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LRQA Sustainability Leadership Series: Reading the room

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COP28 is on the horizon, there is a global spotlight on the UAE hosting the event for the first time, carbon disclosure and other ESG legislation is increasing around the world, and LRQA hosted a client event in Dubai on sustainability.

By Jeannie Ivanov, Marketing Director, LRQA

COP28 is on the horizon, there is a global spotlight on the UAE hosting the event for the first time, carbon disclosure and other ESG legislation is increasing around the world, and LRQA is hosting a client event in Dubai on sustainability. I could not feel closer to real social and geopolitical change here.

Face-to-face still has its place

LRQA hosted the LRQA Sustainability Leadership Series event in Dubai to bring our clients across the world leading insights and solutions that would help them evolve their sustainability agenda. Equally important was the opportunity for us to hear from them about the challenges and opportunities they see for their businesses.

We certainly achieved that goal. We know that the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) regulatory landscape is changing and intensifying, formalising the expectations on businesses and penalising lack of action. And we found that our clients are not just looking for a way to comply with regulation; they want to lead the charge on ESG best practice and they know that it is the way to secure growth in the future.

That progressive view that there’s synergy between growth and risk management, between their bottom line and a robust sustainability strategy, was so positive to see and hear. Especially with COP28 taking place in the same region and the same month (another milestone in the UAE’s story as a global ESG player and force for positive change), there was a firm understanding that there’s an opportunity to be seized from tackling climate risk.

LRQA_sustainability_leadership_series_DubaiWe’re in a new era of risk – all of us

My personal priority for the day was to understand what our clients need from LRQA in order to address the increasing expectation for carbon disclosure and supply chain transparency. Whether its legislative, consumer or investor pressure, we’re in a completely new era of risk. LRQA has been keen to communicate that message for some time, and we’ve restructured our business portfolio and acquired ESG and cybersecurity businesses to align to this new landscape. But are our clients in the UAE aligned on what is needed?

In short, yes. Feedback on the day certainly demonstrated a firm understanding of the increasing demands for transparency across their supply chain, driven partly by upcoming regulation, for example Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, but also by a new generation of consumers in the region who care about the origins of what they buy – in other words, responsible sourcing. People continue to be the drivers of change. It became clear to me that our clients care about their teams, and they are seeking to build businesses that minimise risk for their people as well as their customers.

The many faces of ESG

Compliance is clearly the start point for many organisations because so much new regulation is on the horizon, but the end goal is far more ambitious than that for most of our clients. It was personally reassuring to see the levels of knowledge and commitment already in the room when it came to discussing ESG strategies, but there was also a candid understanding that ESG is so multi-faceted and the breadth of the agenda can be overwhelming, from health and safety, to carbon disclosure, to forced labour and other ethical issues.

There was a rich discussion and debate that will now help LRQA shape our road map of services, and our clients hopefully took away many actionable insights to help them create more sustainable operational models and strategies.

Optimism and ambition ahead of COP28

I would say that there is a sense of determination which only comes when faced with a big task, but there was no shying away from it; the UAE is an optimistic, ambitious country. Clients in the region seem to welcome the eyes of the world, and even the intense scrutiny that comes with it, being upon them as they prepare to host the most significant environmental debate in the world, further cementing their role in making change a reality.

Above all, the close partnerships that we hold with clients in the region have been fortified as a result of LRQA’s Leadership Series event. As we did for our sustainability event in New York, and for our cybersecurity event in London, it’s about building a shared trust in the room. It’s my firm belief that that’s what it comes down to if we really intend to build a more sustainable region and world.


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