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The NBB Group, comprising of the National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) and Bahrain Islamic Bank (BisB), has completed the installation of solar energy panels across a number of its physical locations in the kingdom.

The panels will generate a sustainable source of energy for NBB’s Istiqlal and Riffa Souq branches and BisB’s Arad and Hamad Town financial malls.

In line with its efforts to adopt sustainable practices that go beyond its financial operations, the group has set the benchmark within the banking sector through its four solar-powered branches, cementing the organisation’s position in reducing its overall carbon footprint.

The branches are estimated to reduce their annual carbon emissions by 50 per cent.

Commenting, NBB Group chief human resources and sustainability officer Dana Buheji, said: “The solar panel project has been a continuous initiative led by the NBB Group to adopt environmentally-friendly solutions, reiterating our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and enhancing our energy efficiency. Our solar panel system produces more than 350 kWp across the four branches, optimising both our energy consumption and costs.

We look forward to expanding the project to encompass a wider range of NBB and BisB locations, alongside realising the group’s strategy for future environmental and sustainable practices within

BAB appreciates the role played by Alba in contributing significantly to GDP and creating rewarding job opportunities for citizens

Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C (Alba), an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) corporate activist, is charting its journey to meet Bahrain’s Net Zero Emissions by 2060,” as stated by Alba’s CEO Ali Al Baqali during a meeting with the Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB) at Alba’s Oasis Hall on 12 June 2022.

Present at the meeting were Alba’s Executive Management team, BAB’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Waheed Al Qassim as well as top C-suite executives of more than 20 national and international banks operating in Bahrain.

During the meeting, Ali Al Baqali presented the ESG Roadmap’s 6 priority areas and initiatives (1) Decarbonisation, (2) Green Energy & Aluminium, (3) Circular Economy & Secondary Aluminium, (4) Employee Welfare, (5) Collaboration, Partnership and (6) Transparency, Communications & Due Diligence.

Addressing the BAB delegation, Al Baqali stated:

“We believe that small acts, when multiplied by millions of stakeholders, can have bigger impact."

Working together collectively is the Only Right Choice to realise our nation’s objectives under the leadership of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain and we believe that Bahrain Association of Banks will play an important role in Alba’s ESG journey.”

Dr. Waheed Al Qassim, the CEO of BAB, said:

“This visit is part of the association's commitment to providing an effective link between its members from financial and banking institutions and the various economic institutions. At the same time, BAB appreciates the role played by Alba in contributing significantly to GDP and creating rewarding job opportunities for citizens, while also supporting the economy and development in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

Adding further, Dr. Al Qassim stated: “In terms of applying the best environmental and governance models, Bahrain's financial and banking institutions have several pioneering experiences that can be shared with Alba which include sustainable development, green finance, and other objectives that have been clearly defined in the Central Bank of Bahrain's Financial Services Sector Development Strategy 2022-2026.This high-level meeting with Alba enhances the two sides' solid cooperation in ESG and other areas of joint cooperation.”

After rolling-out the ESG Roadmap to the Company’s employees and banks, Alba will also reach out to other stakeholder groups who would influence the sustainability of its operations.  

Source: Zawya

VERTECO, the region’s leading specialists in water conservation solutions, smart washroom technologies and smart water management, have been announced as the official distributors of the Smixin handwashing system, an innovative solution set to revolutionize the way we wash our hands in public places.

Smixin is the brainchild of Swiss inventor Elmar Mock, co-inventor of the Swatch watch. Recognising the considerable water-saving potential of something like handwashing, which we all do many times a day, the system was created to address not only global water shortage challenges, but to also address public hygiene concerns.

The mobile, fully automatic station makes hand washing accessible to everyone, wherever and whenever it is needed. From the counters in food courts and hotel buffets to school playgrounds and busy airport terminals, the free-standing system can be conveniently located in crowded places, promoting health and sustainability, and helping business achieve environmental and cost efficiencies at the same time.

VERTECO, regarded regionally as the pioneers of sustainability, already offer an award-winning portfolio of water saving technologies and smart washroom sensor-driven 3D IoT solutions. All of their products aim to promote responsible behaviours and lower the UAE’s collective water footprint, so the addition of the Smixin system was an obvious choice.

Hand washing is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of viruses. Bacteria and germs live on our hands and are easily transferred to the inside of our mouths, leading to illnesses and infections. Hand sanitizing before eating isn’t ideal and visiting busy washrooms isn’t always desirable or possible. But while handwashing remains an absolute necessity in life, it doesn’t always align with a sustainable use of natural resources.

In line with VERTECO’s water-saving solutions, the Smixin system guarantees the most ecological usage of water, soap and paper of any hand washing. With pre-set parameters, consumption of water, soap and paper towels is regulated, meaning only 0.2 litres of water is used, a saving of 90% water compared to the average hand wash. It also reduces soap consumption and paper towel use by 60%, compared to conventional dispensers.

The system delivers impeccable hygiene standards too, with a unique touchless handwash solution. You simply place your hands in the system and a mix of water and soap are dispensed, followed by a paper towel, with the entire process taking under 15 seconds. The highest standards of hand sanitation are delivered, with a minimum of resources, and without compromising on user experience.

James Fortier, Business Development Ambassador – APAC & Middle East, Smixin commented, “In the Middle East, one of the most water scarce regions in the world, reducing water consumption is crucial. We applaud the strategies some governments have already adapted to address this concern, including the adoption of technologies that increase water efficiency. Our systems are designed to significantly contribute to this environmental aim. But as well as focusing on limiting the impact hand washing has on the environment, we are also committed to promoting the importance of hand hygiene and making hand washing – a basic necessity – accessible to as many people, in as many places as possible. We are thrilled to partner with VERTECO to distribute our products in the region and to help us achieve a company goal of saving 10 billion litres of water by the end of 2022.”

David King, Managing Director of VERTECO for the MENA Region said, “We are delighted to offer Smixin products to local businesses and to be a part of a handwashing revolution that has already had a profound effect on sustainability and improving hand hygiene within facilities around the world. Post-COVID we are more aware than ever of the importance of hand washing, and by offering such a simple, yet effective solution that aligns with our sustainably ethos, we hope to contribute to the health and wellbeing of the region’s people.”

With water saving a major challenge for countries around the world, the Smixin handwashing systems have won international acclaim and can be found schools, business offices and well known places such as Shake Shack, McDonalds, KFC, Carnival Cruise Lines, Virgin Cruises and Marriott Hotels

Source cbnme.com

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The island kingdom of Bahrain announced Sunday it would start banning the import, distribution and sale of single-use lightweight plastic bags from mid-September, the latest move by an oil-producer to advance carbon reduction goals.

The statement from Bahrain’s state-run news agency did not specify how the upcoming ban would be enforced, whether by fining distributors of the ubiquitous thin bags or charging people for their use.

The ban, to come into effect September 19, “is in line with the government’s plans of securing an environment that supports sustainability and reduces pollution,” said Bahrain’s minister of industry, Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani. The rule exempts bags that are above a certain degree of thickness and those used for medical purposes and exports.

Bahrain’s move follows those of nearby emirates Dubai and Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates, which recently declared they would get rid of plastic bags in hopes of curbing litter and minimizing greenhouse emissions caused by plastic bag production.

Bahrain followed the UAE and Saudi Arabia last year in declaring it aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 — a target that remains difficult to assess and, crucially, does not involve curtailing oil exports. The kingdom’s economy runs on petrodollars.

Source: Associated Press

Consensus is emerging about the importance of mental health in business environmental, social and governance (ESG) programmes, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Investors have led the charge, with more than 3,000 signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) highlighting mental health as one of the top social issues they would prioritise.

Among the few regional players to prioritise mental health is Bahrain-based BMMI, a diversified retail and distribution, hospitality, shipping, and contract services and supply group with operations in six countries.

On World Mental Health Day last October, the group launched the latest initiative under its Happy Hearts wellness program in response to staff requests. At the launch, staff could learn about mental health, find a counsellor, and take part in wellbeing activities. It has since teamed up with a therapy centre to offer employees workshops, training, support groups, one-on-one confidential therapy sessions, mind and body wellness sessions and prevention and wellness information.

“People need to be happy at work and feel supported. People who feel supported tend to stay on longer,” says May Almousawi, CSR and Corporate Communications Manager at BMMI.

The year-long employee assistance initiative is flexible and adaptable and designed for all employees, not just one segment or demographic, Almousawi says.

She expects it to have an impact in terms of higher productivity and higher retention rates, as well as helping employees support their families and community through what they learned. The initiative followed consultations with the Living Business programme, which supports small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through one-on-one strategic guidance on transitioning to more sustainable operations, in collaboration with HSBC.

When the bank approached BMMI, the programme seemed like a good fit, Almousawi adds. “We were approached by HSBC. They had heard about our CSR initiatives. The opportunity sounded like a great way to receive support to develop and implement our plans, as well as get in touch with companies and suppliers that we may be able to work with to deliver these plans.”

Living Business also works with partner companies to create a sustainability strategy. The programme helps partners audit their environmental impact, puts in place a reporting framework, and introduces participants to third parties with technical expertise.

Measuring carbon emissions and waste

BMMI, whose operations straddle the retail, distribution and logistics sectors, already runs a successful CSR programme that tackles sustainability on several fronts.

With a significant shipping business and a logistics and distribution arm, BMMI has also focused on reducing its carbon footprint. “We have been actively making a difference year on year, and even with expanding our operations and fleet, the number has still been reducing.”

By one metric alone, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across petrol vehicles fell to 193.6kg in 2021 from 198.8kg in 2020. For diesel, emissions dropped to 609.3kg last year from 628.6kg the previous year and from 730kg in 2019.

Similarly, waste collection across its operations has improved. A total of 66,361kg of waste was collected over the course of 2019 as compared to 65,459kg collected across 2018.

In its supermarkets, plastic is a major concern, Mousawi says. “Our supermarket division inevitably uses a lot of plastic and we are looking at ways of reducing this by introducing plastic bag-free weeks, [different] packaging options and attempting to change cultural mindset of buyers which is stuck in a convenience vs sustainability battle,” she says.

Related initiatives included a plastic reduction drive and awareness campaign in the group’s offices and supermarket corporate offices, where single use plastic bottles were eliminated, the introduction of recycling receptacles in various BMMI locations, supporting external entities with recycling initiatives, adding tracking devices to vehicles to determine the shortest route and evaluating alternative vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.

And to tackle food waste from the hospitality, food production and grocery retail business units, BMMI partnered with Conserving Bounties, a non-profit food bank to collect and package surplus consumption-safe food for redistribution to those in need across Bahrain.

The conglomerate was announced as a platinum partner, contributing over 50 per cent of Conserving Bounties’ distributed meals since the NGO’s inception.

“The initiative aims to combat food waste, promote food conservation and social responsibility, which is in line with BMMI’s CSR goals,” Almousawi says.

UN Global Compact

BMMI is one of only six companies in Bahrain to be part of the UN Global Compact (UNGC). Described as the world’s largest CSR initiative, the UNGC works with global companies to foster responsible business practices in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment, and corruption. BMMI’s most recent Communication on Progress report is available on the UNGC website; the next edition will be published this quarter.

As a group that has been at the forefront of CSR initiatives for the better part of a decade, we asked Almousawi for a big idea that can help others just beginning their sustainability path, particularly as the mindset has only just started to shift.

“It is important for companies to help reinforce to consumers and customers that sustainable options – although these might initially seem to be less convenient for them – are better in the long run. Additionally, companies need to stop fearing the change and realise that it is their responsibility to show the importance of changing habits and raising awareness,” she says.

In other words, be the change you wish to see.

Governments in the Middle East have implemented wide-ranging economic measures and incentive packages for their respective Real Estate markets in recent years in hopes of driving growth and boosting the sector.

Despite this effort, when compared to global markets using multiple indices, Middle East markets are working on enhancing certain market fundamentals, which are critical to achieving sustainability and growth in the long-term.Taking a closer look, within global indices such as the International Protection Rights Index, the Real Estate Transparency Index, and the UN E-Government Development index, Middle Eastern Real Estate markets are classified as being at a developing stage.

In response to the classification, PwC Middle East has conducted an analysis of top ranking markets within such indices to draw best practices for the region and to suggest six guiding principles for regulators to follow:

  1. Integrated legal framework
  2. Land/property register and cadastre system
  3. Effective governance
  4. Proficiency of service
  5. Sustainable financing
  6. Data management and transparency

These guiding principles were developed to help address specific issues present in markets in the region. Namely, market distortions, imperfect competition, asymmetric information, and other externalities. While the Real Estate markets in the region as a whole can benefit from the six guiding principles, each country has a varying degree of maturity within each category.

Commenting on the report Dr. Martin Berlin, Real Estate Leader at PwC Middle East said: “We see huge potential for growth in Middle Eastern Real Estate markets. Across the region, many regulators are already making strides in closing the regulatory gaps between the Middle East and high-ranking markets globally. We developed six principles to act as a guide based on an analysis of these high-ranking markets to support regulators in their quest to achieve long-term sustainable growth.”

He added “We believe the six suggested principles ,when followed, will have an impact on reducing volatility in the market and have a price correcting effect, reducing the cost of living for households and related costs for businesses and taking inflationary pressures off wages.”

To learn more about the analysis, the expected outcomes of the six guiding principles, or to read in depth case-studies of different markets, read the full report here.
Link:   https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/developing-sustainable-real-estate-markets.html

Source: Zawya

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a growing number of companies are innovating new products and capturing new markets by focusing on sustainable products and services.

Companies are finding that having a well-structured approached to sustainability is popular with buyers, who are shifting more business to them as a result.

And companies with a clear sustainability focus are attracting, retaining, and engaging the best employees. Or perhaps you are reading this because you are personally convinced that your business should be doing more to protect the planet simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Whatever the reason, if you’d like your business to take steps in becoming more sustainable, this Webinar is a must-watch event.

We will discuss three straightforward actions your business should take this year to achieve better business performance and to prepare itself for a rapidly changing world.

Interest in topics such as conservation techniques, the impact of climate change, and sustainable, ​​environmentally friendly practices have reached record highs worldwide. That’s according to Google Trends data on the top searches for 2021.

Even as consumers get behind the energy transition and prioritise sustainability, global industries are looking to optimise their operations accordingly.

Initiatives such as the Living Business programme support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through one-on-one strategic guidance on transitioning to more sustainable ways of doing business. The programme, established three years ago, is now available across 16 countries, including in the Middle East and North Africa.

Leading aluminium extruder Balexco was one of the programme’s early adopters in the region. The Bahrain-based company took part in the Living Business programme in 2021.

It has since taken concrete action to improve sustainability on several fronts.

Balexco’s first step was to study the feasibility of migrating to renewable energy installations at its plants, in early 2020. However, pandemic-linked disruptions meant that the company is only just readying to transition to a combination of wind and solar energy.

“We are in final evaluation stages and would like to finalise the project and sign agreements in the next two months,” says Rayomand Palkhiwala, Chief Financial Officer at Balexco.

The case for aluminium recycling

But renewable energy is just one part of the story.

Producing aluminium from virgin sources is an energy-intensive process. Recycling the metal instead requires only about 5 per cent of the energy it takes to make new aluminium out of bauxite, Palkhiwala explains, citing a Stanford University study.

“If we are able to reduce aluminium scrap generation and re-melt scrap generated in the process, we can help achieve [Bahrain’s] national renewable energy target of 5 per cent by 2025 and 10 per cent by 2035,” he says.

The difference in energy use is so stark that traders jokingly refer to aluminium as ‘congealed electricity’.

Similarly, producing one tonne of aluminium from scratch results in about 17 tonnes of carbon emissions, as compared with the 0.6 tonnes emitted from secondary aluminium, according to energy research consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

But although the Middle East produces 10 per cent of the world's aluminium, the region has yet to mature in terms of recycling the metal. Overall, only about one-tenth of all metals in the GCC are recycled, according to data from consulting firm Strategy&. Recycling rates for metal surpass 90 per cent in countries such as Germany and Japan.

Action is needed now. Besides energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gas emissions, recent studies have emphasised the impacts resulting from the water consumption of the mining industry. The effect of climate change is expected to lead to increasing water stress over the next two decades for mining operators as well as metals companies in water-scarce areas.

Balexco turned to Living Business for strategic counsel. Following consultations with experts, the company was able to enhance its business processes, reactivate an in-house remelt plant and cut down on overall energy consumption, thus reducing the primary aluminium purchased from the smelter.

Balexco believes it can lead by example within the region, with initiatives such as reducing and recycling scrap, as well as using solar energy. And if an anticipated carbon tax is implemented within the GCC, it will drive local aluminium smelters to improve recycling rates and produce green billets, Palkhiwala says.

“Programs like Living Business create awareness and inspire, both industries and individuals, to be mindful of how they’re impacting the environment on a daily basis,” Palkhiwala says.

Green products launched

Now the company is going a step further by rolling out new products that can help consumers make a difference in their day-to-day lives. Balexco’s new thermal break window system helps reduce electricity consumption for cooling a room by around 20 per cent as compared to regular window systems. While the initial product cost may be high, the advanced technology reduces consumers’ reliance on air conditioning or heating, helping to lower electricity bills and carbon emissions.

“It all comes back to you. Recycling comes down to one person taking action,” Palkhiwala says. At home, he and his family have walked the talk, one step at a time. They have been doing simple things such as composting organic waste, as well as segregating waste like metal cans, paper and cardboard, and plastics, for better recycling uptake.

“The amount of lost energy from throwing away recyclable commodities such as aluminium cans and newspapers is equivalent to the annual output of 15 power plants,” he says. “As stewards of the environment, we are responsible for preserving and protecting our resources for ourselves and for future generations.”

Although a greater number of people are now more environmentally conscious than ever, public- and private-sector entities must continue to lead the way in raising awareness. Following consultations with Living Business, Bahrain’s Kingdom Pride Center is taking the message of sustainability straight to consumers.

“Our major challenge is educating customers to be more mindful of their choices. This would include – but isn’t limited to – choosing eco-friendly items, and goods that are free of plastic packaging,” says Alifiya Rahil Husain, CEO of the Kingdom Pride Center. “This needs a lot of awareness and a change in mindset,” she adds.

In 2021, the department store joined Living Business, a programme aimed to help companies implement sustainable projects and which is supported by HSBC bank. The Living Business team introduced Kingdom Pride to a number of suppliers of sustainable products and also recommended that the store consider setting up a recycling programme in partnership with mobile platform ZeLoop. A majority of consumers in the Middle East – 65 per cent – say they have become more eco-friendly during the pandemic, according to a recent survey by consulting firm PWC. Approximately seven in 10 shoppers across the region say they engage in sustainable behaviour, outscoring global survey participants in this area.

Middle Eastern consumers who do not prioritise sustainability believe there is a lack of sustainable options (39 per cent), that product quality is inconsistent (36 per cent) or that they are too expensive (35 per cent). It is therefore important for retailers to put environmentally friendly options front and centre in stores.

Sustainability at every level

From new products to recycling drives, Kingdom Pride Center has since launched several key initiatives to raise awareness and improve its own sustainability profile, in line with the Living Business recommendations.

The store began with a change to its product line, introducing toothbrushes made from bamboo and toys made of recycled board, together with sustainable food-grade packaging material for the end user. Over the first six months since the products were launched, the store sold 207 toothbrushes, earning a profit of 75 per cent and winning positive reviews from shoppers, says store manager Naveen Shekhar. A similar number of eco-friendly toys sold over the first year, at a profit of 57 per cent. “We have built a reputation for sourcing quality and unique items that are also sustainable,” Shekhar adds.

As a second initiative, free cloth and paper bags helped signal a shift towards ending the plastic monopoly in retail stores. “As a retail store our consumption of plastic bags is at least 600 bags per day. By switching to reusable cloth and paper bags, we have saved over 18,000 plastic bags from being dumped into the oceans per month,” he says.

Finally, at the everyday level, the store aims to create a mindset shift by encouraging the recycling of plastic. In association with the mobile application ZeLoop, Kingdom Pride Center rewards customers for recycling plastic bottles with discount vouchers of up to BD5 (US$13). “We have tried to incentivise the consumer by making recycling a part of their daily routine,” Husain says.

She believes the store has made a good start in terms of sustainability. “Trying to introduce eco-friendly [initiatives] in a consumer store can be challenging,” she says. “However, with more awareness, we do see there is a higher demand for renewable products than earlier. As Bahrain moves towards a greener and more sustainable future, we recognise our role in achieving this joint objective.” Hopefully, other stores will follow suit.

Energy efficiency as a contributor to success
Climate protection, efficient use of resources, rising energy costs, new supply models, and strict environmental regulations: For all these goals, energy is a decisive competitive factor, whatever the industry. There is therefore no alternative to increasing energy efficiency. A great challenge – but also a great opportunity. Because by making plants more energy-efficient, companies can also achieve considerable cost savings.

Energy efficiency in production – in reality
Energy-efficient production means more than simply reducing energy consumption, CO₂ emissions, or costs – it also involves linking energy and production data in order to analyze and optimize not only energy consumption but also the energy productivity of machines, plants, and processes. These measures provide the opportunity to achieve all-round improvements in process productivity and efficiency.

It's great doing business together when you have a plan for the planet.
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