Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Historic first as companies spanning North America, Asia, Europe and Middle East agree … – GOV.UK

New commitments to develop AI safely have been agreed with 16 AI tech companies spanning the globe. Global AI companies agree safety commitments. The UK and Republic of Korea have secured commitment from 16 global AI tech companies to a set of safety outcomes, building on Bletchley agreements with expanded list of signatories.  in the extreme, leading AI tech companies including from China and the UAE have committed to not develop or deploy AI models if the risks cannot be sufficiently mitigated agreement also commits companies to ensuring accountable governance structures and public transparency on their approaches to frontier AI safety New commitments to develop AI safely have been agreed with 16 AI tech companies spanning the globe, including companies from the US, China and the Middle East, marking a world-first on the opening day of the AI Seoul Summit (Tuesday 21 May). As two days of talks get underway, Zhipu.ai (China) and the Technology Innovation Institute (UAE) are among companies that have signed up to the fresh ‘Frontier AI Safety Commitments’:  Amazon  Anthropic  Cohere  Google / Google DeepMind  G42  IBM  Inflection AI  Meta  Microsoft  Mistral AI  Naver  OpenAI  Samsung Electronics  Technology Innovation Institute  xAI  Zhipu.ai Where they have not done so already, AI tech companies will each publish safety frameworks on how they will measure risks of their frontier AI models, such as examining the risk of misuse of technology by bad actors.   The frameworks will also outline when severe risks, unless adequately mitigated, would be “deemed intolerable” and what companies will do to ensure thresholds are not surpassed.   In the most extreme circumstances, the companies have also committed to “not develop or deploy a model or system at all” if mitigations cannot keep risks below the thresholds.  On defining these thresholds, companies will take input from trusted actors including home governments as appropriate, before being released ahead of the AI Action Summit in France in early 2025.  The 16 companies who have agreed to these commitments represent the most significant AI technology companies around the world, including representation from the US and China, the world’s two biggest AI powers. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:  It’s a world first to have so many leading AI companies from so many different parts of the globe all agreeing to the same commitments on AI safety.   These commitments ensure the world’s leading AI companies will provide transparency and accountability on their plans to develop safe AI.  It sets a precedent for global standards on AI safety that will unlock the benefits of this transformative technology.  The UK’s Bletchley summit was a great success and together with the Republic of Korea we are continuing that success by delivering concrete progress at the AI Seoul Summit. Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:  The true potential of AI will only be unleashed if we’re able to grip the risks. It is on all of us to make sure AI is developed safely and today’s agreement means we now have bolstered commitments from AI companies and better representation across the globe.  The UK is a world leader when it comes to AI safety, and I am continuing to galvanise other nations as we place it firmly on the global agenda and capitalise on the Bletchley Effect.   With more powerful AI models coming online, and more safety testing set to happen around the world, we are leading the charge to manage AI risks so we can seize its transformative potential for economic growth. Republic of Korea Minister Lee said:  Ensuring AI safety is crucial for sustaining recent remarkable advancements in AI technology, including generative AI, and for maximizing AI opportunities and benefits, but this cannot be achieved by the efforts of a single country or company alone. In this regard, we warmly welcome the ‘Frontier AI Safety Commitments’ established by global AI companies in collaboration with the governments of the Republic of Korea and the UK during the ‘AI Seoul Summit’, and we expect companies to implement effective safety measures throughout the entire AI lifecycle of design, development, deployment and use. We are confident that the ‘Frontier AI Safety Commitments’ will establish itself as a best practice in the global AI industry ecosystem, and we hope that companies will continue dialogues with governments, academia, and civil society, and build cooperative networks with the ‘AI Safety Institute’ in the future. These commitments build on the groundbreaking agreements made with leading AI tech companies at Bletchley Park during the first AI Safety Summit six months ago, as well as other existing commitments such as the US Voluntary Commitments and the Hiroshima Code of Conduct. Tino Cuellar, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said:  As the world continues to wrestle with opportunities and risks from frontier AI models, governments, private actors, and civil society all have key roles to play and must find productive ways to work together. Efforts like the safety commitments announced at the Seoul Summit will play a central role in strengthening effective governance and helping countries strike a sensible balance between innovation and safety. Tom Lue, General Counsel and Head of Governance, Google DeepMind said:   These commitments will help establish important best practices on frontier AI safety among leading developers. The agreement demonstrates the value of focused international Safety Summits, where scientifically-grounded conversations can take place. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and Inflection.AI, said:  AI is and will make massive improvements to human life and work. But it is also very important to navigate the risks. That’s why these commitments are such a crucial step forward in managing the most severe risks of advanced AI.”  We applaud the UK and Republic of Korea for ensuring that developers globally implement the state of the art in frontier AI safety. We look forward to discussing our safety framework alongside other companies at the upcoming France AI summit. Peng Zhang, CEO of Zhipu.ai said:  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) holds the promise of transforming numerous aspects of our lives, but with this advanced technology comes the crucial responsibility of ensuring AI safety. As we delve deeper into the realms of AGI, it is imperative that we prioritize the development of robust safety measures to align AI systems with human values and ethical standards, thereby safeguarding our future in an AI-driven world. Professor Yoshua Bengio, World leading AI researcher, Turing Prize winner, Lead author of the International Scientific Report on the Safety of Advanced AI, said  I am pleased to see leading AI companies from around the world sign up to the Frontier AI Safety commitments. In particular, I welcome companies’ commitments to halt their models where they present extreme risks until they can make them safe as well as the steps they are taking to boost transparency around their risk management practices.   This voluntary commitment will obviously have to be accompanied by other regulatory measures, but it nonetheless marks an important step forward in establishing an international governance regime to promote AI safety. Ben Garfinkel, Director, Centre for the Governance of AI said:   These commitments represent a crucial and historic step forward for international AI governance. My expectation is that they will speed up the creation of shared standards for responsible AI development, help the public to judge whether individual companies are doing enough for safety, and support informed policy making around the world. David Zapolsky, Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy and General Counsel, Amazon said:  Amazon is proud to endorse the Frontier AI Safety Commitments, which in many ways represent the culmination of a multi-year effort to establish global norms for the safe, secure, and trustworthy development and deployment of frontier AI. As the state of the art of AI continues to evolve, we agree that it is important for companies to provide transparency about how they are managing potential risks of frontier models and honoring their global commitments. Ya-Qin Zhang, Chair Professor and Dean, Institute for AI Industry Research, Tsinghua University  I strongly welcome the world’s leading AI companies committing to managing the most severe risks posed by frontier models. These commitments by a diverse group of Chinese, American and international firms represent significant step forward on the public transparency of AI risk management and safety processes. Gillian Hadfield, Schwartz Reisman Chair in Technology and Society at the University of Toronto said:  While the capabilities of emerging models are rapidly evolving, it is clear that the public and government leaders lack visibility to be able to assess and mitigate the risks posed by frontier AI models. The Frontier AI Safety Commitments represent a significant step towards tangible and effective regulation of AI, demonstrating a joint commitment to best practices in AI safety, increasing public transparency, and offering flexibility to allow for change as the landscape evolves. Anna Makanju, VP of Global Affairs, OpenAI said:  The Frontier AI Safety Commitments represent an important step toward promoting broader implementation of safety practices for advanced AI systems, like the Preparedness Framework OpenAI adopted last year.   The field of AI safety is quickly evolving and we are particularly glad to endorse the commitments’ emphasis on refining approaches alongside the science. We remain committed to collaborating with other research labs, companies, and governments to ensure AI is safe and benefits all of humanity. Chris Meserole, Executive Director, Frontier Model Forum said:   The commitments announced today are a significant step forward for frontier AI safety – proactively identifying, assessing and managing risks is essential to the safe development and deployment of the most capable AI systems. We look forward to working with industry, government, and the scientific community to turn the commitments into practice. Dr. Najwa Aaraj, CEO, Technology Innovation Institute said:   The age of AI has arrived and the opportunities for society are immense. The power of generative AI and large language models is already transforming industries, but for us to reap the maximum benefit, we must keep trustworthiness and safety at the core of the technology’s development. The Technology Innovation Institute is a firm believer of trust and secure AI, committed to open source its large language models, and I am delighted to join the other global AI players here in Seoul to discuss and outline the roadmap for AI and set the direction for a safe but prosperous future for us all. Dan Hendrycks, Safety Advisor to xAI said:  These voluntary commitments establish that the major AI companies around the globe agree on basic safety standards. This helps lay the foundation for concrete domestic regulation. Professor Yi Zeng, Director of Center for Long-term AI, China, said:  These commitments should not only be welcomed in principle, but also be supported for actions. Assessing risks across the full lifecycle of AI and setting out risk thresholds for meaningful, effective and sufficient human control are the cores for raising the levels of safety for Frontier AI.   Experiences for actionable risk assessment need to be shared broadly so that mistakes do not repeat again and again across different institutes, companies, and countries. Thresholds need to be interoperable so that we are weaving a web of safe AIs, ensuring the safety not only for the self, but also for others, and for all of humankind. Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President, Microsoft said:  In 2016, Microsoft began the work to implement a principled and human-centered approach to advancing AI systems in a safe, secure, and trustworthy manner. The Frontier AI Safety Commitments are an important acknowledgement of how safety frameworks must help to address risks that may emerge at the frontier of AI development, especially as their capabilities advance. The tech industry must continue to adapt policies and practices, as well as frameworks, to keep pace with science and societal expectations. Christina Montgomery, Chief Privacy and Trust Officer, IBM:  IBM believes that effective regulation coupled with corporate accountability will allow businesses and society at large to reap the benefits of AI. As such we are proud to continue our international engagement and our commitment to safe and responsible development of these technologies via the AI Seoul Summit. Brian Tse, Founder and CEO, Concordia AI, Beijing-based social enterprise focused on AI safety and governance, said:  The Frontier AI Safety Commitments represent a crucial step forward in the risk management of advanced AI models. Building on the foundation laid by the Bletchley Declaration, the Commitments hold frontier AI developers accountable for the risks posed by their most powerful systems. I look forward to working with AI developers, governments, third-party evaluators, and other stakeholders to ensure the highest standards of AI safety are upheld for the benefit of humanity. Beth Barnes, founder and head of research at METR, globally leading research non-profit for Frontier AI model safety, said:  We think it’s vital to get international agreement on the “red lines” where AI development would become unacceptably dangerous to public safety without adequate mitigation. We’re excited to see many parties agreeing to set out such red lines in the Frontier AI Safety Commitments. We admire the UK and South Korea’s leadership in establishing these commitments. Michael Sellitto, Head of Global Affairs at Anthropic said:  The Frontier AI safety commitments underscore the importance of safe and responsible frontier model development. As a safety-focused organization, we have made it a priority to implement rigorous policies, conduct extensive red teaming, and collaborate with external experts to make sure our models are safe. These commitments are an important step forward in encouraging responsible AI development and deployment. Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs at Meta said:  Ensuring that safety and innovation go hand and hand is more critical than ever as industry makes massive strides in developing AI technology. To that end, since Bletchley last year, we’ve launched our latest state-of-the-art open source model, Llama 3, as well as new open-source safety tooling to ensure developers using our models have what they need to deploy them safely. As we’ve long said, democratizing access to this technology is essential to both advance innovation and deliver value to the most people possible. Ahead of next year’s Summit, we look forward to continued streamlining of international initiatives to ensure a global approach to responsible AI. Aidan Gomez, Co-founder and CEO of Cohere said: We are grateful for the UK and Republic of Korea’s leadership developing a framework to address potential risks associated with frontier AI models. Cohere is encouraged that in the months since Bletchley Park, the UK, and the industry generally, have increasingly focused on the most pressing concerns, including mis- and dis- information, data security, bias and keeping humans in the loop. It is essential that we continue to consider all possible risks, while prioritizing our efforts on those most likely to create problems if not properly addressed. Kiril Evtimov, Group CTO, G42, said: G42 is proud to join this coalition of companies dedicated to advancing AI safely and responsibly. By committing to rigorous safety frameworks and transparent governance, we are not only safeguarding our technological advancements but also paving the way for a future where AI benefits all of humanity. This agreement underscores our collective responsibility and the power of international collaboration in shaping the ethical development of AI. Notes to editors The ‘Frontier AI Safety Commitments’ can be found in full here.  More information on previous commitments made at Bletchley Park’s AI Safety Summit can be found here.  On 21 and 22 May, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea are hosting the AI Seoul Summit. It will bring together international governments and select global industry, academia and civil society leaders for discussions across two days.  It builds on the inaugural AI Safety Summit hosted by the United Kingdom at Bletchley Park in November last year and will be one the largest ever gatherings of nations, companies and civil society on AI.  On day one, President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are co-chairing a virtual session for world leaders on innovation and inclusivity, as well as commitments made at Bletchley. On day two, Minister of Science and ICT, H.E. Lee Jong Ho of the Republic of Korea, and the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, will co-chair a ministers’ session with representatives from countries, the European Union and the UN, alongside key figures from industry, academia and civil society looking at AI safety, sustainability and resilience. Published 21 May 2024

Silverfleet sells OneStock stake

Pan-European private equity firm Silverfleet Capital will sell its minority stake in OneStock, a European order management system SaaS provider, to private investment firm Summit Partners. Financial details of the transaction, which is expected to close during May 2024 subject to certain regulatory approvals, have not been disclosed. OneStock is headquartered in Toulouse, France and operates offices in London, Paris and Milan. According to a press release, its platform facilitates over €2.5bn of orders each year. Silverfleet invested in the business in 2021, marking the last investment from its lower mid-market European Development Fund. Silverfleet and the selling shareholders were advised by Alantra and Hogan Lovells.

Oddo BHF closes second PE secondaries fund at €715m

Oddo BHF Asset Management’s private assets team has held the final close of the second vintage of its private equity secondaries strategy with €715m in total capital commitments exceeding its original €500m target, according to a report by Citywire. The new fund, which is the largest PE vehicle raised by the private assists team, attracted support from existing and new investors, both individual and institutional. The report quotes Anne Bismut, Global Head of Private Assets at Oddo BHF AM: “With this second vintage, we are continuing our strategy of addressing all types of secondary transactions worldwide, with a particular focus on mid- and large-cap assets.” Oddo BHF Secondaries Fund II is three times the size of the previous vehicle, which raised €240m in 2020.

North American fund managers looking to Europe to broaden investor base

North American fund managers are increasingly looking to raise funds in Europe as they seek to broaden their investor base, according to new research from Ocorian, a specialist in fund administration, capital markets, corporate, private client and regulatory services. Ocorian surveyed private equity, private debt, real estate, venture capital and infrastructure fund management executives in the US and Canada responsible for $1.591tn AUM. The survey found that 83% already raise capital in Europe, while more than a third (35%) of those who do not are planning to start within the next 12 to 24 months. Around 61% say the growing recognition among North American fund managers of the benefits of broadening their investor base is among the top three reasons for increased capital raising in Europe over the next two years, while more than half (53%) say the high level of investment opportunities in North America are attracting European investors. Around half questioned (48%) say there is a preference for US managed products compared with European, while 43% say the growing levels of dry powder at European institutional investors is among the top three reasons likely to boost capital raising in Europe. Ocorian’s research questioned fund managers on what would prevent increased capital raising in Europe and found 62% as seeing the cost of entry against market upside as one of the top three reasons that could hit capital raising, while 49% cited problems recruiting people to lead capital raising in Europe in their top three reasons. Other issues identified include the attractiveness of their strategy to European investors, cited by 46%, with 42% citing difficulties distributing cross-border, and 40% challenges with choosing the right jurisdiction. Ocorian’s study found one in five (19%) fund managers questioned have been raising capital in Europe for five years or more while 31% have started doing so within the last two to three years. Currently 65% of investors say up to 25% of their capital raising is from Europe and around a quarter (26%) say 25% or more of their capital raising is from European investors. In two years’ time 63% estimate around up to 25% of their capital raising will be from Europe and a third (33%) say 25% or more of their capital raising will be from European investors. Fund managers questioned picked renewable energy and real estate the most among the top five asset classes they expect to see the biggest increase in European fundraising over the next 12 months. Paul Spendiff, Head of Business Development – Fund Services, at Ocorian, said: “Many alternative fund managers from North America have been active in Europe for some time but the research shows that now they are increasingly looking to expand their capital raising and broaden their investor base in the region. “There is also a strong belief amongst managers based there that European investors are looking to North America for more attractive investment opportunities than are available domestically and that they have substantial levels of dry powder to invest.”

Majority of PE firms see technology as a value-creation lever

The overwhelming majority (96%) of private equity firms believe that technology is a “value-creation lever” and can add value throughout the investment lifecycle, although the industry remains overly reliant on manual systems and processes, according to a new survey from investor services group IQ-EQ. Some 93% of respondents ranked technology transformation as one of their top three business priorities over the coming 12 to 24 months. The survey drew on around 30 senior executives, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed managing more than $1bn AUM, IQ-EQ said.  According to the survey, some 82% of firms still employ manual tools in their operations and, despite advances in technology and artificial intelligence, are still dependent on data spreadsheets and legacy tools for data collection, reporting and onboarding. Given the rising digital expectations from LPs, firms are looking to develop in-house data platforms to consolidate data and drive better investment decisions. According to the survey, over 60% of respondents already use an in-house data platform and reported improved operational efficiencies in timesaving (82%), enhanced data quality (76%) and quicker information provision (64%). Meanwhile, 76% of those already using an in-house platform are contemplating outsourcing this service to a provider to reduce compliance risk and ensure scalability, according to the survey. Investment in data warehouses was a high priority for respondents, with 46% either having or currently implementing an in-house data warehouse. In a press statement, Vera Huang, Head of Data Integration Programs, Asset Owner Solutions at IQ-EQ, said that the report showed “promising signs that firms are looking to revamp their technology stack and channel much-needed investment into data platforms”. She added: “These platforms are a crucial next step to alleviate the administrative burden on fund managers, giving them time to focus on more strategic, value-adding activities.”

Kester Capital acquires two consulting businesses for portfolio companies MAP and GXP 

UK lower mid-market private equity firm Kester Capital has acquired AxTalis, a Belgium-based consulting services provider to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, and North Carolina-based Polaris Compliance Consultants on behalf of its portfolio companies MAP Patient Access and GXP Engaged respectively.  The acquisitions were enabled by Kester’s latest fund, Kester Capital III, according to a press release. The fund closed at its £200m hard cap in March. Kester Capital said that the AxTalis add-on would “complement MAP’s existing presence in the UK and Ireland” in building a pan-European business, while Polaris would combine with GXP’s newly formed US entity and expand the firm’s presence beyond the UK, Europe and Asian markets.

beIN starts new targeted TV advertising service in MENA

beIN Media Group has chosen Synamedia Iris to launch a new and first-of-its-kind broadcast advertising offering in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region. With the new addressable advertising platform, beIN can now generate new, targeted advertising inventory tailored to each country. The service will initially be available in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, and Lebanon, with additional markets available later this year. beIN intends to expand its use of Synamedia Iris to its streaming services, simplifying the process for advertisers to run unified campaigns across both broadcast and digital platforms. The application is planned to extend to streaming services in 2025. Bahadir Karalar, Director of Sales and Services at beIN, said, “We chose to partner with Synamedia because its addressable advertising solution is proven to deliver uplifts in ad revenues elsewhere in the world. With the best-in-class advertising technology and our unrivaled premium sports and entertainment content, we are confident that we have a compelling proposition that will attract both global brands and home-grown organisations to invest in this new form of targeted advertising that delivers the highest and most effective viewership.” Rather than broadcasting the same advertisements across all 24 countries it broadcasts to in the MENA region, beIN will leverage Synamedia Iris to enhance its advertising capabilities. This will allow for targeted campaigns specific to each country. It will also further refine advertising to reach particular demographics and households. “With beIN becoming the latest major broadcaster to deploy Synamedia Iris, it’s time to change the mindset that advertising on TV in MENA is too broad to drive effective outcomes for local businesses,” said Guy Southam, Director of Advanced Advertising at Synamedia Iris. Offered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Synamedia Iris delivers a cohesive platform for managing, delivering, and measuring advertising uniformly across all devices, services, and screens. The platform facilitates advanced advertising across the entire beIN subscriber base, including satellite set-top boxes (STBs) without internet access, ensuring other connected TV advertising solutions do not exclude these devices. “beIN can now offer a renewed proposition to new and existing advertisers and will benefit from Synamedia Iris’s integrated single platform to unify ad sales and operations across broadcast and streaming.”

Integrating Climate, Peace, and Security in MENA Countries’ NDCs

The potential threat climate change poses to peace and security is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are one way MENA countries can address this compound risk. Climate change phenomena such as rising temperatures, increasingly scarce water resources, desertification, and soil erosion risk directly undermining the food and livelihood security of around 20% of the region’s population that directly relies upon food, land, and water systems for their income and sustenance. Such impacts could also lead to destabilizing cascading societal effects by jeopardizing already fraught state-society relations, contributing to unemployment and price increases, and further exacerbating existing conflict dynamics. Moreover, given the bi-directional nature of the climate-conflict interface whereby climate risks and conflict can compound to drive a vicious cycle of vulnerability, continued instability and conflict in parts of the region are likely to hinder states’ and communities’ efforts to build sufficient adaptive capacity. This renders such contexts ever more vulnerable to evolving climate impacts. Indeed, as much was underlined by Taylor Luck in his brief on climate priorities in the Middle East and North Africa. The Rise of the Climate, Peace, and Security Agenda Fortunately, global recognition of the connections between climate change, peace, and security is growing. Last year’s COP28 in Dubai saw the first ever thematic day dedicated to Relief, Recovery, and Peace, and the declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery, and Peace (to which 82 countries and 43 organizations are signatories) represents an additional collective commitment for stronger action and greater investment in addressing climate change in fragile settings. Despite this increased awareness of the intersection of climate change and conflict, however, only seven MENA states—Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco—were recorded as signatories to the Declaration. Indeed, it can be argued that many MENA countries have not yet developed policy agendas that sufficiently recognize the intersection of climate, peace, and security. One key arena where this shortcoming is reflected is in the NDCs, which outline the actions states will undertake to contribute to the global target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, adapt to climate change, and allocate financial resources to address these challenges in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement. The NDCs of the MENA states are broadly ambitious, particularly those in the middle income bracket,  yet despite the importance of factoring in conditions of fragility and conflict into longer-term objective setting and the means to achieve said objectives, evidence of MENA countries meaningfully engaging with these risks is lacking. For instance, analysis of the first round of NDCs conducted by the United Nations Development Programme, reveals that direct references to conflict, peace, security, stability and/or war are not as common in MENA NDCs as perhaps necessary (UNDP, 2020). Furthermore, when the intersection between climate change, peace, and security was referenced (namely, Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon), it is often with only a cursory nod, and with broad differences in how these factors interacted and their consequences. The NDCs of the next round are due to be submitted in 2025 and represent an important planning instrument through which the intersection of climate change and conflict could be more systematically accounted for, mainstreamed, and potentially addressed. Reflecting the inherently cross-sectoral nature of the climate challenge, NDCs form a powerful multisectoral tool to involve multiple stakeholders and generate coherent plans to address climate impacts. Plans do not only engage in mitigation and adaptation target setting, but also define how to reach these targets. They also contain sophisticated measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems to check on progress over agreed upon time frames, and ideally outline a costed financing strategy to aid implementation of specific actions. Given these characteristics, the NDC drafting process and its related structures provide several important opportunities to bring together climate with other sustainable development goals and to mainstream conflict-sensitivity and peace responsiveness. Mainstreaming Climate, Peace, and Security in the NDCs NDCs offer a vehicle through which various ministerial planning templates can become more unified to identify cross-sectoral trade-offs and synergies and improve the capacity to mitigate and respond to the potentially negative spillover effects climate action may have for social cohesion and conflict. Both objective setting and decisions around how objectives are to be achieved should be explicitly considered in the context of how they may impact the relational vulnerability of specific population groups, and thereby perhaps serve to exacerbate pre-existing inequalities. In other words, climate action offers an opportunity to renegotiate some of the foundational politico-economic and socio-cultural relationships that enable the resilience of some to be built upon the intrinsic vulnerability of others. This entails moving from strictly technical concerns around what to stop, reduce, or cut towards a broader set of social, political, and economic, and environmental considerations. If adaptation and mitigation measures in the agricultural sector are, for example, not accompanied by measures addressing more structural drivers of insecurity—such as insecure or unequal land tenure rights or exploitative value chain governance arrangements—such interventions run the risk of reproducing structural inequalities and increasing the risk of conflict. Identifying these potential risks and opportunities to promote synergies across multiple sustainable development goals will likely require the construction of key analytical capacities within drafting authorities, such as capacities to conduct conflict and pro-peace analyses. Moreover, as the NDC drafting process is inherently a multistakeholder endeavor, it offers an opportunity to consciously involve and integrate conventionally marginalized groups into consultation and decision-making processes. Such efforts enable groups, which may conventionally be cut off from decision making, to have an active say in how and where climate action may impact their lives and livelihoods, thereby rectifying structural inequalities and contributing towards a sustainable, positive peace. This inclusivity should, however, be conscientiously managed. Climate policymaking necessarily occurs in a power-laden environment in which multiple actors are able to deploy a variety of resources to pursue their sometimes divergent goals. Specific protocols should therefore be created to ensure equitable access to information and decision-making fora for all stakeholders, particularly those that may conventionally lack the resources to do so. This may include the promotion of participatory or devolved planning processes, the creation of representative multi-stakeholder governance platforms, or instituting clear accountability mechanisms towards affected population groups.   MRV systems could also be expanded to better monitor potential changes in intra- and inter-communal relationships, thereby accounting for potential risks to peace and social cohesion. Determining and measuring the full range of costs and benefits for all groups potentially affected by a specific objective or policy measure is critical to avoid an inequitable distribution of risks and exposure across and within communities, which may in turn entrench unjust political economic relations. Developing ways to regularly measure even more intangible considerations such as social cohesion and trust is therefore critical to periodically review whether an intervention is “doing harm” and adjust activities where necessary. A starting point would be to include existing peacebuilding indicator typology sets into MRV systems where possible, though work remains to be done in ensuring such systems are able to account for complex, multidimensional, and cascading socio-ecological risk processes. In short, mainstreaming the interaction of climate impacts with vulnerability, conflict, and exposure is urgently needed to ensure climate action remains effective even in conditions characterized by fragility. As 2025—and the submission of the next round of NDCs—rapidly approaches, it is important that these gaps are addressed. This work was carried out with support from the CGIAR Initiative on Climate Resilience, ClimBeR, and the CGIAR Initiative on Fragility, Conflict, and Migration. We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund. George Meddings is a climate, peace and security consultant at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, one of the research institutes at CGIAR. Frans Schapendonk is a climate, peace and security specialist at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT. Sources: United Nations Development Programme, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Photo credit: View of the city of Tartus from a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, courtesy of Rosen Ivanov Iliev/Shutterstock.com.

BeIN chooses Synamedia Iris for targeted TV advertising service in MENA

Initially, the service will be available in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, and Lebanon, with further expansion into additional markets slated for later this year. Video software company Synamedia has announced that beIN Media Group has chosen Synamedia Iris to launch a broadcast advertising offering, the first-of-its-kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Using the Synamedia Iris addressable advertising platform, beIN will create a new, targeted advertising inventory at a country level. This service will initially be available in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, and Lebanon, with plans to expand to additional markets later this year. In 2025, beIN aims to extend the use of Synamedia Iris to its streaming services, allowing advertisers to deliver unified campaigns across both broadcast and digital inventory. Synamedia Iris will make beIN reportedly the first broadcaster in the region to enable local advertisers and global brands to target specific, local audiences alongside beIN’s sports and entertainment content, thereby maximising the value of their advertising spend. Instead of delivering the same adverts across all 24 MENA countries where it operates, beIN will use Synamedia Iris to tailor campaigns to specific countries and, subsequently, to targeted demographics and households. Available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Synamedia Iris provides a single, unified platform for managing, delivering, and measuring advertising consistently across all devices, services, and screens. This will enable advanced advertising across the entire beIN subscriber base, including satellite set-top boxes (STBs) without an internet connection, which would otherwise be excluded by other Connected TV advertising solutions. Synamedia Iris gives advertisers and media buyers complete control of their campaigns across all screens and modes of viewing. Its cloud-based infrastructure allows them to optimise campaign performance on the fly by adjusting campaign parameters to better meet business goals, all based on consistent measurement. Speaking about the collaboration, Bahadir Karalar, Director of Sales and Services at beIN, said: “We chose to partner with Synamedia because its addressable advertising solution is proven to deliver uplifts in ad revenues elsewhere in the world. With best-in-class advertising technology and our unrivalled premium sports and entertainment content, we are confident that we have a compelling proposition that will attract both global brands and home-grown organisations to invest in this new form of targeted advertising which delivers the highest and most effective viewership.” Guy Southam, Director of Advanced Advertising at Synamedia, added: “With beIN becoming the latest major broadcaster to deploy Synamedia Iris, it’s time to change the mindset that advertising on TV in MENA is too broad to drive effective outcomes for local businesses. beIN can now offer a renewed proposition to new and existing advertisers and will benefit from Synamedia Iris’s integrated single platform to unify ad sales and operations across broadcast and streaming.”

DKK Partners Joins Forces With A Company Of The Royal Family Of Dubai, Seed Group, In A New Era Of Financial Connectivity Across The MENA Region

Share this post:DKK Partners, a leading FinTech company specialising in emerging markets (EM) and foreign exchange (FX) liquidity, has partnered with the Seed Group, a company of the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, based in Dubai. The partnership offers a significant step towards achieving seamless financial interoperability across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the broader Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). The companies will work together to enable transparent and efficient transactions and processes for global financial institutions, promoting digital solutions and financial inclusivity. DKK Partners was recently granted initial approval to offer digital asset broker dealer services by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). The initial approval allows DKK FZE to move forward in the licensing process and offer customers in Dubai and the UAE access to stablecoin blockchain technology, utilising USDT and USDC. The Seed Group specialises in diversified business interests and operates across a group of companies, within different sectors such as technology, real estate, healthcare and more. Fostering innovation is what the Seed Group strives for, focusing on investment activities and strategic partnerships. Hisham Al Gurg, the CEO of Seed Group said: “We are pleased to work alongside DKK Partners in delivering forex risk management, liquidity solutions, and expedited collections to the rapidly growing markets across Dubai and the MENA region. This joint alliance will allow DKK Partners to deliver seamless interoperability customised to the growing demands of local businesses and government institutions. We are optimistic about how this partnership will unfold in the coming months.” Khalid Talukder, Co-Founder and CEO of DKK Partners commented: “It is an extremely exciting time for us at DKK Partners as the new partnership grants us access to the offices of key decision-makers in Dubai and the UAE’s largest and most prestigious businesses. We were looking for a key strategic partner based in Dubai that has wide-reaching access in the UAE and GCC, and Seed Group was absolutely the ideal match. This partnership will enable us to showcase our business model and the immediate advantages we offer, perfectly aligning with our three-year growth and expansion strategy.”

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