Representatives from across the world will participate in the 19th and 20th Council of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) this week, amid a backdrop of renewed calls from the Agency to build the post-Covid economic recovery around the energy transformation. Burkina Faso Energy Minister Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, will serve as Chair for the two-day governing body meetings.
The back to back meetings of the Council will take place virtually due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and will see more than 340 high-level participants from 97 countries and the European Union engage in discussions about the growing importance of policies and investments that support an accelerated move towards a low-carbon energy system. IRENA findings suggest doing so would add more than 5 million energy transition jobs globally in the next three years.
“We meet at unprecedented times,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. “With many economies going back into lock-down measures to address COVID-19, we must all be aware of the opportunity for growth and stability presented by a renewables based energy transformation” – a point that will be central to discussions among members this week.
“Through clear, far-sighted policy measures built around energy transformation and a strong commitment to multilateral collaboration, we can quickly rebuild our economies,” continued Mr. La Camera, “while ensuring a lasting economic recovery that aligns with the sustainable development goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”
IRENA’s ‘Post-COVID recovery: An agenda for resilience, development and equality’, launched earlier this year, shows that the energy transition can represent a far-sighted investment when incorporated into stimulus and recovery plans. An investment package focused on the energy transition can help to overcome the economic slump and create much-needed jobs, for the short-term and beyond.
Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The 19th and 20th meetings of the IRENA Council couldn’t be more timely. The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the vital importance of energy as the key to staying connected to power healthcare facilities, and ensure an uninterrupted food and water production and supply. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that we join forces in advancing a green and sustainable recovery, building resilience, and driving a global clean energy transition to provide fair energy access for all.”
“Burkina Faso’s progress in recent years to address energy access and encourage increased economic activity through electrification, has been remarkable,” said Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso Energy Minister. “We have doubled the number of people with access to energy in the last five years, while reducing electricity costs and reducing state subsidies thanks to renewable energy.
“Our story is just one example of the momentum around the world for the energy transformation because it delivers sound socio-economic benefits,” continued Minister Ouedraogo. “With the help of multilateral cooperation and institutions such as IRENA, I believe the encouraging progress being made so far can be further accelerated, and I personally think that there is a concrete need to establish a vision-building forum where IRENA members can discuss their collective energy transition aspiration.”
In preparation for this year’s meetings of the Council, IRENA received comments from Members regarding the Agency’s programmatic activities. Discussions, that took place on the 19th and 21st of October, explored how IRENA can most effectively provide its Members with project facilitation support, research, modelling, analytical work and policy advice.
Leading up to the Council, IRENA also held a series of Collaborative Framework meetings, designed to foster dialogue and coordinated action between Members on key issues such as the development of hydropower, strategies to support high shares of renewables, the future of the renewable hydrogen economy, ocean and offshore renewables and the geopolitics of the energy transformation.
The conclusions and outcomes from the Programmatic Discussions and the Collaborative Frameworks will be reported back to Members of the Council along with a way forward. During the Council meetings, IRENA Members will also discuss the Agency’s future work as part of IRENA’s Work Programme and Budget.
The IRENA Council is composed of 21 Members elected for a two-year term and serve on a rotating basis to ensure the effective participation of both developing and developed countries and a fair and equitable geographical distribution. The Council’s responsibilities include facilitating consultation and cooperation among IRENA Members and reviewing the organisation’s work programme, budget and annual report.