In recent years Sharjah has taken steps to align public financing with environmental and socio-economic priorities, leveraging local business’ expertise and inherent advantages. As such, the COP28 UN Conference on Climate Change hosted by the UAE in November 2023 presented a key opportunity for Sharjah to showcase its progress in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributing to the UAE’s commitment to become a net-zero economy by 2050.

Sustainable Finance

In February 2023 Sharjah began taking orders for the sale of nine-year sustainable bonds denominated in US dollars. The initial price guidance was approximately 310 basis points over US Treasuries maturing that month.

The bond issuance followed the publication of Sharjah’s Sustainable Financing Framework, which received a favourable second-party opinion from international credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings across all assessment criteria, particularly reporting. The framework aligns with the UAE’s 2050 net-zero target, the goals of the UAE Centennial 2071 plan and the UN SDGs. It clearly states Sharjah’s commitment to allocating the net proceeds raised under the framework exclusively to finance or refinance eligible environmental or social projects, with 14 eligible categories.

The issuance marked a significant step for the emirate in covering $4.7bn in financing requirements in 2023, made up of a $2.3bn budgeted deficit and $2.4bn in maturing bank loans. While part of the proceeds under social categories are expected to cover various recurrent expenditure, Sharjah’s government has set a clear path towards sustainable economic development, aided by the actions of public authorities and partners.

Development Directions

With Sharjah positioning itself as a family-oriented and culturally rich destination, residential and tourism projects are on the rise, offering opportunities to implement sustainability concepts (see Tourism & Culture chapter). The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority is making progress on three major real estate ventures: Sharjah Sustainable City, an eco-friendly community powered by green energy; Maryam Island, a waterfront development with luxury residential apartments; and Ajwan Residences, located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman and set for completion in 2024.

With community development posing a host of environmental challenges, Sharjah’s BEEAH Group, established in 2007 as a public-private company, has refined its services across multiple verticals and undertaken large-scale projects, with the company’s waste-toenergy plant a case in point. Operational since 2022, it has achieved a 90% waste diversion rate and targets the conversion of 300,000 tonnes of waste into 30 MW of low-carbon electricity capacity per year.

In the tourism sector, the Sharjah Tourism and Commerce Development Authority, along with other government entities, is working to enhance the emirate’s position as a leading destination for experiential travel and promote sustainable tourism by leveraging its natural landscape and rich history. The rise in sustainable tourism and Sharjah’s developments in the field are expected to contribute to employment opportunities for communities in remote regions.

Window for Engagement

COP28 offered an opportunity to showcase Sharjah’s progress and catalyse new initiatives in the niches where the emirate aims to position its economy. As such, the authorities have been focusing outreach efforts in this direction. The latest edition of Sharjah Diplomatic Day in March 2023 exemplifies this commitment. The event united 71 representatives, including 41 ambassadors and consuls from 55 countries, at BEEAH Group’s headquarters in order to discuss environmental and social challenges, and highlight the emirate’s priorities and capabilities to address them. Given this context, Sharjah is likely to capitalise on the political and economic momentum to seize new opportunities, with the emirate emerging at the meeting of business and environmental priorities.