The Vienna Energy Forum 2018 Special Session (VEF2018) kicked off on Monday with special focus on the importance of energy system transformation, innovative climate technology, and partnerships for increasing access to energy around the world.
VEF2018 is organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and in collaboration with Austria's Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the Austrian Development Agency, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Sustainable Energy for All
Liu Zhenmin, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted: “This year’s review of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) presents a critical occasion for taking stock, strengthening our energy-related commitments and redoubling our efforts to meet SDG7 targets. Outcomes of this year’s VEF will inform the HLPF’s review of SDG7 on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”
IIASA Deputy Director General Nebojsa Nakicenovic said: “The SDGs provide an aspirational vision for betterment of humanity without leaving anyone behind. The VEF was instrumental in defining the three targets of SDG7 on energy. While SDG7 is central to sustainable development, the 2030 Agenda is holistic and integrative. Science, technology and innovation roadmaps for SDG7 and other SDGs will be essential for rendering the 2030 Agenda into actionable initiatives. I look forward to VEF2018 providing a unique setting for reaching energy goals and a sustainable future for all.”
A series of plenary and round table discussions are highlighting the opportunities and challenges for developing countries, including the emerging global energy system driven by technological innovation and new policy priorities, and the vast market potential of clean technology as an industry and as a solution for making industrialization sustainable. One cross-cutting theme has been the need for partnerships in order to remove existing barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency investments and markets.
Robert Zeiner, ADA Director of International Programs and Projects, pointed out that the recently released Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report shows that, despite progress in certain areas, the world is not on track to meet SDG7 by 2030. He said: “This shows an urgent need for action at an increased scale and speed. Innovative partnerships and approaches are essential accelerators to set us back on track, but they also require a good structure and framework. We are convinced that the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centers offers these benefits, and can make a substantial contribution towards achieving affordable and clean energy for all.”
More than 300 participants are attending the Forum, including government ministers, representatives from the UN, other international organizations, the private sector and academia, as well as energy experts.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said: “I am delighted that this Forum has firmly established itself in Vienna, thereby creating a mutually beneficial partnership between the Forum and the city. While the Forum gains momentum from Vienna’s international background and status as energy hub, the city in turn attracts attention through the Forum as a place where sustainability and green living matter, emphasizing its role as a centre of worldwide energy dialogue.”
The VEF2018 will also contribute to the Austrian World Summit, with two panels, one presenting the key outcomes of the first day’s discussions, and the second on the role of technology innovation and entrepreneurship for empowering women and youth.
Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of SEforALL, said: "We need urgent action. Technology plays a key role married with policy and finance. The case for investing and fast-tracking energy access has never been stronger. Governments with large access gaps which prioritize integrated planning emphasizing both grid- and decentralized solutions are beginning to achieve speed and scale. Others should follow suit."