Opening Remarks on Renewable Energy in Central Asia

Opening remarks by Makoto Ojiro, Country Director of ADB's Tajikistan Resident Mission, at the meeting on Renewable Energy in Central Asia: Creating Economic Sustainability to Solve Socioeconomic Challenges, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Dear Mr. Chairman and distinguished participants of the conference from abroad and Tajikistan, on behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to welcome you all to this meeting on renewable energy in Central Asia. I am very pleased that ADB is co-sponsoring this important conference to discuss the renewable energy issue in the context of addressing climate change as it is something that we are all concerned about. I believe Tajikistan is one of the most severely affected countries in the region by the climate change primarily because of the impact of the melting of the glaciers. So, the venue of this conference is definitely very appropriate.

What are the key impacts of the climate change, or global warming in Tajikistan? Well, one can imagine what is going to happen if glaciers start to melt. While there will be an increase in water flows in the medium term, the country in the longer term will need to be ready to adapt to reduced water flows and their impact on water supply, energy generation, and agriculture. So, we all need to think about how we might address these long term impacts of the climate change in Central Asia, and Tajikistan in particular.

Now, the Asian Development Bank has been supporting the development of Central Asia, and Tajikistan in particular, since it joined us in 1998. ADB has so far provided about $570 million worth of an economic program in Tajikistan covering various sectors, including the energy sector. The most recent energy projects are the Nurek Hydro Switchyard Reconstruction Project, approved last year for $55 million grant, and the Regional Power Transmission Interconnection Project, approved three years ago for $22 million. Both of these projects are well underway and the latter project will enable an export of summer surplus electricity to Afghanistan from Santuda Hydropower Plant I sometime next year.

With respect to renewable energy, the ADB accords high priority in its long term strategy called Strategy 2020, which establishes its strategic direction to the year 2020. This is in the context of both infrastructure development and environment as core operational areas for all development member countries, and that includes Tajikistan. In addition, ADB issued a new energy policy earlier this year, whose objective is to provide reliable, adequate, and affordable energy in socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable way. And the policy emphasizes, among other things, energy efficiency and renewable energy. So, you can see that renewable energy is very much high on ADB's policy agenda in the region.

Now, how are these corporate long term strategy and energy policy, both of which emphasize renewable energy, translated into operations on the ground? Well, I am very pleased to inform you that renewable energy as stressed in these ADB's strategic documents is incorporated in our new Tajikistan Country Partnership Strategy: 2010-2014, which will soon be finalized. This report accords high priority to renewable energy in the context of climate change response, and it envisages operational focus in the energy sector. In addition, ADB along with other key donors, altogether 12, recently developed a Tajikistan Joint Country Partnership Strategy: 2010-2012, which also talks about the need to develop alternative and renewable energy sources. This aspect will further be elaborated in the forthcoming Poverty Reduction Strategy 3, which is being prepared by the Government with donor assistance.

Let me briefly touch on ADB's ongoing Regional Technical Assistance for Enabling Climate Change Interventions in Central and West Asia. This project was approved earlier in April with $5 million grant for 10 countries in this region with the overall impact of achieving low-carbon inclusive growth and climate resilient development. The expected outcome will be a favorable policy, technological, and fiscal environment for investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation interventions. It is expected to foster new investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, and adaptation measures. Under this project, a recipient government can put forward a suitable project proposal for external financing. The work has just started, and I hope to see some tangible results soon.

The other initiative is that ADB is a key player along with other international financial institutions for a Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR). This is a multi-donor trust fund created this year as part of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). It is designed to provide incentives for scaled up action and transformational change in integrating climate resilience in national development planning consistent with poverty reduction and sustainable development goals. It provides additional financial resources to help fund public and private sector investments identified in climate resilient development plans. This Pilot Program fund is $500 million, and the overall Climate Investment Fund is about $6 billion.

What is exciting about this Pilot Program is that Tajikistan along with other 10 countries in the world was selected to participate in it by an international expert team to receive about $50-$60 million to address the climate change impact. The ADB and other institutions have had two rounds of discussions here in Dushanbe with the Government of Tajikistan, and I hope that we can work together to develop much needed renewable energy sources as part of this program.

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to once again welcome you all to the International Conference on Renewable Energy in Central Asia. I wish you all a productive meeting and look forward to a specific course of action to take us to the next step.