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COP28, between progress and challenges for the green transition

Adaptation and fossil fuels took centre stage during climate negotiations in Dubai. For the first time, Generali also took part in the conference, organising a side event in collaboration with UNDP

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Delegations from 198 countries (plus the EU), as well as NGO representatives, activists, scientists, politicians, and business leaders, all took part in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which opened in Dubai on the 30th of November under the chairmanship of the United Arab Emirates.

For the first time, Generali also took part in the conference with a side event dedicated to creating awareness and exploring international-level solutions to drive sustainable development and climate adaptation for SMEs around the world, especially in the most vulnerable countries.

The Declaration on Climate and Health

The Declaration on Climate and Health

This year’s theme was “Health, Relief, Recovery and Peace”, and aimed to put health at the heart of climate action, while accelerating the development of climate-resilient, sustainable, and equitable health systems.

This goal is reaffirmed in the Declaration on Climate and Health, issued by the Emirates Presidency in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention.

The declaration has been endorsed by 123 countries, and for the first time, world governments have recognised the growing health impact of climate change on communities and countries, as well as the major health benefits of stronger climate action, including reduced air pollution and lower health care costs.

The agreement to establish loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries

Dubai’s COP28 delivered an agreement for the operationalization of a Loss and damage fund which will assist the countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Its creation had been established at the end of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, in 2022. The activation of the fund was thus expected but not taken for granted, and is therefore an important achievement in the fight against climate change.

A “historic” agreement and new terminology: “transitioning away” from fossil fuels

What most defines the Dubai COP, however, is the outcome of the confrontation over fossil fuels. After talks that stretched into the night between December 12th and 13th to find a compromise, in the end negotiations overcame even resistance from producing countries. Defined "historic" by COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, the agreement calls for "a transition away from fossil fuels" and accelerated action "in this crucial decade in order to achieve zero emissions in 2050."

The Global Stocktake declaration

This is actually the first time that a final declaration of the UN climate conference explicitly mentions a transition away from fossil fuels even if it chooses a slightly softer word compared to the term “phase out” demanded by the more ambitious countries but rejected by producing countries.

The agreement includes calls to triple renewable energy capacity globally and accelerate technologies such as nuclear and carbon capture. A concession was made to producing countries recognising “transitional fuels”, which remain undefined. Gas is no longer mentioned, but can easily be included in this category.

The text also highlights that “the adaptation finance needs of developing countries are estimated at USD 215–387 billion annually up until 2030, and that about USD 4.3 trillion per year needs to be invested in clean energy up until 2030, increasing thereafter to USD 5 trillion per year up until 2050, to be able to reach net zero emissions by 2050.”

Generali’s participation to COP28

In this context, Generali’s sustainability commitment and goals to protect the environment and climate are extremely topical. The Group wants to play an active role, beyond day-to-day business, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and supporting a more sustainable economy and society throughout climate adaptation strategies and the net-zero transition.

That is why, for the first time, Generali took part in COP28. In addition to participating in a series of conferences and bilateral meetings, the Group also organised the side event “Accelerating SMEs’ resilience in a world of growing climate change”, together with the Insurance and Risk Finance Facility (IRFF) of UNDP, the United Nations Development Programme.

Generali and UNDP’s side event at Dubai’s conference

Generali and UNDP’s side event at Dubai’s conference

The initiative, hosted by the Italian Ministry of Environment and Energy Security as an official side event of the Italian Pavilion, took place on December 6th to draw attention to the journey of small and medium-sized enterprises to climate resilience and is part of a broader partnership between Generali and UNDP.

It focused on creating awareness and enabling a solution-focused discussion with Italian, EU and International institutions to promote sustainable development and climate adaptation for SMEs around the world, and mostly for those in vulnerable countries.

Generali Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Lucia Silva, joined a leaders’ conversation to discuss this topic as well as the role of insurance to protect low-income communities, together with a number of prominent guests:

  • Lorenzo Fanara, Italian Ambassador to the UAE
  • Carlo Batori, Task Force Finance, Climate and Digital for Development, Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Italy MFA
  • Madalena Bte Mohamed, Senior Officer – Sustainability Director Bank Negara Malaysia
  • Giuseppe Manzo, Plenipotentiary Minister and Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of Environment and Energy Security
  • Lauren Carter, Head of External Engagement for UNDP's Insurance and Risk Finance Facility (IRFF)
  • Ekhosuehi Iyahen, Secretary General, Insurance Development Forum (IDF)
  • Stefano Signore, Head of Unit, Green Deal, Digital Agenda - Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA – EU Commission)
  • Agostino Inguscio - Coordinator Rome Centre for Climate Action and Energy Transition UNDP
  • Jan KelletGlobal and Corporate Lead, UNDP Insurance and Risk Finance Facility.

The role of insurance

The aim of the event was also to reaffirm the key role of insurers in accelerating and scaling up climate risk reduction and adaptation, and in protecting vulnerable countries from increasingly extreme weather conditions and helping SMEs develop their risk management capacity.

That is why Generali will continue to draw attention on SMEs and promote their adoption of sustainable business models, while collaborating with UNDP and fostering public-private partnerships to achieve these goals, in line with the Group’s commitment to be a Responsible Insurer, Investor, Employer, and Corporate Citizen.

Adapting to climate change is no longer optional, but an essential goal in the pursuit of long-term prosperity. When faced with the effects of climate change, vulnerable communities benefit from increased resilience to extreme weather events, businesses thrive when they are able to better manage risks and seize new opportunities, and governments are effective when they run strong and resilient economies.