Leaders of policy, business and academia convened today following the Opening Ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) for a series of High Level Panel discussions about themajor social, economic and environmental trends shaping the global energy transformation.
His Excellency Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the United Arab Emirates, provided the welcoming address, while explaining the importance of harnessing global knowledge to help nations and communities address sustainability challenges effectively, affordably and collaboratively.
He said: “The UAE is very keen on meeting sustainability criteria across all industries. The UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Energy Strategy for 2050 provide various indicators and plans to ensure an efficient and integrated approach to achieving sustainability locally is in place.
“On an international level, the UAE has a prominent role to play in deploying environmental sustainability solutions and energy generation enterprises, particularly in nations that lack the funding and the investments to implement these solutions. In line with this role, the UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund was created, and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority joined a coalition of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds at the One Planet Summit.”
Al Zeyoudi stated that with the growing population, expanding economies, advancing technological innovation, pressing environmental issues and increasing impacts of climate change, the UAE is after a sustainable energy transition, in which renewable energy and clean technologies play a central role.
Alongside these political commitments, he added, the price for renewables has been dropping. Since 2009, solar prices have dropped more than 62%, making renewables one of the most economically and environmentally preferred energy options today.
“The UAE has played a leading role in helping other nations reach their sustainability goals. The UN Sustainable Development Goals have called for the need to ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable modern energy to all, and has stipulated that the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix must substantially increase by 2030. ADSW is bringing together industry experts and entrepreneurs from around the world to one platform to forge solutions and initiatives towards achieving global sustainability,” he said.
The Minister further added that around 150 countries have so far included renewables in their Nationally Determined Contributions to fulfil objectives of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. If fully implemented, they will result in added capacity of 80 gigawatts each year globally, through 2030. Most world countries understand the importance of changing how we generate energy to maintain natural resources and achieve environmental sustainability.
H.E. Al Zeyoudi stressed that the UAE has initiated this transition years ago, by incorporating new energy sources, such as solar plants, to the mix. Notable projects in this area are the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest single-site solar park in the world, and Shams Solar Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. These evolutions are taking place in the context of the state’s ambitious clean energy targets of 27% by 2021, and 50% by 2050.
Among the key topics discussed during the High Level Panels was “easternisation”, which refers to the shift in political and economic influence from the west towards Asia, led by China, India and Japan.
As part of this shift, China has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy innovation and deployment, having already surpassed its 2020 target for installed solar power capacity, while India has pledged to deploy 175GW of renewable energy projects by 2022. This is presenting significant opportunities for Gulf countries to support Asia’s energy transition, as well as providing potential for trade and investment partnerships throughout the region.
Afshin Molavi, an author and renowned expert on political and economic risks at Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute, provided a scene-setting overview about easternisation before a keynote address from H.E Shri R K Singh, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Republic of India.
Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of Total, the world’s fourth-largest oil and gas company, provided his perspective on this important trend before a panel discussion took place about the investment opportunities which it presents. This was moderated by Rafiq Dossani, Director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy (CAPP), and included Cedrik Neike, Member, Managing Board, Siemens AG; Song Dongsheng, President, PowerChina Intl and Chairman of Sinohydro; Nabil Habayeb, President and CEO of GE Middle East; and H.E Awaidha Al Marar, Chairman of the UAE Department of Energy.
The easternisation discussion was rounded off with a one-on-one interview of Manoj Kohli, Executive Chairman of SB Energy, part of Japanese multinational SoftBank Group, moderated by Dr Nawal Al Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and Deputy Director General of Emirates Diplomatic Academy.
The High Level Panel discussions then moved onto the overall theme of this year’s ADSW, which is “Driving the Global Energy Transformation”. Bernardino León, President of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, was moderator for panellists including H.E. Nicolas Hulot, French Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition; H.E. Suhail Al Mazroui, UAE Minister of Energy; H.E. Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); and H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
The High Level Panels closed with a keynote address from H.E. Miroslav Lajčák, the 72nd President of the United Nations General Assembly and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Slovak Republic.
With ADSW now well underway, a key aim of activities during the week is to engage young people. Events will include the annual Student Exclusive and a Youth Circle, as well as the Climate Innovation Exchange (CLIX), which is being held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. CLIX will provide emerging entrepreneurs and innovators with the chance to forge partnerships with leading global investors.
The anchor event of ADSW is the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), the world’s foremost exhibition and conference dedicated to the advancement of renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. WFES marks its eleventh anniversary this year.
Also taking place during ADSW, which runs until January 20, are the sixth International Water Summit (IWS); the fifth EcoWASTE exhibition; the tenth Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony; the third UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science Awards ceremony; and The Festival at Masdar City.
For the full ADSW 2018 calendar, visit www.abudhabisustainabilityweek.com.