Climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality are global megatrends reshaping our world. We are witnessing a significant increase in both awareness and activity across all stakeholder groups, with employees, investors, clients, and consumers all calling for change. Business and brands have no choice but to respond.

Last week, our team attended the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi to hear the latest ways businesses and brands are incorporating sustainable practices. Hear from Sophie Macleod, Digital Director, Carat MENA as she shares her round up of the event and how brands with a social purpose will be important to engaging consumers in the future.

The World Future Energy Summit hosted by Masdar at ADNEC (as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week), brought together thought leaders and experts from across the globe to share knowledge, showcase innovation and inspire the acceleration of a sustainable future.

From Solar and Clean Energy to Smart Cities, Climate & Environment and beyond, the summit brought together representatives from a multitude of industries with a shared goal of advancing energy efficiency, clean technologies, renewable energy solutions and innovations.

The Middle East and Africa has never been more central in the global climate change conversation, playing host to both COP27 in Egypt in 2022, and COP28 in UAE later this year, and the summit presented yet another opportunity for the region to take center stage, reaffirming itself as a hotbed of innovation and intent in accelerating net zero and growing the green economy.

One of the celebrated highlights on the agenda was the inaugural Green Hydrogen Summit, which championed the growing importance of green hydrogen’s role in energy transition and the global effort to achieve net zero. Topics ranged from developments in hydrogen storage, conversion, production, transport and use, plus additional panel sessions throughout the event which discussed hydrogen’s value chain, innovation, and associated industries; this was certain to move green hydrogen up the agenda ahead of COP28.

Pioneering technology was at the heart of innovation throughout the summit, but amongst the sessions that sparked a particular interest were those that addressed how data-driven digital initiatives were helping to steer a sustainable future, not least the capabilities of AI in building Smart Cities but also in other environmental efforts.

The use of AI in making predictions is something that resonates well to us media folk - in this instance the use of AI in predicting future deforestation hotspots was a personal highlight for our team. We heard from Blue Forest, a startup local to us in the UAE, about how it has accelerated its efforts in restoring mangrove forests around the world by leveraging AI algorithms in a proprietary platform that the team there have developed. The platform marries multiple robust data sets together to provide a highly accurate 5-10 year forecast of where deforestation is likely to occur so that they can optimise their efforts in the right locations.

In another session, AWS shared how they’re helping the Natural History Museum’s scientists using AI and machine learning to identify and catalogue species, and conduct historical analyses on their DNA to see what was there before, what’s there now, and to forecast what’s going to happen in the future. This enables the team to accurately predict the impact that new infrastructure might have on biodiversity in locations around the globe.

And this is just skimming the surface of the wealth of innovations, ideas and inspiring technologies that were showcased across the 3-day event. 

At Dentsu, we’re proud to be one of the first companies in the world to have its Net Zero target validated by the globally recognised Sciences Based Targets initiative and our appetite for sustainable growth has never been bigger.

Locally, we’re making progress with initiatives like our partnership with Sacred Groves which focuses on converting our depreciated electronic assets into the protection of forests and natural habitats around the world. The devices sold go back to consumers in emerging markets, thus promoting a circular economy, and reducing the risk of electronic equipment ending up in landfills.

Looking forward, our focus will be on the local roll out of our Media Decarbonisation strategy, which will integrate carbon emissions data directly into our proprietary CCS Planner system, the planning system used by all dentsu teams around the world.

This will ensure, for the first time ever, brands can set clear carbon targets for campaigns and model alternative scenarios for optimal impact, reach and carbon levels, long before any third-party investment is made, or resources committed.

Earlier this week, UAE President H.H.Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayhan announced that 2023 will be the ‘Year of Sustainability’ in the UAE. We look forward to being part of this journey and supporting our clients, partners and people in fulfilling our role to support action and innovation in the field of sustainability.