Experts Recommend Steps for Integrated Energy Transition in Asia-Pacific

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) convened an event on the side of the Ministerial Thematic Forums for the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy. The event reviewed lessons learned from Asia-Pacific to promote clean and affordable energy for all (SDG 7) and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Speakers presented recommendations for action, particularly with regard to adopting integrated approaches.

The side event titled, ‘Integrated approaches to boost SDG7 and climate-relevant SDG actions towards sustainability in the Asia-Pacific,’ took place on 21 June 2021, immediately prior to the opening of the Ministerial Thematic Forums for the High-level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE). Junichi Fujino, IGES, moderated the event.

Speakers reviewed the findings of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (ESCAP) Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2021, which finds the region is likely to miss the 2030 targets on access to energy services and energy efficiency. It indicates that more investment and international cooperation is required. Speakers also presented the recommendations from the reports of the five Technical Working Groups that were developed as inputs to the HLDE.

Armida Salsiah Alsjahbana, ESCAP Executive Secretary and co-lead of the HLDE Technical Working Group on Energy Transition, noted that energy transition efforts in Asia-Pacific include broadening social protection and working to mend the “broken relationship with nature.”

Minoru Takada, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said systemic changes to energy will be needed to achieve SDG 7 and the Paris Agreement on climate change. He noted that the Asia-Pacific region is home to the most people and is the most diverse global region, which makes the challenge of the energy transition enormous.

Leena Srivastava, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said a key message in the Technical Working Group report on ‘enabling the SDGs through inclusive and just energy transition’ is that context matters. She noted that every country and region has to develop its own plan so it can achieve all of the SDGs, and implementation has to be inclusive and participatory, including with regard to gender. She also highlighted that: energy is a driver for other SDGs; opportunities to reduce demand should be explored; digitization provides new opportunities; and new models of decentralized energy consumption and production should be created. She suggested that data analyses need to go beyond examinations of the distance yet to be traveled, which focuses on our failures. Instead, she said we should move to analytics and narratives that highlight opportunities.

Kazuhiko Takeuchi, President of IGES and member of the Technical Working Group on Enabling SDGs through Inclusive, Just Energy Transitions, noted that energy systems are a cross-cutting issue for many SDGs and other global frameworks, including the Paris Agreement, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Nandakumar Janardhanan, IGES, discussed the importance of co-innovation, which he defined as a collaborative and iterative approach to jointly innovate, manufacture, and scale-up technologies. He said innovation usually takes place behind closed doors, while co-innovation recognizes the contributions all partners.

Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), and Member of Technical Working Group on Finance and Investment, discussed the need to achieve clean cooking access. He said the environmental and energy sectors need to communicate at the domestic level.

Nazmul Haque, Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), Bangladesh, and member of the Technical Working Group on Innovation, Technology and Data, stressed the need to focus on local technology and developing culturally appropriate cooking solutions.

Hongpeng Liu, ESCAP, and co-lead of the Technical Working Group on Energy Transition, stressed that enhanced regional cooperation is essential and South-South cooperation can play a role, especially in identifying best practices. He noted that the phase-out of coal will create new issues and challenges that should be addressed collaboratively. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]


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