The Vienna Energy Forum 2021 (VEF 2021) is designed to facilitate a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary dialogue on sustainable energy for inclusive development and productive capacities. Guided by the motto “Where Action Meets Ambition” and designed as the first virtual VEF, the 2021 edition will include a Youth Day on the 5th of July 2021, followed by the VEF on the 6th and 7th of July 2021.

As a flagship platform designed to spur action, this year’s edition will bring together key stakeholders and experts to explore and deliberate on the key topics that advance sustainable development in the energy domain. Senior government representatives and leading experts will discuss key priorities, offer local perspectives, and highlight opportunities and potential solutions that also contribute to global climate action.

The sessions will delve into key priorities, showcase projects, and highlight the action-oriented steps required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, helping to forge an inclusive pathway that leaves no one behind as we work to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

  • General information and agenda
  • Side event on “Drivers for the global up-take of green hydrogen in industry”
  • Side event on "Biofuel Industry: Opportunity for self-reliance and security in energy enabling progress towards the SDGs and NDC commitments"
  • Side event on "Small hydropower: opportunities for electricity access and energy transition in the developing world"
  • Inauguration Ceremony of the "Global Partnership for Hydrogen in Industry"
  • Inauguration Ceremony of "International Hydrogen Centre in China"
  • Since its founding in 2008 by a joint initiative of the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and UNIDO, VEF has assembled thinkers and practitioners from all over the world to discuss practical solutions to sustainable development challenges and pave the way for tangible partnerships on the ground.

    The Youth for VEF is the first-ever youth-dedicated space hosted within the VEF and in partnership with the SDG 7 Youth Constituency. This year, the event will be divided in three main stages: Plenary, Skills Academy and Networking. The Youth for VEF was created with the objective of providing a platform to empower youth through workshops, connections, interactive discussions with high-level participants/experts and creative contests. 

    This year's edition of VEF is co-organized by UNIDO, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and Austrian Development Agency.


    • 5 July from 9:00 AM till 6:00 PM CET - Youth for VEF
    • 6 July from 9:00 AM till 6:30 PM CET - VEF 2021 Day 1
    • 7 July from 9:00 AM till 5:30 PM CET - VEF 2021 Day 2

    Full event agenda is available here.

    To register for the event, please click here.

  • VEF

    Format: Panel discussion 

    When: 6 July 2021, 14:00 PM till 15:00 PM CET

    Speakers (TBC):

    • Rodrigo Regis de Almeida Galvao, Director of Innovation and Business, Parque Tecnologico Itaipu, Brazil
    • Maira Kusch, International Expert on Hydrogen of the World Energy Council
    • Qinxian Jin, Director of Beijing Tsinghua Industrial Research and Development Institute 
    • Samir Rachidi, R&D Director, Thermal Systems & Power-To-X, the Moroccan Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies (IRESEN)

    Key objectives and expected outcomes:

    During this panel discussion, different stakeholders will gather to address from their respective optics and debate the key drivers for the global application of GH2 in industry.

    Participants will be representatives from industry, government, financial institutions and research institutions.  They will bring forward their specific expertise and debate innovative approaches and ideas to accelerate the uptake of GH2 in industry addressing market demand, financing and investments, creation of new value chains innovation and governance.

    Findings of the panel discussions will be captured and contribute to further developing national and global programmes such as the UNIDO Global partnership for the application of hydrogen in industry and the International Hydrogen Energy Centre (IHEC), a cooperation between the Government of China and UNIDO.

    Background information:

    Green hydrogen (GH2) produced from renewable energy source, has great potential to contribute to the deep decarbonization of industry at global level and is a key success factor of the energy transition.

    Hydrogen use today is dominated by industrial applications. The top four single uses of hydrogen are: oil refining (33%), ammonia production (27%), methanol production (11%) and steel production. The current global production of hydrogen is approximately 70 million ton per year, with less than 0.1 per cent being green hydrogen (GH2). Based on current hydrogen market scenarios, however, GH2 is increasingly becoming a cost-competitive option as prices of renewable energy are expected to fall by 30% by 2030 and production facilities are increasing. Additionally, there is a large potential of exporting GH2 through pipelines and maritime applications to countries with limited land and renewable energy potential.

    Building national hydrogen strategies, establishing conducive governance systems and driving innovation are crucial for GH2 implementation and making GH2 a least-cost solution.

    Currently, green hydrogen activities are gaining momentum in Europe, the Asia and Pacific region, as well as in some parts of the Americas, many developing countries and emerging economies are also initiating with their activities and there is an opportunity to bring them support, specially in policies and initiatives on GH2.

  • VEF

    When: 6 July 2021, 15:00 PM till 16:00 PM CET

    Cluster: Policy; Knowledge Management

    Format: Panel discussion that will discuss strategies to identify opportunities to achieve access to modern energy services for all by 2030 with a focus on bioenergy.

    Key questions: 

    The panel will discuss strategies to identify opportunities to achieve access to modern energy services for all by 2030 with a focus on bioenergy.

    • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the biofuel industry in developing countries?
    • What are the key challenges of the biofuels industry?
    • What lessons and successful strategies can we learn from the experiences of DCs in promoting an indigenous biofuel industry?

    Agenda and topics:

    • Opening, scene-setting, and bioenergy publication launch - Eli Jidere Bala, Director General (DG), Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN)
    • Bioenergy publication presentation - Ludovic Lacrosse, Managing Director, LL Green Consulting
    • Remarks - Emtariah, Director, Department of Energy, UNIDO
    • Bioenergy strategy for Tanzania (BEST) - Emilian Nyanda, Senior Officer, Renewable Energy Unit, Ministry of Energy, Tanzania
    • State of the art for biofuels global perspective - Dina Bacovsky, Unit Head Biofuels, Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies
    • Biofuels trends and opportunity for developing countries - Harry Stokes, Executive Director, Project Gaia Inc.
    • Biofuel blending in Thailand - Athikom Bangviwat, Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE)


    Globally, 20 countries accounted for 81 percent of the population without access to clean cooking. These countries are also known as High Impact Countries (HICs) and evenly distributed between Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. According to IEA’s Stated Policies Scenario, about 2.4 billion people will be left with no access in 2030 if clean cooking fails to secure a foothold in the global political agenda.

    There is an urgent need to support these countries in accelerating access to energy to meet the 2030 Agenda. Bioenergy has the opportunity in accelerating access to energy in countries with limited access with the potential of creating a sustainable bio economy/ecosystem in these countries. Only a small fraction of its potential has been exploited so far. That potential can easily be achieved without tapping into the food crops and experiencing competition with food production. Indeed, there are still huge quantities of bio-residues globally that are not used and that can be converted into bioenergy. To facilitate the successful development of local bioenergy industries, High Impact Countries need to establish a market enabling environment to overcome barriers and eliminate risks by adopting and improving coherent policy frameworks and regulations, standardize data for planning and monitoring different parts of the value chain as well as providing financing solutions to lastly ease the market entry for small medium enterprises.

    UNIDO, focusing on its Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) mandate, sees the opportunity to the develop the biofuel industry in these High Impact Countries to accelerate energy access rate and NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) commitments.

    Our latest achievement:

    • Report on the Role of Bioenergy in the Clean Energy Transition and Sustainable Development

    This publication has been prepared to highlight the lessons learned from 15 bioenergy projects of UNIDO most of them funded by Global Environmental Facility (GEF). While the scope, tech­nologies, applications, descriptions and results vary, these projects are united by the goal to achieve reliable, safe and affordable clean energy for people in developing countries, bringing clean energy to some of the world’s most vulnerable and under-served people and industries at the same time, helping to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. UNIDO is pleased to share its insights into the relatively small, but hugely promising bioenergy sector.

    In this publication, readers will learn about different aspects of the bioenergy sector, such as application of various waste to energy technologies in the agro-industry, legal and regulatory frameworks, success factors in bioenergy projects, the potential of the bioenergy sector at large. The publication gives helpful insights into what it takes to provide locally available bioenergy solutions at household, community and industrial levels.

    Read more here.

    Find the event concept note here.

  • VEF

    Focus: UNIDO achievements in the SHP sector; global opportunities for small hydropower in times of the Forth Industrial Revolution.

    Format: Panel discussion and presentations

    When: 7 July 2021, 12:30 AM till 13:30 PM CET


    Moderator: Anton-Louis Olivier, CEO, REH Group


    • Liu Heng, Senior Technical Advisor at the UNIDO
    • Oxana Lopatina, Senior programme officer, International Center on Small Hydro Power (ICSHP) 
    • Arun Kumar, Professor, Department of Hydro and Renewable Energy (HRED), Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
    • Janice Goodenough, CEO, Hydrogrid

    Background information:

    Small Hydropower (SHP) technology provides access to clean and cost-efficient energy; it helps reduce CO2 emissions and achieve greater energy independence while improving living standards of local communities.

    SHPs are beneficial for industry as well as for small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) because of higher electricity production capacity and longer expected lifetime. They create opportunities for SMEs’ development and economic leap-frogging. For remote rural areas, SHPs can serve as the primary energy source and provide grid stability for isolated grid solutions.

    UNIDO's work:

    Small hydropower is an integral part of a broader UNIDO strategy towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the transition to a clean energy future.

    UNIDO has a longstanding track record and vast expertise in the area of small hydropower. For over 20 years, and with the support of an extensive network of international experts, UNIDO provides sound technical advice and knowledge on SHP development and solutions.

    Our latest achievements:

    • Small Hydropower Technical Guidelines

    Through global expert cooperation and based on previous successful experiences, UNIDO developed the Small Hydropower Technical Guidelines (SHP/TGs). The Guidelines provide exceptional technical support for multiple disciplines in the stages of site selection, planning, pre-feasibility study, feasibility study, construction, installation, operation and management.

    Read more here.

    • World Small Hydropower Development Reports

    The World Small Hydropower Development Reports (WSHPDRs) result from a comprehensive collaborative effort between UNIDO, the International Center on Small Hydro Power (China) and over 200 local and regional partners (including small hydropower experts, organizations, engineers, academics and ministries across the globe). The WSHPDRs provide baseline information, successful experiences and a strategic outlook for countries to develop their renewable energy plans.

    Read more here.

    Find the event agenda here.

  • VEF

    When: 6 July 2021, 11:30 AM till 12:00 PM CET

    Focus: Launch of the Global Programme for GH2 in Industry


    To solve the world’s climate crisis, we must work together to reduce emissions and to achieve a carbon-neutral industrial development.  Innovative, forward-thinking solutions and sustainable energy technologies, such as Green Hydrogen, which is derived from renewable energy sources, are needed to decarbonize energy intensive sectors like aluminum, cement, chemicals and steel. 

    As hydrogen technologies are increasingly maturing and prices are becoming competitive, we need to develop and apply conducive policies, robust legal frameworks, and coherent international standards for the global up-take of Green Hydrogen. Collaborations between different stakeholders across the globe, including the public and private sectors, financial organizations, and academia, are crucial. Together, we can ensure that nobody is left behind and move toward an inclusive energy transition.

    Recognizing the potential of Green Hydrogen and building on its vast experience in the field of renewable energy projects, UNIDO has initiated a global Programme to foster the application of green hydrogen in industry. The Programme includes two pillars – the Global Partnership and Technical Cooperation activities – both will be supported by the International Hydrogen Energy Centre.

    Key objectives and expected outcomes:

    The Global Partnership for Hydrogen in Industry, that will be launched in a framework of the Vienna Energy Forum, aims to accelerate global strategic dialogue and stimulate synergies. It will enhance the exchange, development and distribution of knowledge on policies, technical guidelines and standards. 

    The envisioned Partnership is an ambitious initiative that demands cooperation and coordination across sectors and stakeholders.  UNIDO invites different partners and donors to explore and identify areas for collaboration to ensure carbon neutral industries.


    • Yong LI , Director General of UNIDO
    • Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria
    • Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany

  • VEF

    The Centre will be inaugurated on the bilateral basis. 


    Recognizing the crucial role that hydrogen can play in the future energy system, UNIDO and the Government of China are launching the International Hydrogen Energy Center. Under this Initiative, they will work together to promote hydrogen energy technology development and application for achieving clean and renewable energy goals in line with Sustainable Development Goals 7, 9, and 13.

    The Centre aims to achieve technological breakthroughs and play a strategic role in helping the development of the hydrogen energy industry not only in China but also globally. It will promote best practices through south- south, triangular and regional cooperation; carry out technology research, development and application (in particular in the area of hydrogen production, hydrogen storage, hydrogen transport, hydrogen refueling, fuel cell and energy storage); support capacity building and finally building-up green hydrogen economies.

    The Centre will work with different stakeholders, including governments, private sector and SMEs, R&D institutions, business and industry associations, Beijing municipality and China as well as other developing and transition countries.


    • UNIDO
    • Beijing Municipal Government
    • China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges, Ministry of Commerce, (CICETE/MOFCOM)
    • Tsinghua University, China