Our hopes for COP28

“For all of its shortcomings, the UNFCCC annual COP is the only official negotiation process around climate. Progress has been painstakingly slow and the politics often counterproductive. But we must not shy away from continued global dialogue, even as we work on parallel action pathways.”

— Eva Gladek, Metabolic’s CEO and founder

Frustration with the annual United Nations climate change conference process has been growing over the past several years, and this year’s COP is especially controversial. The incremental, slow progress of the negotiations has resulted in an alarming mismatch between the urgency of climate action and the actual progress delivered as a result of commitments emerging from the Conference. Every year, a 1.5°C future slips further out of reach. Sometimes it feels like we are taking two steps forward, one step back.

There is also significant criticism surrounding the choice of this year’s COP President, a pivotal role in facilitating consensus among country delegations and elevating global ambition on climate action. Doubts have been cast on whether Sultan Al Jaber, who has a long history in the energy sector and is notably the CEO of ADNOC, one of the world’s largest oil companies, is in a position to drive commitment to the fossil fuel phaseout that scientists agree we need.

Why we are still going to the COP

We recognize that despite its shortcomings, the COP currently serves as the only legitimate international negotiation platform for climate issues. There are few other events that bring as diverse a group of global stakeholders together into critical discussions, with more effort made in recent years to include the marginalized voices of those directly harmed by the consequences of climate inaction. We would argue that many, if not most, of these discussions happen far from the negotiating rooms. It is from this periphery that we work to build radical collaborations across national boundaries, industries, and cultures — connecting the dots across disparate parts of our economic system to drive systemic climate action, surpassing the confines of the COP.  

Amidst the skepticism, we are also holding a question: Can we realistically expect to phase out coal, oil, and gas without the fossil fuel companies having a seat at the table? While many share our reservations about the interests involved, we hope to see Sultan Al Jaber leverage his insider status in this sector to formulate a phase-out plan that works for the industry. We firmly advocate for the oil and gas sector to recognize the need to cease extraction, devise a practical plan for economic transition, and take concrete actions. Our stance remains hopeful: we will reserve judgment until the summit concludes.

What we are doing in Dubai

As stakeholders in this process, we see COP as an important opportunity to actively accelerate our ongoing initiatives with partners from around the world. This is where we can leverage our influence to advance critical agendas related to systemic change, science-based insights, and key priorities, such as biodiversity loss and the just transition. It’s a chance for us to harness our expertise in driving systemic change to contribute to addressing some of the world’s most pressing global challenges.The outcomes from the most recent conferences have left much to be desired. We see this as a critical year for making progress in these areas:
  • Transitioning the energy sector: Emissions cuts in the energy sector can result in some of the biggest impacts in the short term. We want to see a resolution to phase out fossil fuels (without loopholes or vague language like “phase down”) and a commitment from all countries to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Finance: The global fund on loss and damage that was created last year now needs to be funded and operationalized. We want to see an actionable plan that specifies who is funding it and when.

  • The first Global Stocktake: Called a “wake-up call” by many, this progress report should mark a turning point for climate change, as countries see the progress they’ve made on the emission-reduction goals of the Paris Agreement — and where they haven’t. The reality is the outlook is grim, and the data is messy. But with a “rapidly narrowing window,” we hope this stocktake is what finally pushes countries to move faster to stave off a climate disaster.

Our focus at the COP this year

Metabolic’s team is also arriving at COP with a few broader objectives: 

Putting nature at the core of cities

We advocate for nature-centric policies in urban planning, extending beyond decarbonization efforts through Science-Based Targets (SBTs). Alongside the Global Commons Alliance and the Science Based Targets Network, we will unveil the Nature SBTs for Cities program at a COP28 Presidency event on December 6. During the dedicated day on “Multilevel Action, Urbanization, and Built Environment,” we engage with city representatives and networks, such as ICLEI and C40, sharing insights from a decade of circular development projects and programs like Circular Buildings Coalition, Circular Innovation Collective, and Circular City Coalition.

Finding “The Missing Trillions” for climate action financing

We tackle structural barriers hindering climate finance with The Missing Trillions program. Our Sustainable Finance lead guides discussions, formulating actionable hypotheses to dismantle identified systemic barriers and create a coordinated systemic action plan.

Driving large-scale systemic change

At COP28, we are meeting with leaders and change-makers to advance systems thinking in the context of climate change. For instance, we will host a fireside chat with partners of the Systemic Climate Action Collaborative. Our goal is to present our missions and explore the intricacies of systems thinking, generating new learnings that can shape the future of our global economy.

Rooting nature in decarbonization

Nature is at the heart of this year’s COP. As countries show up to report on their emission-reduction commitments in the context of the stocktake, we want to see decarbonization efforts working hand in hand with strategies to manage land and water, protect biodiversity, and bolster climate resilience. 

As fervent supporters of the nature-positive campaign, we stress the role of businesses using frameworks like SBTN, TNFD, and CSRD to embed nature in sustainability and business strategy. Aware that conflicting and obscure accounting methodologies slow down the process, we developed our own nature assessment software; we act as shepherds to help organizations source their data and navigate the realm of sustainability reporting and strategizing. Additionally, our experts in regenerative agriculture and closed loops will contribute to discussions about eliminating food waste and sustainable food production.

Circular flows and digital product passports

In our work across the built environment and industries, we observe the need for tracking materials. By hosting workshops on digital product passports, our objective is to showcase their broader significance in corporate practices and emphasize the crucial link between business operations and environmental health

Our program

These highlighted events are just a taste of our extensive program, where we actively lead conversations on systemic action with partners and allies. All times are in Gulf Standard Time (GST).

December 1st

The Missing Trillions: Root Causes

Together with our partners we are diving deep into the hidden hand brakes that impede the flow of climate finance. Our mission is to create actionable hypotheses that break down structural barriers, refined with input from global actors, to form a coordinated systemic action plan.

  • December 1st – 17:10 to 19:00 
  • Terra Pavilion in the Green Zone
  • Led by: Metabolic on behalf of The Systemic Climate Action Collaborative and co-hosted by: The Future Economy Forum by NOW Partners and WBCSD
December 1st
December 3rd

Unpacking the Climate Tech Innovation Ecosystem to Unlock the Deployment of decarbonization and adaptation solutions

  • December 3rd – 15:00 to 16:00
  • Future Economy Forum Pavilion (Blue Zone)

Speakers: Eva Gladek, Founder and CEO, Metabolic

December 3rd
December 3rd-5th

‘Cups of Courage’: B Team CEO, Halla Tómasdóttir invites leaders at the forefront of the transformations on nature, finance and energy, to share how they boldly push for a just, inclusive, and sustainable future.

  • December 3rd – 10:00 to 11:30: Transforming our Relationship with Nature
  • December 4th – 10:00 to 11:30: Reimagining the Global Financial Architecture
  • December 5th – 10:00 to 11:30: Aligning for a Just Transition and Clean Energy Future
  • UAE House of Sustainability (Action Hub), Green Zone
December 3rd-5th
December 4th

A Decarbonized and Equitable Transition at Scale

A session focused on how cities can integrate and incentivize equity, decarbonization, and economic development under one platform and help steward a new economic platform that prioritizes the lives and livelihoods of its citizens and the natural environment over excess and waste.

  • December 4th – 13:30 to 14:30
  • Digital Innovation Pavilion
  • Led by: Circular City Coalition


December 4th
December 4th

Radical Collaborations: Breaking Finance Silos and Implementation Barriers to Deliver on the Climate

  • December 4th – 17:00 to 18:00
  • UGIH Pavilion – Blue Zone
  • Led by: Climate-KIC & OECD
December 4th
December 5th

Era of Sustainable Logistics– Master Class 1 & 2

  • December 5th – 11:30 to 12:00 and 13:45 to 14:15
  • MEA Innovation Center close to the Airport and Dubai Expo City 
  • Led by: DHL

Speaker: Phil Brown – Director, Metabolic Institute

December 5th
December 5th

Systems Change: Collaborating in the Messy Middle

Networking event around the launch of Climate-KIC’s 2024-2030 strategy, designed to drive maximum climate impact with members of our Systemic Climate Action Collaborative.

  • December 5th – 18:00 to 20:00
  • Climate Action Innovation Zone, Mangrove Terrace on the Island of Hope
  • Led by: Climate-KIC
December 5th
December 6th

Workshop: Innovation and the new future: How do we move from incremental to transformative change?

Creating and amplifying alternative perspectives and concepts of the role, value and performance of buildings and cities.

  • December 6th – 13:15 to 14:15
  • Monash Pavilion Blue Zone, Thematic Arena 1 TA1-100
December 6th
December 6th

Less Food Waste, More Action | Driving Systemic Change

This event focuses on addressing the critical issue of food loss and waste through a global perspective. The session features speakers highlighting the UAE’s distinctive stakeholder-led approach, successful behavior change programs from North America reducing food waste, innovative practices from Europe, and global partnerships targeting food loss.

  • December 6th – 14:00 to 15.30
  • Kyu House – Alserkal Avenue
  • Led by Atolye and Kyu

Speaker: Phil Brown – Director, Metabolic Institute

December 6th
December 6th

Local Ecosystem Restoration for Nature-Positive Cities and Regions

This event seeks to advance the call to action for “Nature Positive Development,” by convening mayors, governors, and business leaders to showcase real-world projects and present tools to make cities more resilient.

  • December 6th – 15:00 to 16:30
  • Meeting Room 6, GCA, Blue Zone, Expo City
  • Led by: COP28th Presidency, Climate Champions Team, ICLEI, UNEP, World Bank and Global Commons Alliance

Livestream: https://bit.ly/40UEscg

December 6th
December 6th

Roundtable discussion during COP28: Leveraging Open Digital Infrastructure for Climate Actions in Cities

  • December 6th – 15:30 to 17:30
  • Green Zone Alif Living Lab
  • Led by: Open Earth Foundation
December 6th
December 6th

Fireside Chat with Systemic Climate Action Collaborative Partners

An intimate discussion with leaders and close partners of the Systemic Climate Action Collaborative on how to elevate and scale this groundbreaking initiative. The Collaborative is determined to create a paradigm shift, moving beyond siloed climate efforts.

  • December 6th – 18:30 to 20:30
  • ATÖLYE Dubai Hub, Emirates Towers Boulevard, Ground Floor
  • Led by: Atolye and members of the Systemic Climate Action Collaborative
December 6th
December 8th

Evening Solutions Dialogue: Strengthening offer and demand for regenerative products — Future Economy

  • December 8th – 17:30 to 21:30
  • Terra Pavilion Terrace
December 8th
December 9th

Connecting climate change, biodiversity and land for city-region resilience

  • December 9th – 14:00 to 15:00 
  • UNFCC Global Innovation Hub Pavilion
December 9th
December 11th

Practical solutions for loss and damage Venue: Resilience Hub

  • December 11th – 9:00 to 11:00 
  • Hosted by: ALL ACT – Alliance for Locally Led Transformative Action on Loss and Damage
  • Partners: IIED, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Germanwatch, ICCCAD
December 11th

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