Unlocking a priceless, sustainable future

December 14, 2021 | By Beatrice Cornacchia
Forbes Middle East: Feature around Expo 2020 Dubai September 2021 By Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Marketing & Communications, Mastercard MEA

Forbes Middle East: Feature around Expo 2020 Dubai September 2021 By Beatrice Cornacchia, SVP Marketing & Communications, Mastercard MEA

Ever since the concept of climate change appeared on our radar, environmentalists and policymakers have been urgently seeking ways to address the impact of this seemingly insurmountable challenge. After the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, there was the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and then the Paris Agreement in 2016. Governments have enacted national strategies. The private sector has incorporated sustainability into their business strategies and everyday operations. Consumers have started to adjust their lifestyles and purchasing behavior.

And still, there is so much more to do.

When it comes to fighting climate change, there is only one way to make a tangible impact: by joining forces. Partnerships are crucial to building a greener future for all. Living and working sustainably is the only way we can protect our planet for generations to come, and everyone must be on board.

Putting sustainability on a world stage

When Expo 2020 Dubai announced Sustainability as one of its core themes – along with Opportunity and Mobility – it shone a global spotlight on this vital topic. It also gave the private sector, governments, and consumers a chance to look anew at our roles and how we can all enact change to be a force for good.

When Mastercard joined the mega event as Official Payment Technology Partner, it was because so much of Expo 2020 Dubai’s ethos aligned with our vision for the future. Given our passion for innovation, creating connections, and building an inclusive world where everyone can thrive and reach their potential, the fit was natural. We are committed to embedding sustainability in everything we do, and we believe in the power of public-private partnerships to drive positive, collective environmental action.

Fighting climate change together

Extreme weather events are a reminder that we must invest in innovative ways to inspire collective action to address the climate crisis. As a globally connected ecosystem, we realize how events in one place can impact another. Climate change affects us all, but the people most acutely affected are those living in the most marginalized communities.

The fight against climate change is an essential part of inclusive growth and, therefore, a key component of Mastercard’s efforts of doing well by doing good. We know that the quest for sustainability is a vision we share with many others, and Expo 2020 Dubai is a fantastic example where priority action for the environment is planned, executed, and scaled for reach and impact.

Many businesses want to take positive action for the environment, but are paralyzed by the enormity of the challenge, or the fear of doing it the wrong way. The reality, of course, is that the biggest risk comes from doing nothing at all. In order to truly make a difference, the public and private sectors need to invest in partnerships to meet these goals, and inspire stakeholders to be part of the solution. We must all step up to help solve this global challenge together.

Joining a global partnership

Mastercard has a longstanding track record in applying our technology and insights to create commercially sustainable social impact with our partners in the public and private sector. Every day, we are focused on building an inclusive, sustainable digital economy where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Over many years, we have been focused on creating pathways to financial security and fostering inclusive growth for underserved communities around the world.

By building on this experience, we established the Priceless Planet Coalition last year – a platform that enables us to fight climate change with the help of our partners and consumers. The Coalition unites cities, banks, merchants and consumers as part of a global movement to restore 100 million trees by 2025, from Australia to Brazil to efforts right here in the UAE.

Why trees? Trees are the heart of nature's livelihood, as they protect the air we breathe, the wildlife that roam our planet, and the climate we need to survive.

We are honored to have Expo 2020 Dubai as a strategic partner of this global partnership as we aim to further support its sustainability efforts through the Coalition. Today, we have more than 70 global partners, including Emirates NBD, HSBC and Network International signed up.

All of our partners have committed to running initiatives and campaigns to encourage climate action. Through partnership and collaboration, everyone can contribute to healthier ecosystems, richer biodiversity, and greener societies for future generations.

Showcasing a Priceless future at Expo 2020 Dubai

As the biggest event ever to be staged in the region, Expo 2020 Dubai is a fantastic platform to galvanize action for the environment. As Official Payments Technology Partner, we are giving visitors who buy tickets online the opportunity to donate to the Coalition while planning their trip to the mega event.

Mastercard also has a separate, interactive installation dedicated to the Priceless Planet Coalition, where millions of Expo visitors can learn more about Mastercard’s efforts in bringing together governments, businesses and consumers in combatting the effects of climate change.

More importantly, the installation will offer visitors an opportunity to join the movement, become part of the network, and contribute towards a greener future. We want everyone to help change the course and trajectory of climate change so we can protect nature’s agility and help it to flourish again.

Walking the talk

As companies and organizations, there are things we do independently, and projects where we can work together. Mastercard is actively implementing best practices to reduce our own carbon footprint, and we are also working closely with our suppliers on their decarbonization efforts as an important step to reaching our goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050.

We have launched a sustainable card program with certified suppliers that can produce cards made from recyclable, recycled, bio-sourced, chlorine-free, degradable or ocean plastics. We recently launched the Mastercard Carbon Calculator, which helps consumers to understand the environmental impact of their spending choices. In September 2021, we also launched our Global Sustainability Innovation Lab in Sweden, which aims to spearhead the further development of our portfolio of environmentally conscious digital products and solutions.

We are not doing this in isolation. Consumers are demonstrating passion for the environment at a heightened level, and it is up to us as brands to support them in making greener decisions and contributing to a more sustainable future. Recent Mastercard research reveals that 9 in 10 people in the Middle East are willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues. In the UAE, one in six adults admitted that for the first time, they have boycotted companies that have not adopted sustainable values.

A greener tomorrow

As Expo 2020 Dubai welcomes, educates, and encourages people from all over the world to be part of the solution for a greener tomorrow, I expect we’ll see even more thoughtful consideration in consumer spending and local business support. More companies tapping into the potential of a green economy. More governments investing in the technology that can shape a sustainable future.

More people ready to Start Something Priceless – making their contribution to a future everyone can reach their potential and thrive – on a planet that thrives.

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Beatrice Cornacchia, Senior vice president, Marketing & Communications, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa