Asia Clean Energy Forum 2020 - Bambang Susantono

Speech | 16 June 2020

Introductory remarks at opening session by Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, ADB at the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2020, 16 June 2020

I. Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow colleagues in the clean energy sector, welcome to the 15th Asia Clean Energy Forum!

I am proud and honored to open the Forum once again. This is not just because we are marking its 15th year in 2020 but because we have shown that not even a pandemic can stop us in the journey towards a low carbon transition to meet sustainable development and climate goals.

In 2006, when the very first ACEF was held at the ADB headquarters, there were less than 100 participants. Over these years, ACEF has become one of Asia’s leading clean energy events with over 4000 registered participants this year.

By holding ACEF in a virtual format we are able to continue the tradition of connecting diverse stakeholders from across Asia and the globe. We are able to share knowledge and highlight ADB’s innovative projects to scale up clean energy investment in the region. – working together to tackle climate change, build climate and disaster resilience and enhance environmental sustainability.

II. COVID-19 impact and energy sector response

As the world is mobilized to fight COVID-19 pandemic, at ACEF this year the energy sector response to this crisis will be a key focus.

We have seen CO2 emissions falling as lockdowns have greatly reduced economic activity. However, it is important for us to understand this would most likely be a temporary situation.  We must not lose sight of the fact that climate change is still the pervasive and long-term challenge of our time. In fact, we should take the opportunity of the many changes triggered by the crisis like working remotely, reducing commuting, and using videconferencing for events to permanently increase energy efficiency and cut emissions.

At ACEF we will discuss ways by which the clean energy sector can help address the challenges of the pandemic and support the reopening of economies in our developing member countries. We will share views on these aspects and use them to develop guidance on how to use energy sector investments in COVID-19 recovery pathways.  As part of this we will also soon launch a regional technical assistance for disease resilient and energy-efficient centralized air conditioning systems in public buildings.

Beyond the energy sector, ADB is increasingly engaging in multisectoral work involving health, transport, water, urban and other sectors to better support operational priorities of ADB’s Strategy 2030. Cross-sectoral innovation is the main theme of this year’s ACEF.

III. Points for the panel discussion

At this opening session, we will hear from ADB’s President Masatsugu Asakawa, the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director Fatih Birol as well as a distinguished panel to discuss all of the above-mentioned key issues. To start this discussion I would like to raise three points of consideration for our panelists and for reflection by participants over the course of this week.

First, the pandemic has demonstrated to us the essential need for energy supply,  whether to support health services or enable people to work from home.  But as the skies cleared during the lock down, it also showed us the impact that our “normal life” had on the air we breathe. Can we use the experience of cleaner air during these past months to mobilize increased support for clean air and climate change mitigation efforts?

Second, under ADB’s Strategy 2030 we will expand our vision to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. These last few months have demonstrated the need for increased resilience in energy markets and energy delivery systems.  I would like to hear views on how we can become more resilient and better prepare for the next crisis - whether this comes from weather, market volatility or even another pandemic.

Third, the pandemic has once more underscored the importance of supporting vulnerable populations in our region. A major part of this support is providing access to energy – in all its forms – for electricity, clean cooking, heating, and cooling. In this context, how can the most vulnerable be best supported through energy related stimulus that will support COVID-19 recovery?

IV. Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen,

While the questions I pose are difficult because they are complex, pervasive and include financial, cultural and technical matters, I believe that we – as energy and development professionals - are able to and must work urgently to find the needed solutions. I look forward to hearing the productive discussions at ACEF so that we can learn together.

Thank you all for your participation and engagement. Once again welcome to the 2020 Asia Clean Energy Forum!