Asia-Pacific Countries Agree to Cooperate on Renewable Energy

Countries from across Asia and the Pacific have agreed to cooperate proactively on the development of renewable energy in an effort to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and enhance long-term energy security.

The decision, adopted Wednesday in Bangkok before the closing of the annual session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), calls on countries in the region to share experiences in developing renewable energy technologies and to rapidly disseminate such technologies to developing countries. It further called on member States to make their research institutions accessible to researchers and technologists from developing countries.

Asia-Pacific countries also requested ESCAP to facilitate such technological development and transfer by working together with multilateral funding agencies, sub-regional groupings, research institutions, and through public-private partnerships and initiatives.

Energy security and sustainable development was the theme of this year’s high-level ESCAP Commission session. A study by ESCAP says that the Asia-Pacific region cannot count on continuing increases in energy supply to fuel its economic growth. At the current rate, by 2030, Asia and the Pacific will account for half of the world’s energy demand. Much of that - more than 80% - will be for fossil fuels such as oil and coal, making the regional not only vulnerable to volatile energy prices but also to carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The study calls for improving energy efficiency and increasing production of renewable energy such as wind, hydro, and solar energy.

The resolution underlines the importance of meeting the unmet demands of many member countries in terms of access, affordability and availability of energy. Currently, some 1.7 billion people in the region are using traditional biomass fuels, and one billion people still lack access to electricity.

The Commission session, which was attended by ministers and senior official from about 50 countries, also adopted several resolutions on issues such as the Millennium Development Goals, resilience to disasters and transport. It agreed to establish the Forum of Asian Ministers of Transport which will provide strategic guidance for the development of efficient, reliable and cost-effective transport services. ESCAP has worked closely with its member countries to create the Asian Highway Network, which encompasses 141,000 kilometres of roads, and the Trans-Asian Railway which covers 81,000 kilometres of rail.

The Commission also adopted “sustainable agriculture and food security” as the theme topic for next year’s session. In her closing remarks, Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, welcomed the decision, saying that “the new theme topic reflects the serious concern that many delegates have expressed over the rocketing food prices.”