Asia-Pacific Sustainable Energy for All

Asia-Pacific Energy Forum 2013

Your Excellency, Lord Tu’ivakano,
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Tonga,

Your Excellency, Mr. Kausea Natano,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Utilities of Tuvalu,

Your Excellency, Mr. Alexander Novak,
Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, our gracious host,

Honorable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, has asked me to convey to you his greetings and strong support for the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum. He thanks you for your leadership in addressing a range of vitally important energy issues and welcomes your efforts to work together to transform global energy systems and promote a more sustainable, equitable path of energy development. He looks forward to learning about the results of your timely and important deliberations, and offers his best wishes for a productive meeting.

I also bring you warm greetings from Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Dr. Heyzer has asked me to convey her sincere regrets for not being able to join you in person, and her best wishes for the success of this Forum. She has asked me to deliver the following statement on her behalf:

Almost one year ago, 191 United Nations Member States and observers, made a vital pledge as part of the outcome document of the Rio+20 conference. They agreed that: “We are all determined to act to make sustainable energy for all a reality and, through this, help to eradicate poverty and lead to sustainable development and global prosperity.”

This worldwide commitment was reinforced when the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed the resolution declaring 2014 to 2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.

One year earlier, the UN Secretary-General. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, catalyzing efforts for universal access to modern energy services, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewables in the global energy mix, to support the future we want for our people and our planet.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The Asia-Pacific Push for Sustainable Energy for All

The size and dynamism of the Asia-Pacific region means that not only will our economies continue to be the engine of global economic growth, but also that our regional approach to development will increasingly influence the post-2015 global development agenda. How we meet the rapid growth in regional energy demand is, therefore, one of the most pressing development priorities of our time.

This Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF), aims to promote greater regional cooperation on enhanced energy security and the sustainable use of energy. Building on a year-long preparatory process, generously supported by the Government of the Russian Federation, APEF is the first intergovernmental, ministerial conference on energy, convened under the auspices of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific.

As part of the preparatory process for this Forum, ESCAP organized five Subregional Consultation Meetings, an Expert Group Meeting, and a Regional Preparatory Meeting to capture the perspectives on energy security, and to support consensus-building towards a regional energy strategy.

Ours is a region of energy contrasts, with many of the countries most dependent on fossil fuel imports, from OECD countries like Japan and the Republic of Korea, to emerging economies and our Pacific island developing states. These energy deficits make the region as a whole extremely vulnerable to volatile oil prices.

On the other hand, our region has some of the countries best-endowed with fossil fuel reserves, such as the Russian Federation, China, Australia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and India. Yet despite these vast energy resources, 628 million people in Asia and the Pacific still lack access to electricity, and 1.8 billion still rely on traditional cooking fuels.

In terms of renewable energy, the distribution is more equitable, and we are blessed with ample resources in solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and ocean energies. Our region has the highest growth rates of investments and added capacity in renewable energy, but renewable resources, including hydro, still account for only 16 per cent of total regional electricity production. If we exclude hydro, the amount of electricity generated from renewables in Asia and the Pacific is a miniscule 2 per cent.

Given these challenges and opportunities, it is not surprising that certain action items have been repeatedly called for, both at the level of our five subregions, and at the regional level as well. These common areas of concern form the basis of the agenda for regional energy cooperation which ESCAP seeks to facilitate.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Action Agenda for Regional Energy Cooperation

The essential actions in our regional energy cooperation are to unite, to engage, to analyze and to build, in an upward cycle of assessment and improvement.

First, UNITE: APEF represents what the United Nations does best - bringing together member States on key issues of common concern. APEF is not a single event, but is rather an evolving process. By recognizing the multiple feed-in factors to energy security, we now have a shared vision of what enhanced energy security requires – specifically that it depends on much more than calculations of supply and demand.

Enhanced energy security – as you see in the visual on the screen – encompasses the areas of access, efficiency, renewables, environment, economics, trade and investment, and, connectivity.

Second, ENGAGE: To realize the energy future we want, each and every sector, and stakeholder group, must be more effectively engaged on two matters in particular: finance and technologies.

Asia-Pacific has largest and fastest-growing markets for clean and renewable energy in the world. Yet only 27 per cent of global cross-border new investments in clean energy have been in the global South. Of the USD 44.3 billion a year in total investment, 87 per cent is from private funds. Not only do we need to better engage the private sector, and leverage their financial resources with public funds, but we must also strengthen global partnerships to focus resources where they are most needed and will have the greatest impact.

Governments send powerful market signals through fiscal policies. As voiced in the preparatory meetings, governments need to rationalize fiscal policies, especially with respect to fossil fuel subsidies, which amount to more than USD 203 billion a year.

Through more sustainable economic policies, the necessary resources can be mobilized to support the development and transfer of the full range of technologies and knowledge for the generation, distribution, transmission and usage of more sustainable energy services.

Third, ANALYSE: Another major challenge repeated in the consultation meetings is the lack of reliable, transparent and comparative statistical data on energy. Without such data, it is difficult to create accurate baselines and meaningful indicators to measure progress against our goals. In order to follow-through on the action items negotiated here at APEF, it is clear that we need to improve the availability and reliability of energy information.

As a positive example, the outcome document of the Pacific Energy Leaders’ Summit in Tonga, last March, requested ESCAP to facilitate the establishment of a regional data repository, not only for basic energy data from national statistical offices, but also project documents, feasibility studies and reports by development partners. This knowledge initiative will be developed hand-in-hand with other APEF action items.

Fourth, BUILD: Every subregion lists trade and investment at the top of the energy priority agenda. Infrastructure interconnections, whether integrated power grids or natural gas pipelines, are essential for regional connectivity.

As mandated by ESCAP resolution 68/11, from our 2012 Commission session, an ‘Asian Energy Highway’ could be explored to provide an integrated regional electricity grid. Such infrastructure would utilize smart grid technologies, and bridge the gaps between the ongoing development of the many subregional power interconnections by ASEAN, GMS and SAARC, among others.

To build an Asian Energy Highway however, we need to build regional energy trust. We need to create the framework for cooperation in terms of the institutional, legal and regulatory arrangements. We also need to build on our own Asia-Pacific expertise.

From solar home systems in Fiji, micro-hydro projects in Nepal, rural electrification in Lao, PDR, and a massive wind power industry in China, to the green growth strategies of Mongolia, fiscal reform in Indonesia, impressive investments in R&D in India, and the cross-sectoral energy road map in Tonga, the list goes on and on of homegrown regional best practices.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Conclusion

In conclusion, energy touches everything and everyone. Our post-2015 development framework must acknowledge the critical interlinkages between water, land, food and energy.

Energy powers opportunity. We must shift to a more sustainable path of energy production, distribution and consumption. This transformation is non-negotiable if our region is to eliminate poverty, reduce disparities, and achieve shared prosperity.

The APEF Ministerial Declaration and Plan of Action, before you today, have the potential to become landmark documents for Asia-Pacific sustainable development.

I would like to highlight a phrase from the Rio+20 outcome document, which I mentioned earlier. That phrase is “determined to act.” ESCAP and the whole UN system share your determination for action on better energy systems and energy security.

Let us use this Forum to agree on the actions we will take together to lead the way towards sustainable energy for all in Asia and the Pacific.

I thank you.