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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

19 October 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellency, Mr. Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy of Thailand,

Excellency, Mr. Sinava Souphanouvong, Vice Minister of Energy and Mines of Lao PDR and Vice-Chair of the second Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF),

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to open the Third Asian and Pacific Energy Forum.

I wish to acknowledge the Ministry of Energy of the Royal Thai Government as the co-hosts of the Forum and thank them for their continuous efforts to support the organization of this event.

As you may know, the Forum is the only intergovernmental meeting organized by the United Nations focusing on energy issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

I am delighted to see such broad representation of participants, including many ministers, from 42 countries across the region.

Asia and the Pacific is at a critical juncture of the energy transition. The region is home to more than half of the world’s population, consumes more than 40 per cent of global energy, produces more than 50 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and is undergoing rapid development.

It is experiencing rapid growth in energy demand, which will continue in the coming years. This creates financial challenges, applies pressure on natural resources, strains the environment and makes it difficult for the region to meet its climate change commitments.

The theme of this Forum weaves together our common aspirations for our energy future; that is, an energy system of the future that is clean, low in carbon, secure and available as well as affordable to all.

Although the countries represented here have very different circumstances, energy endowments and levels of development, we are all taking the same journey together. Success in the energy transition is the key to delivering the SDGs and avoiding a climate catastrophe.

Excellencies,

The last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical disruptions have been turbulent times.

These crises have tested us all, resulting in economic shocks, energy supply price rises and supply chain disruptions, all of which have threatened progress on the energy transition and, more broadly, sustainable development.

These events remind us of the need for energy resilience and security to be considered alongside sustainability.

As we have emphasized in our analytical and normative work, aligning recovery strategies with the SDGs is critical.

For the energy sector, pursuing better energy efficiency, universal access to modern energy and increasing the share of renewable energy are strategies that can improve our collective ability to weather these shocks and recover better.

Countries across the region have worked consistently to deliver on their commitments under SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy. According to the ESCAP 2023 SDG Progress Report, Goal 7 is the best performing SDG for our region.

However, this was largely driven by achievements in access to electricity and international support for clean and renewable energy; there has been little progress in the share of renewable energy consumption.

As we are now beyond the halfway point of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, more progress is needed across the clean energy scoreboard.

We need to close the final gaps in electricity access, accelerate the deployment of clean cooking and renewable energy, become much more efficient in our energy use, and significantly increase the share of renewables into the energy mix.

When this Forum was last convened in 2018, the ESCAP Energy programme had just been constituted. Since then, we have worked diligently to expand our work in sustainable energy and provide a greater range of support to member States.

We have progressed in work on achieving Goal 7 and enhancing regional power grid connectivity. This work will be discussed in greater depth during today’s session.

To move this agenda forward, we have worked consistently with member States, and our support in the development of SDG 7 road maps has been welcomed by countries.

Sixteen countries have either developed or are in the process of completing SDG 7 road maps, while nine provinces or cities have partnered with ESCAP to develop sustainable energy transition road maps at the subnational level.

This engagement is leading to follow up support to countries to implement the road map recommendations. For example, we have worked with counties on analytical and policy development for national cooling action plans, a key means of reducing energy consumption in our region.

Our work on regional power connectivity, recognized as a key tool for enabling the energy transition, is guided by the Regional Road Map on Power System Connectivity.

The road map was developed together with our member States and provides a vision, a set of principles, and a set of strategies for how countries can work together to develop secure, sustainable and affordable power systems.

For example, one of the Road Map strategies highlights the importance of multilateral power trading, which can unlock the flexibility needed to enable the integration of high shares of renewable energy.

Since the last Forum, we have seen the development of some multilateral power trades, in particular in South-East Asia and South Asia. However, we still do not have regional power pools or other regional markets like the ones that exist in other parts of the world.

And, while there is growing interest in ensuring that power traded across borders is low-carbon, we still lack mechanisms for incentivizing and verifying the cross-border trade of renewable energy resources.

We are working with member States to address these and other issues through knowledge exchanges, capacity building as well as our analytical work.

This week, we are releasing the first draft of the Green Power Corridor Framework, which seeks to provide a set of building blocks, guiding principles and metrics for aligning connectivity efforts with sustainable development.

We must also recognize that the energy transition has implications for our region that extend beyond the energy sector itself.

As we phase down the use of fossil fuels and accelerate the deployment of clean energy technologies such as wind, solar PV and batteries, our energy systems will shift away from fuel-dependence to minerals-dependence.

Our region is both the major supplier and consumer of raw materials that are the key inputs into clean energy technologies.

We are working with our member States to ensure the just and sustainable extraction and processing of the materials, and this year, we have been privileged to represent the other regional commissions as one of the co-leads, with UNDP and UNEP, of the Secretary General’s Working Group on Transforming the Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development.

Excellencies,

The past few years have taught us that energy is a sector in which many negative impacts stemming from the current global crises are experienced.

Sustainable energy, however, holds many solutions: everything from renewable energy to energy efficiency and cross-border power system connectivity can lead to lower costs and carbon, diversified portfolios and enhanced security.

I look forward to a productive Forum, to hearing your views and your country statements and to the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration, which will guide the partnership between ESCAP and its members in this important work.

I am grateful to all of you for your commitment and your support to sustainable energy and regional cooperation.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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