Dr. Noeleen Heyzer
the United Nations and
Executive Secretary of ESCAP
"The energy future we want
for the Asia-Pacific region
is one of
equity, efficiency and resilience."
A heavy reliance on fossil fuels makes the region particularly vulnerable to the fluctuations of international energy market prices. Recurring shocks of oil price volatility, financial and economic crises have not only exacerbated issues in energy, food and water; but have also partially reversed social and economic development gains and made the task of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) even more challenging. Recognizing this, theSustainable Energy for All to mobilize action on the global initiative led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Regional cooperation has the potential to help economies in the region develop an effective response to these challenges through enhanced energy trade and connectivity. The region is endowed with substantial energy resources, enjoys a sizeable market for optimum efficiency, has access to finance and technical expertise, and possesses proven experience in applying innovative approaches to sustainable development. To maximize potential benefit from these important but often mismatched resources, there is an urgent need for new and better regional cooperation on energy. An Asian energy compact – in effect, a possible game-changer – is needed to transform Asia-Pacific into an energy-resilient region.
The Asian energy compact, while complementing national economic development plans, should facilitate regional cooperation towards a more integrated energy system, such as the proposed Asian Energy Highway. The strategy should contribute to the promotion of sustainable development through enhanced energy efficiency and economic competitiveness, renewable energy and environmental protection, and, importantly, through universal access to modern energy services and poverty reduction, at the national and household levels, especially for rural women and girls.
At the Rio+20 Conference, the Member States of the United Nations recognized the importance of energy-related matters in eradicating poverty, leading sustainable development, and building global prosperity. Supporting the Secretary-General's initiative, and the commitments at Rio+20, the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) 2013 provides an opportunity to forge a forward-looking regional energy strategy. It is a key intergovernmental platform for us to agree on the policy options necessary to build the energy future we want for Asia and the Pacific.