SPEECH: Statement by H. E. Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group) at the Opening Ceremony at 2nd VIENNA ENERGY FORUM Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria, 21-23 June 2011
Right Honorable Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Excellencies Former Heads of States, Honorable Ministers, Director General Dr Kande Yumkella, Eminent Scientists and Experts, Distinguished Leaders of Companies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is an honour for me to address this very important meeting. Until recently, energy has been one of the neglected issues in international development. We are now more aware than ever that sustainable energy systems are crucial to human livelihoods as well as ecological balance. In the developing countries, 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity, 2.5 billion use traditional biomass for cooking while access to electricity remains very limited in rural and peri-urban areas despite the potential offered by the various sources of renewable energy. We at the ACP believe that access to renewable energy and modern energy services is a prerequisite for economic growth, social development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the graduation of LDCs to non LDCs status. Placing emphasis on sustainable energy is a means of consolidating the efforts made to attain the Millennium Development Goals and scale up the development of LDCs. Because of the cross-cutting or transversal nature of energy, we are attempted to agree with those who propose it as MDG Goal 9. In order to address the energy needs of ACP member states, the ACP Group and its traditional partner, the European Union agreed to put in place the 1st ACP-EU Energy Facility in 2004 with a budget of 220 Million Euros. A 2nd ACP-EU Energy Facility was launched in 2009 with a budget of 200 Million Euros. The specific objectives of the ACP-EU Energy Facility were to improve access to modern energy services for the benefit of disadvantaged rural and peri-urban population, improve governance and management in assisting countries to improve their institutional and regulatory framework to attract financial resources for sustainable energy related project. During the 1st Energy Facility, 74 projects across the ACP countries were funded. Implementation of these projects involved all categories of actors: local government, NGOs, private sector, public institutions and international organizations. The programme enabled actors in the field to explore innovative solutions that target local needs. Ladies and Gentlemen, In 2010, our principal development partner, the European Commission, released a ‘Green Paper’ outlining a new framework for development thinking and action. The Green Paper commits to targeting sustainable and inclusive growth as the cornerstone of the Commission’s development interventions. This would imply commitment to actions that address the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainable human development, from energy to food security health, conflict and Climate Change. There is a strong emphasis on access to energy as a major focus for future development action which we have welcomed. The overall aim is to ensure that every euro spent provides the best value added, the best leverage and the best legacy of opportunities for generations to come. In our engagement with the international development community, we have continued to emphasis the increasing need to refocus attention on this crucially important question of energy as a vehicle for promoting inclusive growth and as a driver for achieving durable results in the productive sector, in particular, agriculture, food security and industrial development. ACP is aware of the immense need of the poor communities in the rural and peri-urban areas for access to sustainable energy services. But clearly, aid alone will not be sufficient to finance the investments required to address these challenges. Participation by the private sector, ACP regional development banks, as well as other financial institutions and stakeholders, would be welcome. It is against this back drop that ACP Secretariat and UNIDO decided on 24 March 2011, in Brussels to enter into a Joint Memorandum of Understanding with a view to promoting renewable sources of energy, particularly in remote rural areas. We look forward to UNIDO to work with ACP Countries in enhancing their capacity for the efficient use and management of energy, natural resources and materials to produce less pollution and waste. In concluding, let me underline the utmost importance for us to distill a clear, actionable set of priorities that will enable us evolve more robust ways to improve the access of the rural and peri-urban poor to sustainable energy services. We congratulate the UNIDO and the Government of Austria for this brilliant initiative in putting the issue of energy consequently on the international Agenda through the Vienna Forum 2011. Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your kind attention.