UN policy dialogue highlights energy strategies for sustainable development in Asia-Pacific

With energy consumption in Asia and the Pacific projected to almost double by 2035, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has called on countries to rethink their energy agendas by shifting to low- and zero-carbon energy sources, and by putting greater emphasis on the interconnection of national energy networks.

“Growing energy needs, along with energy security and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are major concerns for many countries. These competing factors require countries to push for energy diversification and to adopt sustainable and low-carbon paths through appropriate incentive frameworks,” said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the 2016 Policy Dialogue on Energy for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific that closed in Bangkok this week.

Energy challenges are especially pronounced in Asia and the Pacific, where consumption has been growing at a higher rate than the global average, and now accounts for 47 per cent of the world’s energy use. At the three-day dialogue, convened by ESCAP from April 25 to 27, participants shared good practices on strategies and policies as well as diverse perspectives on the barriers to enhanced regional energy connectivity, enhanced energy security, the key emerging energy trends, and on increasing access to modern and sustainable energy services.

Participants emphasised the need to increase the use of renewable energy, both to decarbonise the energy supply system and to expand access to modern energy for rural populations. Similarly the participants highlighted the importance of regional energy connectivity, particularly through transboundary power trade, for the Asia-Pacific region to address regional energy imbalances, and identified opportunities through regional cooperation to fast-track energy connectivity plans.

The Policy Dialogue also provided guidance on synergizing collaboration with related programs, such as subregional initiatives on power grid interconnection, the G20 action plan on energy access in Asia and the Pacific, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a specific focus on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy.

Enhancements to the Asia-Pacific Energy Portal, launched last May, were also showcased at the Policy Dialogue. The portal provides unprecedented open and centralized access to energy policies of member States and combines this information with visual data. New developments to the portal include improved data visualization methods, infrastructure development mapping and policy mapping.

The annual Policy Dialogue is part of ESCAP’s continued efforts to broaden and deepen cooperation in advancing the region’s common energy agenda.