Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy - Rural Energy:
Priorities for Action
11-13 December 2000
Official Executive Summary
Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
Energy: Priorities for Action
- 13 December 2000
(please note: this Executive Summary was produced by the organizers of the meeting, and is not an IISD publication. IISD's 10,000 word summary of this meeting is online at: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/gfse1/)
of the GFSE
Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE) is intended as a platform for
multi-stake-holder dialogue on issues pertinent to energy for sustainable
development. It grew out of the outreach efforts of the World Energy
Assessment and is envisaged to orchestrate a series of dialogues that will
facilitate decision-making on policy issues in the appropriate fora and
promote concrete cooperation endeavors in the field.
Message of the First Meeting of the GFSE
First Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy, dedicated to
„Rural Energy: Priorities for Action“ concluded with a strong plea for
the central role of energy policy interventions with a view of eradicating
poverty and achieving the internationally agreed development targets.
studies demonstrate clearly how lack of access to modern energy carriers
limits development opportunities, perpetuates poverty and social injustice
and places a severe burden on human health and the local, regional and
implement the goal accepted by the international community to halve the
proportion of people living on less than $ 1 /day by 2015, access to affordable modern energy carriers is a pre-requisite.
Today an estimated 2 billion people lack access to electricity and use
traditional fuels for cooking. It is proposed to adopt a clear goal: To
reduce the proportion of people without access to clean and affordable
fuels and electricity by half by 2015. This will require a combined effort
of the public and private sectors and civil society, and targeted
regulatory, financial, institutional and education training efforts as
well as significantly increased streams of public and private investments.
the energy requirements to meet the basic needs in rural areas represent a
minor fraction of global oil consumption, it should be possible to meet
this energy need, provided there is sufficient political will. Political
will is required especially to generate the public money needed to provide
transitional finance until the rural poor can generate sufficient income
to be able to pay full cost. In the long term, in principle users should
pay the full cost. Although many poor people pay in the order of 10 $ a
month for energy, many modern energy carriers are beyond their present
capacity to pay.
reach the goal of reducing the proportion of people without access to
modern energy carriers by half, the determined promotion of both
conventional energy, especially LPG to meet cooking needs, and renewable
energy, especially biomass fueling modern conversion technologies both in
decentralized and grid-connected systems, are essential. The provision of
clean fuels and of electricity are to be simultaneously advanced.
There was a convergence of views on the important, complementary roles that governments and the private sector have to play in a two-pronged approach in order to address the problem of energy access effectively. The private sector was felt to be best-placed to address these needs where functioning commercial markets can be created. The public sector’s main role was perceived as addressing market reforms and providing transitional finance, including properly crafted subsidies, using domestic budgets, development bank loans and ODA. The public thrust could begin with a new „donor pledge“ to target funds to leverage market transformation and avoid competing with/crowding out private investment. Furthermore governments could direct export credit agency lending so as to promote sustainable energy technologies for rural areas.
this regard it was felt that a new level of public-private cooperation
should be found with public institutions working in concert with private
investors. Since ODA flows will always be scarce - even if they are
increased as was felt is necessary - it seemed important to establish how
ODA could best contribute to creating suitable framework conditions for
attracting private investments. Ways have to be found to match local
affordability with the commercial need for adequate returns.
felt that - given the wide variety of circumstances - solutions to address
the energy access problem should be tailor-made. No one solution would fit
all situations; various energy sources should not be played off against
each other; since both renewables and conventional energy would be needed.
Energy solutions should build on local knowledge and be suited to local
needs. Regional cooperation was encouraged.
policy - regarded as a sectoral activity - must seek to be compatible with
sustainable development. Furthermore energy considerations must be treated
in a cross-sectoral way and integrated in development priorities and
lack of adequate data on the energy situation in developing countries,
especially in rural areas, was high-lighted.
the key policy issues to be addressed the following were emphasized:
n multi-stake-holder undertakings to bring together actors from all
key sectors in the energy field to identify compatible public/private
n the need to enhance coherence between finance, energy & environment agencies, both at the domestic and international levels;
n market reform („re-regulation“ rather than de-regulation to
enable the markets to function in ways compatible with sustainable
development), creating the right framework conditions to attract
investment from domestic and international capital;
n realistic pricing systems (users pay for usage, access may be
n link local agriculture and cottage industries to rural energy
n capitalize on synergies between many greenhouse gas reduction
strategies and expanded delivery of modern energy services.
following were highlighted as priority actions:
n Financing institutions to extend favourable conditions for
„new“ renewables (e.g. by treating loans for „new“ renewables on
a par basis - concerning payback periods, grace periods, interest rates,
etc. - with conventional energy project with similar risk/reward profile
and by offering „blended“ financial products that mix available
concessional resources with commercial offerings and which are therefore
tailored to the needs of investment opportunities in the off-grid and
n Donors to make available additional funds and to work towards
n Developing countries to introduce regulatory systems to promote
rural energy access (e.g. financing connections, covering up-front
capital costs, renewable portfolio standards, etc.);
n Public finance - even „proper“ subsidies - should be required
when commercial grade investments are absent; subsidies (with
„sunset“ clauses) for demand side, applied to access costs, not
n Promote local energy enterprises as employment opportunities -
enhance local private entrepreneurs ; developing local dealers to sell
maintain/equipment, built on local retail networks and relationships;
n Concessions (with potential for subsidies as needed) to create
delivery networks through local franchises.
need for agreement on a
concrete action plan - with active involvement of private sector
representatives - at CSD 9 was emphasized.
150 participants attended the First Meeting of the GFSE in their personal
capacity. They represented governments, academia, the private sector (i.a.WBCSD,
WEC, E7, Shell, BP, Verbund-Plan ), international organisations (UNDP,
DESA, FAO, UNIDO, UNEP, IIASA, IEA, IAEA, World Bank, ICSU) and NGOs. The
meeting was co-sponsored by Austria, UNDP and IIASA. Financial support
toward the participation of experts from developing countries from Norway,
Sweden and LEAD is gratefully acknowledged.
report on the First Meeting of the GFSE will be circulated as an official
contribution to the deliberations of the Commission on Sustainable
Development on Energy in April 2001 and will also be submitted to UNCTAD
in the lead-up to the Third Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC
III) in May 2001 in Brussels.
Meetings of the GFSE
usefulness of bringing together various stake-holders in a neutral and
informal setting of the GFSE was generally acknowledged and the
willingness was expressed to continue to cooperate on future occasions. A
next meeting of the GFSE could study the respective roles of FDI and ODA
in the context of facilitating the transfer of energy technologies.
Provisions for holding such a meeting in 2001 have been made by the
Austrian side. The decision about the topic will be taken in the light of
the outcome of CSD 9. The readiness of the City of Graz to host a Meeting
of the GFSE in 2002 was gratefully noted. In order to guide the future
work of the GFSE an international advisory board will be electronically
by the IISD on the First Meeting of the GFSE
A 10,000 word summary of the meeting by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is also posted on the web: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/gfse1/
questions and comments on the GFSE
contact the Convenor of the First Meeting of the GFSE
Tel: +43-1-263 72 91
Fax: + 43-1-263 72 81
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