Innovation is in our DNA
David Burt opened the COP28 Bermuda Day at the See Institute in the Sustainable City in Dubai — called the SDG Disruptor Summit — hosted by Bermuda Asset Management. The Premier gave acknowledgement to Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, who has been honoured as a Caribbean Climate Leader. Mr Burt and Mr Roban met earlier with the Caribbean Development Bank, which has recognised the actions Bermuda has taken towards climate solutions.
Over the past six years, Bermuda has spread the word and attracted investment. Mr Roban points out that Bermuda is able to obtain company financing from those innovators interested in creating solutions in Bermuda, for renewable wave and wind, among others. These activities will engage young people and stimulate economic activity, as well as decrease reliance on fossil-fuel energy. The Premier explained that meetings with the United Arab Emirates are exciting, owing to the potential mutual benefit. Bermuda can share knowledge from the Bermuda Monetary Authority as the UAE refines its regulatory institutions, as well as creates regulation of digital assets. Also, as a centre of reinsurance, Bermuda can provide investment and reinsurance advice or services in bilateral relationships, as endorsed by Britain. Alexia Hefti, the special adviser for Bermuda in the Middle East, led a duneside chat with Mr Burt.
Renewable energy opportunity
The Premier explained that while he was at the World Investment Forum in October, he met with Masdar and Mubadala, UAE firms that are global leaders in renewables. Masdar is one of the world’s largest renewable energy companies and a green hydrogen leader. Mubadala Investment Company, known as Mubadala, is an Emirati state-owned holding company that acts as one of the sovereign wealth funds of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Together, these firms have the technical expertise and investment capacity for the renewable solutions that Bermuda is seeking.
The largest infrastructure investment facing Bermuda is the rebuilding of the Tynes Waste Energy Facility. However, Bermuda has been taking progressive action to prepare the island for a sustainable future. The Government has now run the water and sewage throughout the World Heritage Site of St George’s. A new system will be commissioned this month to stop any dumping of sewage into the ocean and to provide full water treatment for the first time in our history. The Tynes Bay Waste Energy Facility is going to tie in all of the waste and water treatment in the country to support overall future growth for the island.
The targets for renewables in Bermuda are ambitious, the Premier acknowledges. Renewables have grown to 10 per cent of the overall energy mix in the past three years. The target is a reduction of 85 per cent by 2035. The feasibility studies for offshore wave and solar energies are well under way. The Premier and Deputy Premier have been holding meetings at COP28 with a number of interested parties to further the Bermuda agenda. In large part, it is about the investments into Bermuda.
A feature at COP28 is climate risk mitigation financing. Bermuda has the longest history of ocean monitoring in the world, with records in the Atlantic going back 50 years from predecessors to the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Bermuda also has the leading scientists in climate modelling as part of the catastrophic reinsurance. Bermuda’s “Re” businesses are among the largest global risk capital pools that reinsure the climate risks in large part. Climate finance is a challenge and can be the next pillar of the insurance market, noted the Premier: “It is a natural offshoot.” Bermuda has already hosted a Climate Finance Summit with that aim in mind.
At the beginning of COP28, Mr Burt and Mr Roban attended a reception by the Commonwealth Secretary-General that was requested for King Charles III to summon the insurance industry with leaders such as Lloyd’s and Aon. Baroness Scotland, the summit chair, called on the insurance industry to lead. Mr Burt took the opportunity to inform her that Bermuda had in 2021 created legislation through the BMA to add sustainable investments for insurance companies. As a result of this new knowledge, she invited Bermuda to become part of a Commonwealth Committee on Sustainable Investments. Mr Burt explained that it is important to be at these events “to share our story and our expertise ... there are things happening in Bermuda ... and we have already taken an active role” in many steps towards climate solutions.
The Bermuda Economic Development Strategy is the guide for the discussions in the Middle East. A family office initiative is being spearheaded by Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, who was not in attendance. There is a plan to attract family offices to Bermuda, which has always been a domicile for high-net-worth individuals and trusts. Whereas this is also a feature of the Middle East, super-high-net-worth individuals, offices and trusts also need to diversify their domiciles. A memorandum of understanding was initiated with the Emirate Family Office Association to open an office in Bermuda next year and bring more family offices from the region. This would build out the Bermuda economic strategy to bring investments to the island and benefit the local community.
Knowledge transfer is occurring between the UAE and Bermuda. The UAE has a government exchange programme within its Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, which has three million members in training worldwide. A dialogue began between Bermuda and the UAE in March with a personal discussion with the UAE Ministry of the Economy. The Bermuda Government is looking to build on this mutually beneficial relationship, with Mr Hayward set for a visit in 2024.
In the Middle East, relationships transcend generations, as explained by Ms Hefti, the moderator. Being here in person demonstrates friendship. There is a saying in the Middle East that there needs to be three meetings before discussing business. Future developments from this relationship, facilitated by British permission to engage bilaterally, will include planning and execution, as well as additional renewal agreements that allow continued work in this area.
• Patrice Horner, CFF, MBA, is attending COP28 as a special correspondent for The Royal Gazette and will be providing insights from this historic event