Vienna Energy Forum highlights role of energy in achieving climate and development goals

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The Vienna Energy Forum, which was held last week in the Austrian capital, highlighted the connections between energy, climate and development and the key role of energy in the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate.

The event brought together more than 1,650 participants from 128 countries, including heads of state, ministers, energy experts, representatives of international and non-governmental organisations, academia, civil society and the private sector. It was organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Austrian Government, and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

Participants at the Forum agreed on ten key messages, including:

• With the global megatrend of rapid urbanisation, its proportionally growing energy demand and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions, cities are calling for innovative approaches to urban design and transformative change. One of the solutions could be innovative infrastructure that uses renewable energy in an efficient way to cope with the rising demand of energy without detrimental impact on the climate and the environment.

• Technological innovations are central for sustainable energy development. New concepts and game-changing technologies are being introduced, but the level of readiness remains uncertain. This is the first generation that has the technology to solve climate change and related problems of sustainability. Current development strategies need to be continuously updated to reflect newly available technological innovations.

• Sustainable solutions depend on innovative and inclusive business models that can be scaled up, replicated, and are self-sustaining. These business models exist already and are ripe for financing by financial institutions, development banks, as well as private investors. The financial resources necessary to accomplish SDG 7 and the Paris Agreement also exist, yet the appropriate instruments are not being applied in a way that enables new businesses to blossom and large-scale projects to move forward. This represents a collective opportunity for collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sector to provide such solutions.

LI Yong, Director General of UNIDO, commented: "The implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement calls for a global transformation that clearly goes beyond the energy sector. Holistic technology solutions, entrepreneurship, innovation in policies, new financing instruments and partnerships are urgently needed to achieve the desired scale of global change and inclusive and sustainable development."

Rachel Kyte, CEO of SEforALL, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, added: "The global goals on energy agreed in 2015, together with our commitments under the Paris Agreement, must herald increased action to secure an energy transition that provides sustainable energy for all. We are not on track yet, and we urgently need to be.

"Better energy means a revolution in energy productivity, a focus on ending energy poverty and much more renewables. This will secure clean air, new jobs, warm schools, clean buses, pumped water and better yields of nutritious food. The price of technology is dropping, smart policy exists, finance exists, and we must now bring these together where they are needed most. Promises made should be kept. If we know we can build these energy systems not just for the few, but for all, why would we wait?"

 Sustainable Development Goals

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