulf countries will outpace the global fore- cast for 2024, helped by the domestic multi-year investment cycle in the region, ac- cording to First Abu Dhabi Bank’s Global Investment Outlook (GIO) 2024 Report: ‘Making a positive impact’. Despite recent geopolitical headwinds and muted global recovery, FAB expects national and regional growth to be driven by the robust demand in tourism, real estate, transportation, and manufacturing sectors. FAB sees the UAE’s GDP expanding 3.7 per cent in 2023 and 4pc in 2024, and GCC’s by 3.4pc this year – higher than the IMF’s global forecast of 3.1pc and 2.1pc for the US in 2024. The GIO report, written by the bank’s industry experts, examines the current global economic and investment environment, providing insights into key macroeconomic trends. Alongside key economic indicators, the FAB report considers

a range of trends shaping future growth prospects, including a focus on specific industries. The report includes focused chapters on ESG (environmental, social and governance), oil, Mena markets outlook, emerging markets outlook, global markets outlook, real estate, and developments in investment products and solutions. FAB’s outlook notes that the GCC region continues to be supported by strong growth in non-oil GDP, with 3.4pc expected in the medium term as countries in the region continue to diversify their economies. In financial markets, FAB recommends investors diversify the asset allocation in their portfolios as market and economic volatility looks likely to continue in 2024 and build a defensive portfolio to provide flexibility.

The report points out tail- winds such as higher fiscal spending, rapid disinflation and a tight labour market so far supporting consumption and spending and lifting global equity markets but notes a delayed impact of monetary policy decisions could soon take effect until interest rates and inflation come down. The GIO report also highlights what FAB believes are the five key risks for 2024: artificial intelligence, the US elections, tensions in the Middle East and Africa, climate change, and US-China relations. Michel Longhini, group head of FAB Global Private Banking, said: “Investors will need to remain cautious given the rise and heightened levels of interest rates which will continue to impact economies and geopolitical risks which could increase volatility.” “Global economic growth is expected to slow down in 2024. However, our regional markets look resilient, with economic growth expected to pick up, driven by successful economic diversification and reforms,” he stated. “In the ESG investing space, Mena markets provide some interesting opportunities along with diversification benefits for global portfolios. This year’s Global Investment Outlook theme – Interest Rate Peaks and ESG Integration: Shaping the Future of Global Asset Allocation’– identifies these investment opportunities and addresses key issues that will drive returns for investors,” noted Longhini. “FAB clients can benefit from the input and the research of the entire team of economists and investment pro- fessionals whose views have been brought together here,” he added.