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UNIDO at COP28: forging agreements and partnerships

08 December 2023

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Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - known as COP28 - got off to a positive start with leaders agreeing on the world's first climate loss and damage fund, which is designed to help those countries that are suffering the most from climate change while having contributed the least to it.

While delegates from nearly 200 countries assembled for discussions on the best way to combat global warming, a delegation from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) arrived to help drive new climate action initiatives. In an action-packed week, the delegation, led by Director General Gerd Müller, forged agreements and partnerships with a series of high-level country representatives and leaders of key organizations.

DG and Al Jaber
COP28 DG with GCF

Together with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNIDO launched a project to share lessons from recent investments in climate resilience and to identify strategies that can boost successful adaptation measures involving the private sector. The UNIDO-GEF initiative will create three communities of practice to gather and showcase knowledge and learning generated by innovative climate adaptation projects.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and UNIDO also announced two global initiatives that will enable more developing countries to transform their heavy industries to climate neutrality by 2050. Germany has committed to provide EUR 23 million in seed funding for the Partnership for Net Zero Industry and the Global Matchmaking Platform via its International Climate Initiative (IKI). Both initiatives are part of the new Climate Club, officially launched at COP28 by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The governments of Canada, Germany, the UK and the US, member countries of the UNIDO-led Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDI), pledged to adopt time-bound commitments to procure low-emission steel, cement and concrete. The governments of Austria, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also endorsed the Green Procurement Pledge Statement of Intent.

UNIDO’s Director General Gerd Müller met with Mikko Ollikainen, head of the Adaptation Fund, which finances projects and programmes that help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt to climate change. A first UNIDO project financed by the Adaptation Fund helps small and medium-sized enterprises to deploy innovative adaptation solutions. 

Islamic Development Bank meeting
Adaptation Fund meeting

The Director General participated in the first ministerial meeting of the International Hydrogen Trade Forum where Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, committed the UAE to facilitating hydrogen exports at equitable prices. Green hydrogen creates huge opportunities for clean energy for the world at large. With a high demand for energy in industrialized countries, UNIDO stresses the need to create win-win situations for both developing and industrial countries.

Together with Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, CEO of the OPEC Fund for International Development, and Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, Müller signed a cooperation agreement concerning the governance of the Climate Finance and Energy Innovation Hub, which aims to mobilize capital for sustainable energy investments.

On the margins of the COP, UNIDO's Müller also met Mafalda Duarte, head of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and discussed UNIDO’s first GCF-funded project - Resilient Investment in Southern Africa (RISA) - which promotes the climate adaptive capacity of agricultural value chains.

During an event at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion, Müller underscored the importance of green minerals in the global energy transition and the need for social and environmental standards in small and artisanal mining. 

The Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit - a joint initiative of UNIDO and the UAE - unveiled a new climate action initiative to support climate-tech start-ups and innovators around the world, as well as announcing the launch of a World Industrial Day to mark the commitment to advance sustainable and inclusive industrialization for economic growth that will benefit all, while preserving the environment and the climate.

Director General Müller and Hani Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, signed a joint declaration to increase cooperation on trade promotion, sustainable value chains and access to finance for sustainable industrial transition.

On his last day in Dubai, Müller joined a meeting of the Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition (CEET), which advises the UN Secretary-General, and which is co-hosted by UNIDO, together with Jeffrey Sachs of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.