The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive economic turmoil in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries through simultaneous shocks: drop in domestic and external demand, drop in oil prices, reduction in trade, disruption of production, fall in consumer and investor confidence, and tightening of financial conditions. At the same time sustainability risks, including air pollution, coastal degradation and water scarcity, desertification and land degradation are mounting, thus underlying the critical role of integrated, comprehensive sustainability and corporate social responsibility strategies, both of the public and private sector.
On March 15 the Central Bank of the UAE announced an AED 100 billion (USD 27.2 billion) stimulus package allowing banks to grant temporary relief on the economy. This package was increased on April 5 to AED 256 billion (USD 69.7 billion) and extended to the end of 2020. Other measures announced include cutting reserve requirements for banks from 14% to 7% and unlocking AED 50 billion (USD 13.6 billion) in zero interest loans for banks to support SMEs. On March 24, the UAE government announced a comprehensive economic package of AED 16 billion (USD 4.36 billion) to mitigate the effects of the crisis and support business continuity.
According to the World Bank’s latest reports, the GCC countries have made important progress towards creating greener, more diversified economies. Heading towards more environmentally friendly industries will be vital to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hedge against the risks, costs and trade-offs involved in the decarbonization of global production. The natural ecosystems in the GCC countries face profound pressures that threaten long-term growth and development. Climate change impacts and the COVID-19 pandemic will further amplify these threats.
The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has also been dramatic worldwide. In response, countries have deployed a series of measures, including support to labor force, deferrals of payments (e.g. taxes, social security contributions, etc.), financial support (e.g. direct), and structural measures (e.g. helping SMEs to adopt digital technologies, access new markets, etc.).
As private sector development is an important priority for the UAE in order to enhance sustainable growth Sustainability and CSR Professionals need to get certified and excel in order to be able to address the new challenges, indentify the opportunities, provide innovative solutions and integrate environmental sustainability into the core of their business strategy.
To join an elite CSR community with your own signature-seal and elite business network and lead the sustainability and ESG business case within your organization register for the upcoming Digital Certified Sustainability (ESG) Practitioner Program in November 3,4 & 5, Advanced Edition 2020.
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