The Department of Energy’s normative activities have been successful in strengthening dialogue on UNIDO’s mandate at an intergovernmental level and have played a key role in developing and promoting energy technology standards and guidelines globally.

UNIDO convenes the biennial Vienna Energy Forum (VEF), which has spearheaded international discussion on energy and its role in the sustainable development agenda. In partnership with ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy and the Global Women’s Network for Energy Transition, UNIDO has formed a coalition to develop a Gender and Energy Compact to catalyze action towards equality and women’s empowerment in order to accelerate a just, inclusive and sustainable energy transition.

The multi-stakeholder VEF was born in 2008 of a joint initiative by the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and UNIDO. In 2009, the VEF called for the creation of SDG7 and delivered recommendations to the UN on the sub-goals of SDG7. Today it continues to be a platform delivering recommendations and inputs to UN processes, reflected by the launch in 2021 of guiding principles for the integration of women and youth issues into energy compacts.

On energy standards, UNIDO led the creation of technical guidelines for mini-hydro, which tackle regulatory limitations and help countries to follow the guidelines to resolve policy and technology issuesIt also cooperates closely with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Secretariat on the development and updating of ISO 50001 on energy management systems and continues to contribute to the establishment of standards for green hydrogen, low carbon construction material and standards for reporting on embodied carbon in construction material. 

The Department complements this contribution by supporting UNIDO Members States in the adoption of these standards at the national and regional level, with significant progress made over the past two years.  For example, UNIDO's efforts helped the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to adopt a regional minimum energy performance standard for lighting, which will influence the manufacturing of lighting within the region and beyond. 

Moving forward, the Department envisages a growing focus on integrating equity issues and considerations more fully into standard and policy development. Its activities will also seek to boost UNIDO’s role as a thought leader and knowledge hub on industrial decarbonization and net zero industrial development.