VIENNA, 28 May 2013 - A global transition towards sustainable energy systems is imperative, and the window of opportunity is now, said participants at the Vienna Energy Forum that opened in the Austrian capital today.
They also emphasized that Sustainable Energy for All, an initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, should be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda, and should be turned into a global goal on energy.
Some 1,500 participants will attend the three-day event, which has been organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
More on the Forum here.
“Energy for sustainable development is a thematic priority for the Austrian Development Cooperation, both in our global advocacy and in our bilateral work with partner countries. Over the past years, Austria has financed projects in the field of sustainable energy with a total value of about EUR 35 million,” said Ambassador Christine Stix-Hackl, who spoke on behalf of Michael Spindelegger, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Austria.
In addition, she said that Austria was the first supporter and lead donor for the establishment of the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) in Praia, Cape Verde, which is contributing to the sustainable economic, social and environmental development of West Africa by improving access to modern, reliable and affordable energy services, enhancing energy security and reducing the negative environmental externalities of the energy system.
At the Vienna Energy Forum, Austria and UNIDO have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of an additional regional renewable energy centre together with the East African Community. “The Austrian Development Cooperation will thus stay engaged and continues to support regional integration and collaboration on this important issue,” said Ambassador Stix-Hackl. Read full speech.
Kandeh K. Yumkella, UNIDO Director General, and also the UN Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All, said, “Energy is now recognized as a defining issue of our time. The lack of access to energy is a crucial constraint for development efforts. This is why the post-2015 framework should put in place a clearly articulated, global, long-term goal on universal energy access, supported by short-term targets and a robust monitoring and reporting system. We will work with all stakeholders to achieve sustainable energy for all and drive real action on the ground to help transforms lives, communities, economies and continents, and at the same time protect the environment.”
Watch Yumkella's speech.
The Sustainable Energy for All initiative has three objectives to be achieved by 2030: to provide universal energy access; to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvement; and to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
“Energy is the biggest industry that is linked to all the other industries and productive sectors. That is why my years of leadership of UNIDO have been dedicated, among other things, to the global advocacy of sustainable energy for development,” added Yumkella.
Pavel Kabat, IIASA Director, said, “IIASA research shows that it is, in fact, possible to address all the world’s energy challenges. This forum was designed to connect policymakers, stakeholders and world's leading energy experts, and help them share the results of their work, such as the landmark Global Energy Assessment, which provided over 40 pathways to simultaneously achieve sustainable energy access for all and enhanced security, while reducing pollution and slowing climate change."
Participants at the Forum are looking at ways to overcome energy poverty and, at the same time, at ways to accelerate the de-carbonization of energy systems. The event builds on the IIASA-coordinated Global Energy Assessment, and the findings of the UN Development Group’s thematic consultations on energy, and is expected to feed into the intergovernmental process on the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A new multi-agency study, led by the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, is also being presented at the Forum. The Global Tracking Framework report charts the course to achieve universal energy access, double the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.
Vienna has long become a major international energy hub, currently hosting nine agencies with activities in the field of energy. They are all part of the Vienna Energy Club, and include: the Energy Community (EnC); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); IIASA; the International Peace Institute (IPI); the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP); and UNIDO. The Office of the Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All will also be headquartered in Vienna. All of the above have also voiced their support for mainstreaming energy into the post-2015 development agenda.
Watch wrap video of first day at the Forum.
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