United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, on the afternoon of Sunday, 15 January, from Beirut. The main aim was to attend the World Future Energy Summit and to launch the Year of Sustainable Energy. He also held a range of bilateral meetings and addressed the closing session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The Secretary-General first met the principals of his High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Energy for All initiative, who were meeting in Abu Dhabi. He was briefed on their work.
The Secretary-General next addressed the closing session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. He told delegates that the Agency, together with the United Nations, can make progress on the twin challenges of sustainable growth and climate change “while striking a blow against extreme poverty.” (See Press Release SG/SM/14063)
That evening, the Secretary-General attended a reception in honour of Sustainable Energy for All hosted by Senator Tim Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, and a dinner hosted by the Director of International Renewable Energy Agency, Adnan Amin.
On Monday morning, the Secretary-General was briefed again by his High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Energy for All.
Next, the Secretary-General addressed the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit, and launched the Year of Sustainable Energy. He told the audience that energy is central to everything we do — from powering our economies to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and from combating climate change to underpinning global security.
He said that energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity and preserving the environment. The Secretary-General said his High-level Group on Sustainable Energy had created a framework for a robust action agenda to be ready for the forthcoming “ Rio+20” Conference on Sustainable Development. (See Press Release SG/SM/14066)
The Secretary-General was then received by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, at the National Exhibition Centre’s Royal Majlis. The Secretary-General thanked Abu Dhabi for hosting the World Future Energy Summit and International Renewable Energy Agency assembly and for supporting United Nations activities. In addition to sustainable development and sustainable energy, they discussed regional matters.
The Secretary-General next had a bilateral meeting with Kim Hwang-sik, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea. They discussed sustainable development, including sustainable energy, the green economy and the June Rio+20 Summit. The Secretary-General’s discussions also covered South Sudan, the Korean peninsula, the forthcoming Seoul Nuclear Security Summit and HIV/AIDS.
Following his meeting with the South Korean Prime Minister, the Secretary-General met Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister discussed a wide range of topics, including sustainable development, sustainable energy, the Millennium Development Goals and global economic challenges. The Secretary-General's discussions also covered Sudan and South Sudan, the Korean Peninsula and developments in the Middle East and North Africa.
Next, the Secretary-General returned to the National Exhibition Center to give a press conference on sustainable energy with Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the Chief Executive Officer of MASDAR, which organized the World Future Energy Summit. The Secretary-General said he had come to Abu Dhabi with one simple message, that “sustainable energy for all is both necessary and achievable.” In answer to questions on sustainable energy, he said what is needed is “strong support from the private sector”, which has the capacity to “innovate and invest in technology and innovation”. He also answered a question on Syria, saying the situation had reached “an unacceptable point”. He continued to say that the number of casualties has reached such an unacceptable stage that “we cannot let this situation continue like this.”
Back at his hotel, the Secretary-General met Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the President of Iceland. They discussed the global economic crisis and its impact on Iceland. Their discussions also covered sustainable development, including Iceland's contribution to sustainable energy initiatives through its experience with geothermal energy. They also discussed the many implications of ongoing global ice melt. Later that evening, the Secretary-General attended a reception hosted by the organizers of the World Future Energy Summit.
On the morning of Tuesday 17 January, the Secretary-General departed for New York, making a stop on the way to the airport to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The Secretary-General arrived back in New York the same afternoon.