COP28 and Dubai – Perfect Together or a Looming Disaster?

Are We Destined to Look at Where COP28 is Held as the Focal Point in Climate Change Conversation?

Summary Generated by ChatGPT: The controversy surrounding the COP28 host city reflects the complex intersection of climate politics, environmental concerns, and geopolitical and economic considerations. It raises questions about the role and responsibility of host countries in shaping the planet’s future. It also highlights the need for a global collaborative effort to address climate change and achieve sustainability goals.


Representatives from countries and companies will gather to address the global climate crisis for the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28). A platform for collaboration, COP28 will weigh strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change and achieve sustainability goals.

Sometimes, policy forums are just conversations without commitment, but COP28 is a critically important opportunity for action; policymakers, scientists, environmentalists, and global citizens must use the mega gathering to set net zero-related targets and implement policies to safeguard the planet’s future.

However, controversy over COP28’s meeting location may appear to steal focus from the meeting’s critical importance. Some applaud the decision to make Dubai the host city; others express deep reservations about the location.

That’s not the only objection. Dubai’s mixed human rights record has drawn additional criticism, raising deeper questions about the country’s commitment to the core elements of ESG – environment, social impact and governance.  Activists and environmental organizations argue that COP events should be held in locations that are positive role models, both socially and on behalf of climate action. Dubai is…problematic.

Dubai proponents say its choice provides an opportunity for dialogue and engagement with a region that must shift quickly toward change from fossil fuels to alternative economic foundations and clean energy. That community believes hosting COP28 in Dubai fosters discussion that could catalyze action and encourage cooperation in addressing climate issues.

This controversy highlights the complex intersection of climate politics, environmental concerns, and geopolitical considerations.  This angst *should* spark a global conversation about the role and responsibility of ALL cities and countries in shaping the future of our planet.

There is also serious concern from many environmental activists on the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber, the UAE minister for industry and technology, as COP28 president-designate, with significant ties to the country’s oil-producing sector.  At the same time, the UAE was the first Mideastern nation to ratify the Paris Climate Accords and committed to reaching net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. Their participation and potential to be a regional role model may be critical to our collective survival.

But that’s not all.  Dubai’s mixed human rights record has drawn criticism, raising questions about the country’s commitment to the core elements of ESG – environment, social and governance.  Activists and environmental organizations argue that COP events should be held in locations noted for positive climate change and net zero progress.  

Developed and Emerging Nations – Pointing Fingers

That discussion practically begs the question of every critic, “is it fair to point a finger at the United Arab Emirates without first looking in the mirror?” Those of us here in the US can’t forget that we don’t stand on any particular moral high ground.

We are one of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels, extracting significant amounts of oil, natural gas and coal. While the United Arab Emirates is also a notable producer, it has a much smaller fossil fuel output. In the area of social justice, can we in the US tout an unparalleled record of social justice or racial and health equity? We are moving backwards on several human rights issues, including equitable access to health care and a woman’s right to choose. Both the UAE and US must address social injustice within their borders and make no excuses as they right their glaring wrongs.

Climate warming and the rapid pace of disasters don’t fall solely at the doorstep of Dubai.  We all own it and must engage.

There is more to the choice of Dubai than one-dimensional news stories and facile commentary focused on controversy to drive ratings and clicks would indicate. So why hold such a critical meeting in a location that opens the door to countless questions and concerns? Why not block out hotels in a country and city that exemplify virtue? 

Perhaps this is where United Nations organizers chose to reorient their focus – to look at commitment to change in achieving global net zero goals from this very region.

ESG materiality metrics – when companies or countries commit to the analysis – rarely point to stellar performance. They show strengths and weaknesses – they are rooted in a readiness to be part of the solution and own problems.  Dubai has what to improve.  So do other countries.

Climate Change Urgency is Global

Organizers may also want to remind us that climate change is not just local; it’s global and requires all of us to act. To succeed in mitigating harm to the planet, we need a collaborative effort that achieves critical mass.  We need the Middle East to engage and commit, the same as other regions. There is no alternative.

In hosting COP28 in a city like Dubai, the UN is raising awareness about what needs to be done in the Middle East to help fight climate change. This location and the conversation it engenders provide an opportunity to engage with powerful regional economic forces – businesses, governments and NGOs – that must join the dialogue and collaborate on climate-related issues. It must create a safe space for these countries whose single-focused oil economies must make dramatic changes faster.

This global challenge requires global solutions, and COP28 represents a crucial opportunity for nations to come together, strengthen commitments, and take decisive action toward a sustainable and resilient future for all. The choice of meeting location may have created controversy, but it’s a controversy that we need. People will debate and question the wisdom of UN leaders to agree to have Dubai host, but if that discussion results in the realization that a collaborative, global climate solution cannot be reached without the participation of all countries, than the choice of Dubai will have been worth it.


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Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Gil Bashe, Medika Life Editor
Health advocate connecting the dots to transform biopharma, digital health and healthcare innovation | Managing Partner, Chair Global Health FINN Partners | MM&M Top 50 Health Influencer | Top 10 Innovation Catalyst. Gil is Medika Life editor-in-chief and an author for the platform’s EcoHealth and Health Opinion and Policy sections. Gil also hosts the HealthcareNOW Radio show Healthunabashed, writes for Health Tech World, and is a member of the BeingWell team on Medium.


Editor in Chief, Medika Life

Meet the Medika Life editor-in-chief, working closely with founding editors Robert Turner and Jeff Livingston, MD.

Not your usual health-industry executive, Gil Bashe has had a unique career shaped by more than three decades in health policy, pharma, life science, digital health, eco-health, environmental innovation and venture capital and informed his determination to ‘give back.’

A champion for health innovation that sustains people’s lives and improves their care, Gil honed his perspectives on both battlefield and boardroom. He started in health as a combat medic in an elite military unit. He went on to serve as a clergyman tending to the ill; as a health products industry lobbyist in environmental affairs; as CEO of one of the world’s largest integrated health marketing companies; as a principal in a private equity-backed venture; as a Medika Life author and Health Tech World correspondent; and as Chair Global Health and Purpose at FINN Partners, a community of purpose dedicated to making a difference.

In the forefront of change, Gil is ranked as a Top 10 Digital Health Influencer; Medical Marketing & Media Top 10 Innovation Catalyst; Medika Life named him a “Top 50 Global Healthcare Influencer,” and PM360 presented him with its “Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award.” He is a board member for digital health companies and is an advisor to the CNS Summit, Galien Foundation, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, Marfan Foundation and other health-centered organizations.





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