Opening of the second General Assembly of IRENA
SPEICAL ADDRESS BY MR. SHA ZUKANG, UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE 2012 UN CONFERENCE, ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
14 January 2012, Abu Dhabi
Your Excellency Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber,
Your Excellency Mr Salvador Namburete,
Director-General Adnan Amin (my special advisor on Rio+20),
IRENA is new and I am new to IRENA. But I know that renewable energy is critical to sustainable development and so is the role of IRENA.
The convening of this General Assembly – only the second since IRENA’s founding – marks an important milestone in international cooperation for renewable energy.
Today is first of all a day for celebration.
I want to congratulate all Member States of IRENA for the achievements you have made.
In establishing IRENA you have filled a gap in the international institutional architecture for energy. And you have placed renewable energy at the centre of sustainable energy for all.
Indeed, you have come this far, thanks to a firm belief that energy from our natural resources – such as sunlight, wind, water, tides, geothermal heat – can play a much greater role in meeting our energy needs.
These gifts of nature can alleviate poverty, promote green growth, combat climate change and enhance energy security.
Indeed, renewable energy trends of recent years reflect strong growth in all energy sectors. Similar growth patterns are also seen in many developing countries.
If renewable energy is to comprise a significant share of the global energy mix by 2030, these trends will need to continue.
Your meeting here provides a timely platform for meeting the sustainable energy challenge.
It is a chance to get down to business.
This Assembly is taking place at a moment when our world is confronted with inter-linked crises on the economic, social and environmental fronts.
The UN Secretary-General, who will address the closing of this Assembly, has kept a spotlight on these multiple crises.
His message is clear – saving our planet, eradicating poverty, advancing economic growth – these are one and the same fight.
We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment.
Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.
Undoubtedly, a major thrust in this fight is energy.
Energy is key to combating climate change, advancing a green economy and achieving sustainable development.
That is why the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, and why the Secretary-General has launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
IRENA must be at the frontline of this global campaign.
In this joint global undertaking, we would like to see a strong IRENA taking the lead on several fronts.
First, as the international entity on renewable energy, we hope to see IRENA continue as the leading global advocate for all sources of modern renewable energy.
The world needs such an advocate.
While we celebrate what we have already accomplished, we should realize that much more remains to be done.
Conventional sources of energy, while still accounting for a main share of energy consumption, are finite. One day, they will be exhausted, even though energy efficiency can help reduce the rate of consumption.
In the long run, only renewable energy will meet growing energy demand and drive sustainable development.
Therefore, IRENA needs to go out there and be the global voice for renewable energy!
No other institution can play that role with more authority and credibility than IRENA.
Second, we hope to see IRENA as the leading international centre of excellence for renewable energy and a platform for exchange and development of renewable energy knowledge.
We’d like to see IRENA grow into a central source of data, information and knowledge.
And we look forward to the dissemination and sharing of that information, especially with countries and communities that are just getting started on the use of modern renewable energy.
For all of this to occur, we also hope IRENA will be empowered with more resources.
And third, we’d like to see IRENA do more – through technical cooperation and capacity-building – for developing countries.
IRENA must work with countries to ensure that renewable energy is supported by coherent, long-term and stable policy incentives, incentives that attract and spur investments in renewable energy capacity and generation, as well as underlying infrastructure.
You can be the enabler – especially for Africa, the LDCs and SIDS.
Where you are able, you can provide disadvantaged communities with resources, both financial and technical, disseminate lessons learned and best practices, promote capacity-building and facilitate technology transfer.
As a new institution, IRENA will not be in a position to do all of the above on your own.
Partnerships can help multiply your knowledge, skills and impact.
The United Nations system stands ready to be your effective partner. My department – the Department of Economic and Social Affairs – convenes the Executive Committee of Economic and Social Affairs and serves as the secretariat for UN-Energy.
We are ready to work with you.
This coming June, world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro for a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Their goal: to renew political will for achieving sustainable development across the globe.
Rio+20 offers a timely opportunity to advance renewable energy, to agree on a roadmap for building a green economy, powered by clean and renewable energy, and to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Much groundwork has already been put in place:
- through regional and country-led preparatory events for Rio+20;
- through the Sustainable Energy for All initiative; and
- activities to observe the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
The preparatory process for Rio has raised expectations for a successful outcome, including decisions on energy.
Of 677 submissions to the Compilation Document – the text which provides the basis of the outcome document of the Conference, over 430 submissions addressed energy. And over 200 of these highlight renewable energy.
In addition, many governments, as well as thousands of civil society organizations, have called for launching sustainable development goals at Rio+20.
Doubling the share of renewable energy is one such goal.
The ambitions of the actions agreed at Rio+20 must match the scale of the challenges we face, including on the energy front.
As Conference Secretary-General, I will work closely with my colleagues in the UN system to support member States move toward renewable energy goals.
But it will be IRENA that takes the lead role in meeting these goals.
Rio+20 offers IRENA a unique opportunity to showcase your work, your future leadership on renewable energy.
Please seize that opportunity. Come to Rio and announce your initiatives – be they your own initiatives or those in partnerships.
In doing so, you are helping chart a course to a sustainable future – A Future We All Want.
I wish the second General Assembly of IRENA great success!