Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
"Energy Technologies: Cooperation for Rural Development"
28-30 November 2001
IIASA, Laxenburg (near Vienna), Austria
Official Executive Summary
Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy
Energy Technologies: Cooperation for Rural Development
28 - 30 November 2001
(please note: this Executive Summary was produced by the organizers of the meeting, and is not an IISD publication.
IISD's summary of this meeting is online at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/sd/gfse2/)
1. The Second Meeting of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE) took place from 28 through 30 November 2001 at the Headquarters of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, near Vienna, Austria. The Meeting was devoted to the overall topic "Energy Technologies: Cooperation for Rural Development" and brought together some 85 participants from some 50 countries, speaking in their personal capacities from a perspective of governments, international organizations, private sector, NGOs, and academia .
2. The GFSE is a platform form multi-stake-holder dialogue on issues pertinent to energy for sustainable development. The initiative, launched by the Austrian Foreign Minister, grew out of the outreach efforts of the World Energy Assessment and is envisaged to orchestrate a series of dialogues to facilitate decision-making on policy issues in the appropriate for a and to foster public-private partnerships.
3. The First and the Second Meetings of the GFSE were dedicated to rural energy, because of the urgency of bringing energy services to the more than 2 billion people currently without access to modern energy - a prerequisite for reaching the goal accepted by the international community to halve the proportion of people living on less than US $ 1 per day by 2015.
Main Points of the Second Meeting
4. The Second Meeting of the GFSE took stock of the international energy discourse as it has been evolving through the intergovernmental consensus recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable Development at its 9th session (CSD-9, April 2001), the Plan of Action of the Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-III, May 2002) and the preparatory process leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, in September 2002.
5. The Meeting discussed how the transfer of energy technologies suitable for rural development can be facilitated and examined several case-studies. Regional break-out sessions for the African and the Asian regions facilitated networking and better understanding of the particular challenges in a given region. Participants from various stake-holders presented views on enabling policy environments and on creating conditions for private sector involvement in the transfer of energy technologies suitable for rural needs.
Conclusions and Recommendations
6. In its concluding session the Meeting heard various views on what would constitute a desirable outcome at the Johannesburg Summit. The main points can be summarized as follows:
- A) Johannesburg should emphasize the message that energy is a crucial ingredient of sustainable development and that the internationally agreed development goals on poverty alleviation, education, health etc. will require progress on providing access to modern energy services to those currently without it;
- B) Energy is thus seen not as an end in and of itself but rather as a means to achieving the international development goals; quantitative indicators for energy were considered useful in order to measure progress;
- C) In order to ensure that a strong statement about energy's role in the pursuit of internationally agreed development targets emanates from Johannesburg, this message should be carried forward by interested governments, NGOs and the private sector.
- D) Efforts should be undertaken to involve the relevant line-ministries (ministries of energy, economy, development etc.) in the lead-up to Johannesburg;
- E) Johannesburg should also set in motion a suitable process to develop a work program on energy for sustainable development for the years to come; it was deplored that rural energy in particular and energy for sustainable development in general did not have well-defined institutional homes with sufficient resources; Johannesburg was seen as an occasion to enhance the institutional set-up;
- F) With regard to the provision of energy services to rural populations, it was emphasized that both thermo-energy needs (for heating, cooking and food-processing) and electrification need to be considered, that energy services need to be both available and affordable and that their provision should be socially equitable, economically efficient, lead to empowerment and safeguard the environment; options for this exist, the main short term challenge being implementation and the long term challenge new technology; lessons learned from projects with varying degrees of success provide valuable information for the continued efforts;
- G) Given the wide variety of country situations, it was felt that the various energy options should remain open and that decisions need to be taken on a case by case basis as to which energy forms could best promote sustainable development;
- H) With regard to financing, the point was strongly made that financing is available through channels such as the IFC, but that there was a shortage of good projects that would withstand scrutiny from the perspective of conventional engineering and economics;
- I) Markets will be important to deliver access to modern energy in rural areas; however, as long as the market place is significantly tilted against such work, progress will be slow. Governments should take action to remove subsidies to conventional energy, reflect external cost in market conditions, remove import barriers that discriminate against sustainable energy options, and shift preferences of export credit agencies to sustainable energy options;
- J) Since rural energy projects in very poor areas cannot be expected to yield profits in the near term the role of public funding was emphasized and the question about the need of innovative funding, including the creation of a trust fund for renewable energy projects in rural areas, was raised;
- K) The role of governments in integrating energy considerations in national plans for rural development, in lowering transaction costs and in providing seed money for project development was emphasized. Furthermore it was pointed out that OECD governments could influence the current R&D spending on energy of which only 10 percent are devoted currently to energy efficiency and 10 percent to renewables.
- L) It was felt that there was a particular need for systems to facilitate regional and national innovation and transfer of sustainable energy technologies. In addition, it was pointed out that many SMEs needed help in formulating business plans and project proposals that would give them access to available funding sources.
7. Regarding the future development of the GFSE, participants felt that - in addition to energy specialists - "general" development specialists should be invited to get the message on energy's importance for development into the mainstream of the development discourse. In this regard, a role was seen for GFSE in the area of awareness building and dissemination. Participants recommended the activation of the existing website of the GFSE to enable intersessional interaction among the participants. Several participants announced, that they would seek to identify concrete cooperation ideas in the next months so that the appropriate stake-holder dialogues could be focused and action-oriented at the next meeting of the GFSE. The development of a GFSE-manual for the evaluation of rural energy projects was proposed.
8. It is gratefully acknowledged that funding for the Second Meeting of the GFSE was provided by the following entities: the Austrian Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Environment), the City of Vienna, the Norwegian Government, the Lead-Foundation, IIASA, UNDP and UNIDO.
9. The Third Meeting of the GFSE is scheduled for 27 through 29 November 2002 and will be hosted by the City of Graz. The tentative topic for the Third Meeting is "Public-Private Partnerships for Rural Energy Development".
Documentation on the Second Meeting of the GFSE
10. A detailed report of the Second Meeting of the GFSE, prepared by IISD, is posted at the web-site of IISD at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/sd/gfse2/. Powerpoint presentations made at the Second Meeting can be viewed at the eb-site www.sustainable-energy.org . This Executive Summary and the detailed IISD-report will be forwarded to the UN-Secretary General under a cover-letter of the Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN in Vienna and circulated as an official input to the WSSD process. For further information on the GFSE please contact the Convenor, Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl at firstname.lastname@example.org
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