Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
Opening of the
eighth session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Abu Dhabi, 13 January 2018
Mr. Adnan Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA),
Representatives of regional and international organizations, and members of participating delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and an honour to be with you today in the United Arab Emirates, among such an eminent group of participants at the eighth session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency, to discuss the technical and economic dimensions of renewable energy issues.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Three years have passed since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. We must therefore, now more than ever, strive to implement it in an integrated and inclusive manner.
Energy is both a cause and a solution to many global issues. It is the golden thread that binds together all the Sustainable Development Goals, from water and food security to health and education services, gender equality, youth employment opportunities, the advancement of remote communities, and adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change.
In this context, the Arab region has only just begun its transformation towards more sustainable development. Despite the existence of fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, the energy sector faces rising energy demands given the 2.2 per cent population growth; the pressures of forced displacement in some countries and of infrastructure that is outdated or has been destroyed by many wars. In addition, most energy support policies result in irrational consumer behaviour, which exacerbates the difficulties of accessing natural resources
safely and affordably.
In view of the estimated increase in demand for energy, reaching around 6 per cent by 2020, it is necessary to consider energy issues through an integrated set of policies that rely on the efficient and effective management of natural resources and the use of appropriate techniques at the domestic level.
The major challenge lies in mobilizing the necessary technical, financial and institutional resources to provide everyone with modern and reliable energy at an affordable price, to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix, and to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency given its many links to other Goals, such a reducing poverty, ensuring food and water security and economic development, and mitigating climate change.
Renewable energy plays a prominent role in that regard. All Arab countries enjoy numerous renewable energy sources and several projects have been implemented, many of which have been highly successful. However, despite such renewable energy capacity, the share in the Arab energy mix (excluding water sources) has not exceeded 1 per cent of total energy produced. This highlights the importance of adopting long-term strategies, policy incentives, preferential pricing systems and flexible financing systems, and of supporting national industry and research and development activities to increase that share.
I am confident that the current international momentum presents an opportunity to strive for a qualitative leap in propagating renewable energy, especially with regard to modernizing infrastructure, technology transfer, national capacity-building and financing.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to indicate some activities under the ESCWA programme of work that focus on the energy-water-food nexus to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to harmonize national contributions for climate change mitigation:
- ESCWA is coordinating regional efforts on evaluating implementation indicators and monitoring progress with regard to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and preparing an Arab report thereon;
- It is also preparing a study on the water-energy-food nexus from the perspective of regional commissions, decision-makers, planners and technical executives;
- It is developing mechanisms and policies to support the financing of renewable energy projects;
- ESCWA contributions also include regional initiatives on building the capacity of Arab negotiators on climate change, and on strengthening communication between countries and donors to implement adaptation and mitigation projects.
Sustainable energy has become a cornerstone, rather than an option, for achieving development. Renewable energy sources can play a prominent role in this process, requiring concerted efforts to accelerate the pace of inclusive development without exceptions.