Climate startups to share Cop28 stage

Green technology companies tackling the climate crisis will have their say at the UN conference

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Grass roots-level companies will claim a space on the Cop28 stage in Dubai later this year when they discuss how climate change is affecting lives.

More than 20 start-ups will be chosen by Expo City Dubai to talk about how they work to improve lives and address the climate crisis.

The companies are among the 36 who were awarded $50,000 each as part of an Expo Live Innovation programme in which 1,200 entrepreneurs pitched energy transition projects.

They are not coming here to complain, they are here to say what we are doing actually works
Yousuf Caires, head of Expo Live Innovation programme

Expo City Dubai, the venue for Cop28, is being divided into zones, where negotiations will take place. Spaces will open to the general public from November 30.

“Cop28 is a perfect place to give these organisations a microphone to talk about what is possible,” Yousuf Caires, executive director Expo Live Innovation at Expo City Dubai, told The National.

“These organisation are saying, ‘we have solutions, we need support.’”

The entrepreneurs will be part of workshops and discussions during the two week conference.

Carving out space for small green companies

The companies hail from countries such as South America and Australia, and are among the finalists awarded Expo Live funding to scale up technology solutions for farmers, fishing and food security projects.

Expo will pick the 20 companies based on if being at Cop28 will add value so they can explore partnerships and investment opportunities with organisations and countries looking for environmental solutions. The remaining companies who are in the early stages of development will have a virtual presence.

“They will have a chance to express the reality in their home country and discuss the challenges of overcoming this but in a positive way,” Mr Caires said.

“They are not coming here to complain.

“They are here to say what we are doing actually works, and if there is more support and belief in this grass roots movement, we can help contribute to solve the larger problem.”

The aim is to show how work done by small organisations to make solar energy accessible, recycle waste and restore the oceans can have big impact and deserves to be heard on platforms such as Cop28.

“We hope to help them tell their stories, get partnerships and meet climate funds,” Mr Caires said.

“It’s about them having the opportunity to shake the right hands, present their solution, their optimism and work to materialise partnerships.”

Big opportunities

For Bangladesh-based start-up Tetra, being picked to speak at Cop28 will open up the world.

“Being at Cop28 will give us government attention and the possibility of NGO collaboration,” Tetra co-founder Mubasshir Tahmid told The National.

“There is no other platform as big as Cop to give us the opportunity to talk about how the problem we are working on is not an isolated one.

“Our technology can have an impact in other countries as well.”

His team of engineers designed solar-powered desalination devices to provide safe drinking water for communities in Bangladesh.

Tetra was one of the companies that received funding from Expo Live Innovation.

People living in acute salinity affected Bangladesh coastal villages drink water that is high in salts. It often has a bad odour, carries diseases and lead to high blood pressure and kidney ailments.

The purification device can filter enough water for five families a day.

It costs 40,000 Bangladesh taka (Dh1,300/$360) and is usually purchased in monthly instalments shared by groups of villagers.

The company aims to set up a factory and distribution channel.

Another company based in Sierra Leone recycles plastic waste into products such as television antennae.

The antennae works as a low-cost satellite dish and gives families in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia access to information on television.

The company also devised roofing made from 100 per cent plastic waste.

“Plastics are a huge problem and it’s important to build more solutions,” said Mohammed Kamara, managing director of Freetown Innovation Lab.

“We want to impact more lives and give more hope to people.”

Both companies are among the 36 finalists awarded $50,000 in Expo funding this year.

Cop28 preparations

Cop28 will provide such organisations the platform to speak.

“They are subject matter experts,” Mr Caires said.

“They will come to Cop not just to pitch ideas but to also represent a reality that many of us don't understand about the impact on oceans, small islands and people.”

Themes to be discussed during the global event include technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities and finance, with topics including agriculture, oceans, food, health, energy, youth and children.

Plans are being drawn up to mark out the buildings and pavilions at Expo City Dubai for the Cop28 programmes.

Over the next month, the areas will be finalised and then handed over to the Cop28 team.

“There is a lot of excitement for the big event in November,” Mr Caires said.

The blue zone, the green zone and all the physical attributes will become quite apparent.

“Over the next month we will begin to delineate where those zones will be and allow access for Cop28 to bring in the countries, partners and hand over the space so they can build their presence.”

Temporary or pop-up facilities will be set up based on the requirements of countries.

The blue zone will be open only to accredited participants such as non-government organisations, observers, UN officials and the media. It will include country pavilions and spaces for panel discussions and round table meetings.

The green zone will be open to delegates, guests, public and private sector and the general public.

More than 70,000 people will participate in the event that will involve more than 140 heads of state and government leaders.

Updated: September 03, 2023, 3:21 PM