The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) have unveiled the first details of a plan to work towards a sustainable trade and innovation hub in Dubai.
As a first step, the partnership will see the two organisations reach a grant agreement in which the ITFC will finance a feasibility study conducted by CISL and the subsequent development of a blueprint for the hub. Further details and a project timeline have yet to be revealed.
“This is just the start – we will definitely have more to work on together after the study is finished. We have spoken about how to expand our co-operation with the institute,” ITFC CEO Hani Sonbol told GTR in Abuja last week. “The ultimate goal is to have a tech hub for Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member countries in Dubai.”
The ITFC hopes the initiative will explore and raise awareness about the contribution of Islamic finance instruments to sustainability and its overlap with sustainable conventional finance. Other areas of common interest include green trade fintech solutions, research and publications, training and education.
Thomas Verhagen, senior programme manager at CISL, tells GTR that the study will be based on CISL’s previous work on fintech for sustainability. This will include learnings from a report published last year entitled Catalysing fintech for sustainability: Lessons from multi-sector innovation, which presents recommendations on how to design collaboration between multinationals, financial institutions and startups in order to better harness fintech to help solve sustainability challenges in the real economy (an area of increasing interest to GTR readers).
The report was commissioned by the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), set up some eight years ago by the chief executives of some of the world’s biggest banks to lead the industry in collectively directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.
“In terms of sustainability, today we have bigger obstacles and challenges that have to be met,” Sonbol said.
CISL is an academic institution within the University of Cambridge. It builds sustainability leadership capacity to tackle critical global challenges, and engages in partnerships for shaping the future of sustainability through innovation, policy advancement and technology development.