Residents rate the UAE government highly for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments, well above the global average
This year’s annual SEC Newgate ESG Monitor survey has revealed that UAE residents’ top 3 ESG concerns are protecting the environment, climate change and looking after the workforce
Around 3 in 4 in the UAE agree that corporations should be penalised for lack of action on key ESG issues
Dubai, UAE, 20 October 2022: For many in the UAE, 2022 represents a year marked by optimism. Nearly all participants (97%) felt that things in the UAE are heading in the right direction, well above the more pessimistic global average of 46%. Survey participants rated the UAE government highly for its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) performance, in sharp contrast to the relatively low global average of just 5.5 out of 10.
Just weeks before the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in Egypt, the global strategic communications and advocacy group SEC Newgate has revealed the results of their annual global research study – the SEC Newgate ESG Monitor – examining what consumers expect of corporates and governments on ESG. This includes how well they think businesses, politicians and public bodies are doing at delivering the promise of a world focused on creating a greener, fairer and more transparent society.
Following the inaugural survey in 2021, this year’s study was expanded to include the UAE, with over 12,000 people across 12 countries and territories including; Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States and the UAE.
When asked an open-response question about the one ESG issue they feel is most important for companies in the UAE to focus on, residents said protecting the environment (15%), addressing climate change (12%) and workers’ conditions and pay (12%) were the front-runners.
In the lead up to COP28 at Dubai Expo City next year, many residents of the UAE are already well-aware of the terms ‘ESG’ and ‘Net Zero’, with 27% of those asked claiming a good understanding of ESG and 22% of Net Zero. This is in contrast to significantly lower global averages of 15% and 17% respectively.
When it comes to the top priorities for the UAE’s future, 33% of participants placed addressing the rising cost of living in their top three, tied with 33% nominating improving pay and conditions for workers, followed by 27% choosing quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.
Among the other key findings from the UAE survey:
o Around three in five participants in the UAE (62%) claimed to actively research company ESG activities or performance (almost double the global average of just 33% doing so at least sometimes) – with social media and search engines tied equally as the top sources of information; both identified by 56% of participants who refer there for further details.
o When it comes to perceived ESG performance for specific industries in the UAE, the highest ratings were awarded to:
o Airlines with an average of 8.3 out of 10 (compared to 5.4 globally)
o Healthcare at 8.2 (6.2 globally)
o Technology and telecommunications at 8.2 (6.1 globally)
o Community activism on ESG issues is generally higher in the UAE than the global total. Around three in five in the UAE reported having purchased (63%) or avoided (60%) a product or service in response to an ESG issue.
SEC Newgate CEO and founder Fiorenzo Tagliabue said, “Our second annual SEC Newgate ESG Monitor shows that action on ESG issues is a must for businesses around the world. ESG, despite global geopolitical issues, remains a key issue of our time. People, especially younger generations, expect the business community to use its leadership and power to drive positive change and address core issues like climate change and social inequality.”
Elena Gramatica, Managing Partner of SEC Newgate Middle East continued, “The UAE is a global leader in ESG issues and the results of our survey have echoed the government’s ongoing commitment, highlighting the optimism that is felt by the country’s residents. With the UAE’s growing leadership role in global ESG conversations, including the UAE in this year’s SEC Newgate ESG Monitor survey was vitally important. Dubai is hosting COP28 next year and in recent weeks, the UAE government has demonstrated further commitment by announcing the formation of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA), which will drive the UAE’s commitment towards net zero by 2050.
“This research shows that ESG is still a major communications challenge and reputational issue for businesses. We see around 82% of those surveyed in the UAE saying that companies should communicate their ESG efforts more clearly, following the lead of the UAE government.”