Business and Government Leaders to Discuss Energy Security at UN Forum

Senior government officials, business leaders and civil society representatives will meet in Bangkok to discuss ways to improve energy security through regional and public-private cooperation, a subject which has taken on new importance given the recent record-breaking oil prices.

The participants will gather at the Asia-Pacific Business Forum 2008 held by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok on 27 April. The theme of the event is Energy Security: Opportunities through Regional Energy Cooperation and Public-Private Partnerships. The event is a part of ESCAP’s annual high-level Commission session and will be held in collaboration with the Royal Thai Government and the Thai business community. Approximately 350 people are expected to attend.

Guest speakers at the Forum include Mr. Sahas Banditkul, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; Mr. Sarthak Behuria, Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation and the Petroleum Federation of India; Ms. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank; Mr. Santi Vilassakdanont, Chairman of the Joint-Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking of Thailand; and Mr. Ken Koyama, Director of the Institute of Energy Economics of Japan.

Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, states: “There is a pressing need today for the public sector and the business community to work together in new ways to face the challenge of energy security confronting the region. Rising uncertainty over energy supplies threatens the growth prospects of our economies and it affects private businesses that are the drivers of growth. At the same time, it offers fresh opportunities for private business to scale up its engagement in energy, especially in areas such as distributed power generation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, rural energy services, and interconnected regional and sub-regional energy infrastructures. The estimated energy investment needs of Asia-Pacific developing countries up till 2030 range between $8.3 to $9 trillion. A large part of this will have to come from private business since official development funds fall far short of the requirement. New public-private partnerships built on the principle of commercial feasibility and shouldering a shared mission to help governments achieve broader economic and social goals should be at the centre of our response to the ongoing tumult in world energy markets. The Forum can serve as a catalyst to bring this about.”

The Asia-Pacific Business Forum is a part of ESCAP's ongoing efforts to promote trade, investment and enterprise development in the region through public-private cooperation. The discussions at the Forum are expected to lead to recommendations on policy options which will be conveyed to a Ministerial Round Table on energy security and sustainable development on 28 April.