Vienna Energy Forum 2018 - Special Session

The special session of the Vienna Energy Forum took place from 14-16 May 2018 and was attended by 430 participants, in order to provide feedback on Sustainable Development Goal 7.

The special session was organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). In comparison to previous VEFs, this special session was organized to provide input to the formal review of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (energy) by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) taking place in New York in July.

The main focus of the discussions was on the energy transition, energy access, the challenges and opportunities of energy efficiency, the Clean Energy Package and considerations of the private sector. The significance of partnerships and the interlinkages between different Sustainable Development Goals were also stated over the course of the sessions. The roundtables also addressed the key role of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups in the energy transition. In addition, the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC) and the regional initiatives elaborating on the approaches that are contributing to the scaling-up of clean energy. The high-level segment reflected on the role of the international community, the national experiences and the effective ways to contribute to the acceleration of the energy transition.

The first plenary session titled “Energy System Transformation:  Opportunities and Challenges for Developing and Emerging Economies” highlighted how decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation are transforming the energy sector. Innovations in technology, policy, regulatory and market frameworks, financing instruments, operational and planning practices and business models are re-enforcing each other’s contributions towards energy systems, which increasingly based on a combination of decentralised renewable energy, energy efficiency, communication and information technologies and smart and flexible infrastructure. Although these new emerging energy systems are presenting numerous new opportunities, challenges also exist. International organisations can help foster public-private partnerships to implement pilot projects combining digital technologies and decentralised low-carbon energy systems to accelerate adoption and support the creation of local value chains for renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries.

The second plenary session on “Climate & Clean Energy Technology and Innovation: Empowering and Catalyzing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Climate Innovation in Developing Countries” continued the discussions by looking at how a diversified and dynamic industrialization can contribute to development, job creation, poverty eradication, gender equality and other goals. Unlike in the past, clean technologies are allowing for a paradigm change as they enable pursuing industrial development and achieving structural transformation with a reduced environmental footprint, higher resource efficiency, reduced waste and lower GHG emissions. Clean energy and climate technologies are a key element of sustainable industrialisation, enabling the use of climate-friendly technologies in industry and the manufacturing of low-carbon products. However, for inclusive and sustainable industrialisation to be effectively undertaken in developing countries, a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem in the fields of climate and clean energy technologies is necessary. The climate and clean technology sectors offer opportunities and challenges for SMEs. A cross-sectoral and multi-level approach to build a sustainable “ecosystem” for innovative entrepreneurship in SMEs is necessary to support climate and clean energy innovation in developing countries. This requires sound legal and regulatory frameworks both for clean technologies and innovative SMEs, facilitating access to finance, business support through incubators and accelerators, support to technology development as well as early-stage technology validation and market development, among others.

International energy technology cooperation supports the achievement of SDG7, SDG9 and SDG13 and is an important component of SDG 17 (“partnership for the goals”) in the sustainable energy sector. Technology cooperation is key to achieving the levels of innovation and technical change, which are necessary to advance the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This was the topic of the 3rd plenary session on “Delivering Prosperity through Partnerships: North-South and South-South Technology Cooperation”, which was chaired by Christine Lins. The President of the Global Forum on Sustainable Energy (GFSE), Dr. Irene Giner-Reichl, stressed the lack of gender balance at all levels in the energy sector. In her remarks, she stated the slow progress on universal energy access and the significant impact of traditional cooking fuels on women. She also highlighted the importance of opportunities that contribute to progress on low carbon energy infrastructure. Mr. Robert Zeiner (ADA) emphasized the critical role regional initiatives and centers of excellence play in creating an enabling environment and reducing barriers for sustainable energy approaches.

Two VEF side events were held within the framework of the Austrian World Summit on the 15th of May. These side events presented the key messages from the VEF2018, while looking at technology innovation and entrepreneurship for inclusive development with a specific focus on women and youth empowerment.

The summary of the IISD reporting can be found under the following link.

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