ESCAP Energy Committee Closing Session

Delivered by Deputy Executive Secretary Mr. Kaveh Zahedi
Delivered at UNCC in Bangkok, Thailand

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon,

On behalf of the Executive Secretary, It gives me much pleasure to bring to a close this inaugural session of the ESCAP Committee on Energy. Having listened to your deliberations and heard your ideas, responses and recommendations on how we as a unified region can address our energy challenges, I have much confidence in the future of regional energy cooperation and look forward to working on the programmes, initiatives and plans of action that we will develop together in support of the energy transition.

This inaugural session was indeed a milestone. This Committee grew from your desire to have ESCAP’s programme of work aligned with 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and I believe the debates that have taken place were strongly in line with this objective. The commitment I have seen of member States to work together has been extremely encouraging. This represents a clear sign that our region has a solid understanding of its energy challenges as well as the implications of inaction. There is a clear shared desire to work together on a common energy agenda that addresses not only energy sustainability but also sustainable development.

As we bring this Committee to a close, allow me to outline just some of the issues raised and the conclusions and outcomes proposed.

Energy connectivity will play a core role in our region’s development and in implementing the 2030 Agenda. A shift in thinking within the region is needed to move from energy independence, to energy interdependence, in order to improve energy sustainability, security and reliability. The definition of energy connectivity is broad and an inclusive approach is needed to include member States of small island developing States. It is important that we continue to support dialogue and technical cooperation that leads to agreements on connectivity and transboundary power trade. Regionally, we have the access to the resources, knowledge and skills we need to create these connections. I therefore urge you to use this committee as a platform to continue discussing and finding solutions for these issues. The establishment of the proposed Expert Advisory Group on energy connectivity will help address issues and concerns, and help build consensus on implementation strategies. I congratulate the Government of China for its leadership and commitment of its expertise and resources in developing this group.

The need for renewable energy to be more prominent in the region’s energy mix was clearly highlighted over the deliberations. Whilst fossil fuels continue to be present in energy production and use, advancing and incorporating renewable energy is the only way we can meet future demands, keep well below the two degree target of the Paris Agreement as well as address broader sustainability goals. The discussions undertaken during this Committee send a clear message that Asia-Pacific member States are committed to the expansion of use of renewable energy and are working to remove technological, finance, policy and other barriers to make this transformation.

Importantly, the Committee has recognized the need for long-term national energy strategies to be aligned with SDG7. Asia and the Pacific is a very diverse region, but we face common energy challenges. These include, among others energy shortages, lack of energy access, an overreliance on imported fossil fuels, low efficiency, climate change and air pollution. The pledge of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind” requires continued and unwavering efforts, drawing on regional cooperation, to bring the benefits of electricity and clean cooking fuels to all the peoples of our region. Member States have highlighted many commendable actions undertaken at the national level to achieve SDG7 but it is clear we are only at the beginning of the journey and have much to benefit from regional exchanges and south-south collaboration.
I am pleased to hear that this Committee has recognized the importance of engaging the private sector to help drive the energy transition. The private sector dialogue which was held prior to the opening of the Committee was indeed a valuable opportunity to allow their perspectives to be shared. The private sector will be an invaluable source of skills, finance, knowledge and innovation. I hope that this engagement of the private sector can continue and grow as part of the Committee’s work. I am also pleased that the Committee has also considered developing partnerships with important international energy stakeholders such as the IAEA, subregional bodies and financial institutions.

This inaugural session has also provided guidance and direction for how this Committee and ESCAP’s newly formed Energy Division should function. As you know, this platform has just been constituted and is rapidly evolving. As it develops, it is important that between Committee Sessions, member States with the support of the ESCAP Secretariat continue the energy dialogue and take advantage of other cross-cutting ESCAP platforms, such as the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development and the Asia-Pacific Financing for Development Forum, to leverage cross-sectoral approaches.
When I opened this Committee I stated that diversity of our region lends itself to a diversity of challenges and opportunities. The deliberations and outcomes we have had over the last three days demonstrate that we are on the journey together in addressing our energy future. This Committee will play a vital role in regional cooperation on sustainable energy, providing a neutral and inclusive platform for all.
I would like to thank you all for active participation in this inaugural Committee and look forward to seeing a successful transition from discussion to implementation. I hope that future Sessions of this Committee can repeat the success of the last few days in Bangkok.

I thank you and wish you a safe journey home.