The Fifth Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE-5) was held from 11-13 May 2005, at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Austria. The meeting considered the theme of “Enhancing International Cooperation on Biomass.” In particular, GFSE-5 focused on biomass, with special emphasis on strengthening the institutional capacity to promote South-South cooperation.
GFSE-5 also brought together various energy-related partnerships announced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002, in order to discuss their progress. GFSE-5 was convened by Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, Director General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Austria. The co-sponsors included: the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, City of Vienna, UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). An estimated 160 participants representing government agencies, UN bodies, business and industry, non-governmental organizations and academia attended the Forum.
Participants at GFSE-5 met in Plenary sessions to hear presentations and engage in discussions on a variety of relevant topics, including: potentials and challenges for increasing biomass use; synergies and dangers between food and biofuel crops; the example of Africa; and pledges from a panel of international organizations and partnerships. Participants also convened in two Working Groups to discuss biofuels for sustainable transport and biomass for electricity production and household heating. On GFSE-5’s final day, delegates reconvened in Plenary to hear reports from the Working Groups and to hold panel discussions on regional views on strengthening institutional capacity for biomass, and on the way forward.
As well as the Plenary sessions and Working Groups, delegates met for consultations held in parallel with the official sessions. Consultations were held between experts and senior officials of the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC) and UN-Energy, and participants from the Energy Initiatives Meeting convened in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, 10 May. In addition, participants attending GFSE-5 were invited on a field trip to Bruck a.d Leitha Biogas and Biomass District Heating Plant.
GFSE-5 is expected to contribute to ongoing work on enhancing incentives for sustainable energy and building international energy partnerships. In particular, GFSE-5 recommendations will feed into the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, which is taking place in New York in September 2005. They will also serve as input into the 2006-2007 cycle of the Commission on Sustainable Development, which will be focusing on energy issues. (Read more.)