The 10th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development opened today with delegates underscoring the need for greater collaboration between government and the private sector, and for inter-regional dialogue if the global energy transition is to be realised.
While global energy targets for universal energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency under Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) and the Paris Agreement provide a blueprint for the global energy transition, navigating the future path can be complex. It requires vast amounts of capital as well as long-term planning and coordination at multiple levels of government.
“We know that this will require a radical transition in many areas. How we source and consume energy must change. Transformation across sectors is needed and we need decisions on fuels and technologies to account for the full costs of air pollution and leverage clean energy to bring back blue skies, clean water and healthy cities. To extend renewable energy-based grids, we need deeper regional cooperation and integration,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Ms. Armida Alisjahbana.
“We must move from ideas to implementation with clear government policies on sustainable energy. Apart from the government, the private sector is the real driver for implementation as they bring the investment and skills needed to push SDG7 into reality. Thailand’s Ministry of Energy has launched several financial incentive schemes to boost business investment on renewable energy and energy efficiency,” shared H.E. Mr. Sontirat Sontijirawong, Minister of Energy, the Royal Government of Thailand.
“Access to energy varies among countries in the region, even different within the country itself. However, one similar SDG7 challenge faced by all Asia-Pacific countries is to fulfil the target of providing affordable energy to the people, while ensuring it is sustainable for the long-term. With this in mind, Indonesia has introduced a low-carbon development initiative as a basic framework for the next five-year medium-term development planning,” highlighted H.E. Mr. Bambang Brodjonegoro, Minister of National Development Planning, Indonesia at the opening.
The two-day Forum aims to explore pathways to close the gap between targets and actions in areas such as access to electricity, renewable energy, clean cooking and energy efficiency. Organized by ESCAP, in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and the Ministry of Energy of Royal Thai Government, this is the only platform that allows for inter-regional exchanges on SDG7 implementation.
Ministers and energy sector experts participated in a high-level panel this morning sharing insights on how to address the interlinkages of energy with climate change, poverty, inequality, health and gender concerns. Through a series of roundtables over the next two days, delegates will also investigate the weaknesses, threats and barriers to achieving the energy transition in the coming years.
On the sidelines of the Forum today, ESCAP inaugurated the Asia-Pacific Network of Energy Think Tanks (APNETT). The Network will convene diverse multidisciplinary energy expertise from academic institutions, think tanks, universities and not-for-profit organisations across the region to exchange knowledge and collaborative research that could address knowledge gaps and build expertise, particularly in the field of sustainable energy development.
ESCAP and Energy Foundation China also held the inception meeting of a joint project to promote low carbon and green development across Asia-Pacific region. The project includes development of the National Expert SDG Tool for Energy Planning (NEXSTEP) to assist developing countries of the region plan for the implementation of the SDG7, as well as enhancing cooling energy efficiency in ASEAN countries and evidence-based guidance on achieving universal access to clean cooking.
The Forum is held as part of the Asia-Pacific Energy Week, which features a series of high-level events organized by ESCAP on sustainable energy. The Asia-Pacific Energy Week will continue with the Second Session of the ESCAP Committee on Energy from 9 to 11 October, and a Government Business Dialogue on Energy Transition on 11 October.