A report from IISD Reporting Services
Volume 30 Number 03 – Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Monday, 4 April 2011
On Monday, 4 April, the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held its inaugural session.
REPORT OF THE ASSEMBLY
OPENING OF THE SESSION AND ORGANIZATION OF WORK: The Assembly elected by acclamation Sultan Al Jaber (UAE) as President. A minute of silence was observed for the victims of disasters. The Assembly adopted: the provisional agenda (A/1/L.1/Rev.1); rules of procedure (A1/DC/L.1); and participation of observers (A/1/DC/L.2).
ELECTION OF OFFICERS: Conrod Hunte (Antigua and Barbuda), Stephen Motsa (Swaziland), Benedikt Høskuldsson (Iceland), and Alexander Mikhalevich (Belarus) were elected as vice-presidents, and Abubakar Sani Sambo (Nigeria) as rapporteur. The Credentials Committee was appointed, consisting of Bangladesh, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, the Gambia, Iceland, Norway, India, Swaziland and UAE. GERMANY put forward the designation of Abu Dhabi, UAE, as the permanent seat of IRENA (A/1/DC/L.11), which was adopted by acclamation.
APPOINTMENT OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Adnan Amin (Kenya) was sworn in as Director-General for a term of four years (A1/DC/L.12). Amin accepted the post “with humility and a great sense of responsibility,” highlighting his trust that IRENA will meet the expectations of the international community. The UAE congratulated the members of IRENA on electing its first Director-General, and thanked Amin for his work thus far in bringing IRENA on the “right track.”
HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT: The session, held in the morning and afternoon, was attended by one Head of State, over 50 ministers, 30 ministerial-level representatives, and Heads of UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations. Participants addressed issues such as development and energy access, the role and governance of IRENA, climate change and national experiences.
Amin thanked the UAE and Germany for their instrumental roles in bringing IRENA to life, noting that renewable energy is “essential and inescapable for the survival of our endangered planet.”
Siale ‘Ataongo Kaho, Prime Minster, TONGA, said IRENA must be innovative and not follow the example of international financial and donor institutions, which do not often positively impact development.
Most delegates thanked the UAE for hosting the meeting, noting its generous hospitality. Many delegations expressed their condolences to Japan regarding the recent natural and nuclear disasters.
Numerous countries, including INDIA, TONGA, GERMANY, IRAQ and UAE outlined national efforts to promote the use of renewable energy. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA highlighted the Global Green Growth Initiative. ECUADOR mentioned the foregoing of oil exploration in the Yasuní National Park. MALAYSIA highlighted initiatives for the scaling up of solar energy and the promotion of biodiesel. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA congratulated UAE on the development of Masdar City and called for the exchange of best practices. MARSHALL ISLANDS encouraged IRENA to use his country as a place to conduct research on energy access and efficiency in vulnerable areas. TURKEY and AUSTRALIA indicated their willingness to share their experiences and best practices with the international community.
BANGLADESH, SAMOA and others identified high investment costs and lack of access to technology as significant barriers to renewable energy uptake. SIERRA LEONE underscored his country’s hopes that renewables will help hasten economic development and welcomed IRENA as a facilitator. SPAIN stressed technology transfer for development, and the need to involve industry.
SOUTH AFRICA said the international community needs IRENA’s support to illustrate the role renewables can play in providing baseload energy capacity, as well as in eradicating energy poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). CHAD highlighted that the MDGs cannot be achieved without advancement on energy issues, and, in developing countries, energy issues cannot be addressed without assistance from organizations such as IRENA. The African Union (AU) said energy is one of Africa’s largest infrastructural problems, and described AU’s efforts to address this challenge through the development of renewables. KUWAIT expressed hope that IRENA would help bridge the gap between developed and developing countries by working to enable investment, improve price competitiveness of renewables, and support small-and medium-sized enterprises. SWEDEN said IRENA should work as a link between developing and developed countries.