The General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), in partnership with the United Nations Bahrain, is organising an Executive Knowledge - Sharing Forum on: “The Role of Islamic Finance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and Challenges”. The forum will take place on 4th – 5th December 2019, in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain.

The two days forum is expected to gather senior executives of Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) across various countries as well as UN officials from the MENA region. Regional series of this forum are also planned to be conducted in other various jurisdictions.

This Executive Knowledge - Sharing Forum will be a timely and an important catalyst in bringing to the discussion table most of the important areas for raising awareness on the concepts of sustainability and responsible business practices within the Islamic financial services industry (IFSI), identifying the opportunities and challenges facing the industry in achieving the sustainable development goals and look into solutions to overcome these obstacles.

The partnership with the United Nations office will give an In-depth overview of the Sustainable Development Agenda and the alignment of Islamic finance’s proposition and instruments with the achievement of its goals. It will present how to integrate global initiatives and best practices into the activities of Islamic financial institutions (IFIs) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

CIBAFI Global Islamic Bankers Survey (GIBS) 2019 revealed that there is increasing concern internationally that banking should contribute to wider developmental aims. The report found a heartening level of Islamic banks’ engagement with the SDGs, not only in the obvious areas of economic growth and industry but also in education and the elimination of poverty. However, while some banks saw this engagement as something that should pervade their whole business, others focused more in areas of charitable givings. Therefore, the forum also aims to provide the participants with an interactive platform to discuss how Fintech and innovative solutions could present a key opportunity in achieving the UN SDGs, in addition to how to develop and adopt the Islamic financial instruments to fund development projects.

Commenting on the forum, Dr. Abdelilah Belatik, Secretary General of CIBAFI said: “Sustainability gained an important interest globally and CIBAFI is confident that Islamic banks will play an important role for the promotion of sustainability through significant involvement in activities that addresses social, economic and environmental challenges. Incorporating sustainability within the core activities of the Islamic banks needs enhanced awareness and cooperation with various stakeholders. CIBAFI is keen through its new Strategic Plan to conduct initiatives that will showcase the value proposition of Islamic finance and will help Islamic financial institutions identify and integrate global best practices on sustainability and climate change actions within their core business".

The Resident Coordinator and Representative of the UN Secretary General in Bahrain. Amin Al Sharkawi, added: “Achieving the SDGs requires a strong infrastructure which is not possible with conventional banking alone. In particular, the goals and principles of Islamic finance are largely in line with the global sustainable development goals in ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring the common well-being of all. The adoption of practices to strengthen risk management, institutional control, Shari'ah, regulatory and regulatory controls, capacity building, etc., makes it a very important role in the financing and implementation of the SDGs, all of which is possible to take shape from the Kingdom of Bahrain, being one of the top Islamic Finance hubs in the world."