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Ninth Session of ESCWA Committee on Energy Convenes in Kuwait

The progress achieved in the field of Energy in the ESCWA member countries; the projects achieved and those planned to be implemented in member countries; and the adoption and implementation of renewable energy technologies in member countries were the main subjects of discussion by the ninth session of the ESCWA Committee on Energy, which was held at the Regency Hotel of Kuwait City on 12-13 June 2013 with the participation of representatives from member countries specialized in the field of Energy.
The session discussed the outcomes of international and regional meetings in the field of Energy, and especially those of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and the Intergovernmental Consultative Meeting on the Water-Energy Nexus in ESCWA Member Countries.
Following the opening, which included the statement of ESCWA delivered by Director of the Regional Commission’s Sustainable Development and Productivity Division Roula Majdalani, and the statement of the Kuwait
Institute for Scientific Research (KISR),
delivered by Osama Al Sayegh, the Committee elected the session’s officers. In accordance with the Arabic alphabetical order employed by the United Nations, Libya assumed the chairmanship of the Session, Lebanon and Egypt the vice-chairmanship and Morocco the role of rapporteur.

In her opening speech, Majdalani said that much can be done to increase energy efficiency in most Arab countries, which, in coming years, will suffer from the dangers of falling short of meeting the increased demand for power that will rise by 115 percent during the years 2011-2020.

Majdalani emphasized the importance of the energy sector for the United Nations. She noted that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched an initiative entitled “Sustainable Energy for All” in September 2011, which includes three objectives to be realized by 2030: firstly, stabilize climate change and ensure universal access to modern energy services; secondly, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and thirdly, double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. “As such, we are working within these directives, with a focus on our region-specific priorities. It cannot be overlooked that 70 percent of the Sudanese population and 50 percent of the Yemeni population are left without electricity to this day,” Majdalani said.

“Evidently, climate change is a comprehensive and ongoing crisis that gives reason to worry, especially in our region, where dangers of desertification, water scarcity, and warming. Fighting climate change requires urgent and ambitious work that respects the principles and provisions of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, we assert that even though the responsibility is shared, it is certainly differentiated. Developed countries that were essential protagonists in the accumulation of emissions in space since the industrial revolution, should fulfill their duty in supporting developing countries, of which Arab countries are part,” Majdalani noted.

She concluded by saying that achieving aforementioned directions and objectives requires laying the grounds for good governance, creating a supportive environment that is stable on the political, security, social and legislative fronts, and an investment-friendly atmosphere that boosts public-private partnerships.”

For his part, Al Sayegh, said that compared to natural gas and non-fossil fuel, oil is expected to be the slowest growing demanded fuel over the next 20 years. “The main growing supply regions of natural gas are the Middle East with 26 per cent of global growth and the Former Soviet Union with 19 per cent growth rate, considerable incremental supply growth of 12 per cent is also expected from Australia, China, and the USA,” he added.

Al Sayegh concluded that the foreseen era of the East Asia is refining petrochemical industry to meet the growing demand of oil refine products. “Hence, we need to establish strong foundation to develop the right working skills and put more investments in reinforcing refining and petrochemical technologies. Moreover, policies should be developed and applied to promote renewable energy and apply energy efficiency practices,” he noted.

The ninth session of ESCWA Committee on Energy was preceded by a workshop on Oil and Gas Pricing Parameters Influencing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Activities, held at KISR headquarters on 11 June 2013. The workshop aimed at exchanging ideas and opinions, and exploring visions and latest developments in this regard.
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