30 MAY 2021

Need to Know: 10 key facts about World Environment Day

By United Nations

Ecosystem loss is depriving the world of carbon sinks, like forests and peatlands, at a time humanity can least afford it. The emergence of COVID-19 has also shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be. By shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses – to spread.
Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.

This year, World Environment Day is focused on ecosystem restoration and its theme is “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”
This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.
Ecosystem restoration is a global undertaking at massive scale. It means repairing billions of hectares of land – an area greater than China or the USA – so that people have access to food, clean water and jobs.
Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown for three consecutive years and the planet is on pace for potentially catastrophic climate change.
Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and over the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands. 
As much as 50 percent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 percent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.
Over 4.7 million hectares of forests – an area larger than Denmark – are lost every year.
Nearly 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is discharged to our oceans and rivers without treatment.
Wetlands are being drained for agriculture, with some 87 percent lost globally in the last 300 years.
Present in more than 180 countries, peatlands are vital, super-powered ecosystems. Though they cover only 3 per cent of the world’s land, they store nearly 30 per cent of its soil carbon.

03 OCT 2021

Why collective innovation is key to a sustainable future for MENA

By Prashant Saran / Director of Operations, Amazon MENA

You click ‘buy’ and a short while later your package arrives at your door – a simple, seamless experience that conceals the technology, scale, and operational excellence behind it.

At Amazon’s DXB3 fulfilment centre in Dubai, our largest in the UAE, our customer-obsessed employees pick and pack millions of products1 . More and more customers are demanding the convenience this sports stadium-sized space provides. But they are calling for it at a crucial moment for the planet.

That same fulfilment centre is now home to a glistening new solar photovoltaic rooftop2 . Expected to have an emissions-reducing impact equivalent to the planting of more than 40,000 tree seedlings, it is a fantastic achievement and an important milestone.

However, it is just the beginning of a long and complex journey in terms of what needs to be done to mitigate the severe repercussions of climate change. For Amazon, solar rooftops are only one part of our endeavour. We have committed to reducing the environmental impact of our operations in the MENA region at every stage3  − from our network of buildings, to our packaging, transportation, and last mile delivery.

But no one organisation, or country for that matter, can fight the climate crisis alone.

The scale and speed of change requires focused and simultaneous action across industries and nations. We have to work together to implement a collaborative cycle of change – one that encompasses innovative technology and business models, public policy environment to foster the innovation, and the businesses and organisations to adopt and implement them in their core strategy.

In short, the need to work together to solve this issue has never been more urgent.

An appetite for change

Scientists tell us that we have a small window of opportunity to make headway on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 20504 . In MENA, the situation is perhaps even starker – the region has been described as a climate change hotspot5  where summers warm faster than the rest of the world. The related impacts of failing to act − on living conditions, on agriculture, on water scarcity6  − will be felt across societies.

The MENA region clearly recognises the scale of this challenge. Across the countries where we operate – UAE7 , Saudi Arabia8  and Egypt9  – governments are indeed acting, and they have announced sustainability agendas with an intent to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy such as solar.

This is being backed financially, with institutions including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund10 , Mubadala and others integrating sustainability into their investment decisions11 . Mubadala subsidiary Masdar, for example, has invested nearly $20 billion globally in renewable and sustainable projects12 , including Saudi Arabia’s first wind farm13 .

This imperative for change has created a fertile environment for businesses to embrace innovations in technology and business models and drive the cycle that will help us achieve our climate goals.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Amazon’s MENA sustainability roadmap focuses on creating energy-efficient infrastructure, transforming our transportation network and reducing waste in our packaging. And while we’ve been inventing heavily in this area, this is also an area where we are calling for collaboration from innovators across the region.

This provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Globally, there are compelling examples of how this can work with pay off for all parties involved.

Take our transportation network. In 2019, Amazon partnered with electric truck start-up Rivian after seeing the potential in its customisable skateboard platform14 . Together we developed a first-of-its-kind delivery vehicle, and an order for 100,000 electric vehicles was placed. Some of these vehicles are already delivering products in the US, and 10,000 in total will be on the road by 2022. Meanwhile, Rivian’s latest round of funding raised $2.65 billion15 .

On the infrastructure front, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund invested in CarbonCure16 . The company manufactures technologies that consume carbon dioxide in concrete during production, permanently sequestering the CO2 and enabling the reduction of cement content in mixes without compromising performance. Amazon will use the technology to help reduce the impact of many of its new buildings, including HQ2 in the US state of Virginia.

Calling all innovators


Technology innovators in MENA should take inspiration from these global examples. Green solutions that not only help the environment but also create value in terms of cost savings, new revenue streams, or improving supply chain resilience are the blueprint for success.

Amazon is a young company in this region and, as we continue to grow, we are committed to doing so sustainably and responsibly. We encourage local entrepreneurs, start-ups, and innovators to join us to help deliver the solutions that combat climate change and do so with innovations that are specifically designed to withstand our region’s unique climate conditions.

So, if you’re working on a game-changing innovation that could help as we progress along our roadmap, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

With swift, collective action between businesses, innovators, and governments, we can build an ecosystem of change that will secure a brighter future for our communities – and for the planet.

03 OCT 2021

Need to Know: 10 key facts about International Youth Day

By United Nations
International Youth Day 2021 takes place on August 12 – the annual celebration aims to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and to highlight the potential of youth as active partners in the global society.

  • International Youth Day is celebrated annually on 12 August to bring youth issues to the attention of the international community and to celebrate the potential of youth as active partners in the global society.
  • The theme of International Youth Day 2021 is, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.
  • It has been acknowledged that there is a need for inclusive support mechanisms that ensure youth continue to amplify efforts collectively and individually to restore the planet and protect life, while integrating biodiversity in the transformation of food systems.
  • During the 2021 ECOSOC Youth Forum (EYF), the issues and priorities highlighted by young participants included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly related to its effect on human health, the environment, and food systems.
  • As part of the official outcome recommendations of the EYF, young participants stressed the importance of working towards more equitable food systems.
  • In addition, they highlighted the need for youth to make informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment.
  • There were also recommendations on providing adequate capacity development with respect to the resilience of food systems, in particular during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.
  • Food systems include not only the basic elements of how we get food from farms to the table, but also all of the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population, and the negative externalities that can be generated during the process, such as air and ocean pollution as well as desertification.
  • Through youth education, engagement, innovation and entrepreneurial solutions, this year’s International Youth Day aims to provide a platform for young people to continue the momentum from the EYF in the lead up to the high-level Food Systems Summit.
  • This year, International Youth Day will be virtually convened by DESA in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Major Group for Children and Youth.

27 JUN 2021

The shift toward sustainable investments

By Cornelius Matthes, Chief Executive Officer / Dii Desert Energy

Is it often good to look at capital markets as an indicator for important future trends. They generally value companies on future expectations and sometimes anticipate important trends via massive shifts in flows and portfolio allocations. Last year has seen a crazy ride, with some of the strongest corrections in recent times, as also shown by the volatility indicator VIX at a historic high even above the financial crisis, so sometimes capital markets tend to exaggerate and create bubbles as well.

Early movers into renewable energy have been highly rewarded, as long term stock prices of companies like Orsted or Iberdrola show. This is in sharp contrast to utility and energy companies that did not move in this direction - while the early movers have multiplied their market value, the latter have lost in some cases up to over 80 percent and been completely marginalised. 

A recent study by the IEA/Imperial College finds that renewable energy stocks not only massively outperform conventional energy, but even at a lower volatility. The fact that climate change risks were finally widely recognized caused a big paradigm shift toward sustainable investments, accelerating this development.

While we need to be wary of greenwashing, this trend is very powerful and more and more banks completely abandon any financing of fossil fuels. Insurers dump utilities not exiting from coal and the question is how long capital will actually be available for fossil fuel projects.

All of this has profound implications and points towards a truly exciting and disruptive decade with fast defossilization.

We need to deliver the main chunk of the energy transition in this decade, otherwise it will be too late. So act now and fast and join us on our mission 'No Emissions'.