Home Data COP28 sustainable finance TechSprint winners announced in UAE

COP28 sustainable finance TechSprint winners announced in UAE

COP28: Attendees during the event at Expo City Dubai in the UAE | Credit: UN Climate Change / COP 28 / Anthony Fleyhan [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/]

Teams from Hong Kong, UK and Singapore have won a hackathon-style fintech competition that has climaxed at the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The ‘COP28 UAE TechSprint’ was organised with the aim of ‘fostering innovation in scaling sustainable finance and combating climate change’.

Run by the COP28 presidency alongside the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Central Bank of the UAE and Emirates Institute of Finance, developers and innovators from across the world were challenged to submit a proposal to help solve ‘data verification gaps’ in at least one of three emerging fintech-related fields.

The three entry fields (‘problem statements’) were: artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for sustainable finance reporting, verification and disclosure in the financial services industry; blockchain solutions for auditing and enhancing transparency, traceability and accountability in sustainable finance; and Internet-of-Things (IoT) and sensor technology solutions for sustainable finance to ensure ‘informed’ assessments of impact, risk or compliance. 

Intensel (from Hong Kong), ZERO13 (UK), and Evercomm (Singapore) were selected by three different judging panels as respective winners of each category. Fifteen teams from around the world, shortlisted from 126 submissions, presented prototypes. The three winners each receive AED 220,000 (about £47,000/$60,000) and the shortlisted teams will receive AED 45,000 (about £9,700/$12,250).

COP28 NEWS Governments make fresh call for ‘responsible’ digital payments in climate-change fight – an article (4 December 2023) on the ‘Responsible Digital Payments To Accelerate Climate Action’ call for action (and 24-page report) launched in Dubai this week

Three categories, three winners

Intensel won the AI category (which attracted 41 per cent of entries), with a climate-risk analytics platform that leverages AI, satellite imagery and climate and financial models to measure and translate climate hazards into financial risk at the asset level.

The ZERO13 team won for their solution to tackling the blockchain problem statement (the most popular category, with 42 per cent of entries). The team showcased a blockchain-driven platform facilitating issuance, trading, clearing and settlements of carbon credits linked to tangible ESG (environmental, social and governance) assets, with an approach based on interoperability of multiple blockchains and application programming interfaces (APIs). Carbon credits are tradeable permits or certificates to emit a set amount of polluting gas.

Evercomm won the IoT and sensor technology category (which attracted 17 per cent of entries) through a solution called ‘Nx-Map’, which focuses on carbon emission compliance reporting and ‘baselining’ in compliance with international standards.

Judges included Bank Negara Malaysia (central bank) sustainability director Madalena Mohamed; World Bank global director of finance, competitiveness and innovation global practice Jean Pesme; and Green Digital Finance Alliance executive director Katherine Foster.

Green finance is one of the 2023 priorities of the BIS Innovation Hub. Its head, Cecilia Skingsley, said the contest had attracted “a large number of creative and innovative proposals from around the world to address current gaps in the sustainable finance market” and that she hoped all firms would “persist with their endeavour to continue exploring solutions to help us achieve net zero.”

RELATED ARTICLE UAE to develop national carbon credits system using blockchain – a news story (14 August 2023) on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and two technology partners as they look to establish ‘the world’s first-of-its-kind national system for carbon credits using blockchain technology’

‘Pivotal cross-cutting themes’

Climate finance has inevitably had a high profile during COP28, with a succession of headline-grabbing announcements. In total, governments, businesses, investors and philanthropic organisations made ‘more than $57 billion’-worth (about £45bn) of commitments ‘across the climate agenda’ during the conference’s first four days, according to the organisers.

The UAE itself has announced the establishment of a $30 billion (about £24bn) climate investment vehicle called ‘ALTÉRRA’, with the aim of mobilising $250 billion (about £199bn) of private-sector investment by 2030. ‘ALTÉRRA will combine private and public capital to channel large-scale investment into climate solutions globally, including the Global South,’ an announcement stated.

The TechSprint’s organisers have compiled a 41-page report, ‘Scaling climate action: Unleashing innovative technologies in sustainable finance’, providing an overview of the initiative and all 15 finalists.

‘At COP 28, finance, aligned with technology and innovation, were designed as emerging as pivotal cross-cutting themes,’ the document notes. ‘The mobilisation of financial resources and innovative financing mechanisms will play an important role in realising the sustainable transformation needed to combat climate change.’

COP28 began on 30 November and will run until 12 December. ‘COP’ stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, with the ‘parties’ being the countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.


COP28 UAE TechSprint tackles sustainable finance ‘data verification gaps’ – news story (13 Septemeber 2023) on the launch of the TechSprint, including details on the problem statements being addressed

‘Fintech and the SDGs: a fireside chat with Aiaze Mitha’ – write-up of a fireside chat with Aiaze Mithathe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s global lead for digital finance for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), held during the Global Government Fintech Lab 2023 on 18 May 2023

‘Going green: governments look to fintech to help combat climate crisis’ – write-up of a Global Government Fintech webinar titled ‘How Can “Green Fintech” Help Tackle Climate Change?’ (held on 8 February 2022) – panellists included Katherine Foster (mentioned in the article above)

COP28 on ‘X’: the event’s organisers promoted the ‘COP28 UAE TechSprint’ via the social media network formerly known as Twitter


The COP28 UAE TechSprint winners are announced between around 1hr06min and 1hr11min in this 1hr26min24sec video:

Source: COP28 UAE YouTube channel