Closing remarks by Ashok Lavasa, ADB Vice President for Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships, at the Closing Plenary: Collective Action for Low-Carbon and Sustainable Development at the Asia Clean Energy Forum, 18 June 2021

I. Introduction

Thank you for inviting me to offer my remarks in the Closing Plenary of the 16th Asia Clean Energy Forum. Congratulations to all of you in making ACEF 2021 a successful and impactful week as we sharpen our collective efforts for Asia’s low-carbon future and green recovery. 28 sessions covering a wide range of topics and high level of participation by over 3,000 global participants shows the energy and commitment of the growing ACEF community. Let me also compliment all the speakers for bringing out excellent examples of innovative efforts to promote clean energy and sharing their deep insights into what is desirable, what is workable and how we can work together.

A key focus was the discussions on technology roadmaps that would help our member countries achieve their emissions targets under their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). We also tackled integrated solutions to help member countries take a green path in their COVID economic recovery efforts. Moreover, the Forum has given us an opportunity to hold further consultations as part of the ongoing review of ADB’s Energy Policy.

ACEF 2021 has also given us a chance to look into the sub-regions that provide useful lessons for the rest of Asia and the Pacific. Our colleagues from East Asia led the discussions on the efforts to achieve carbon emission peaking and carbon neutrality. We got to see how digitalization is making it possible for countries in South Asia to transform their utilities to smart grids, how managing reserve capacities through efficient systems and trading in Central Asia can support large-scale renewable energy generation, and how the fragile Pacific countries can aim for resilience through transformative approaches. We explored development assistance which is available to our developing member countries in Southeast Asia, and new thematic financing in clean energy sector through our Private Sector Operations.

We’ve also been able to share experiences and lessons learned regarding innovative technologies and business models, de-risking approaches, financing programs, policies and regulations, regional cooperation, and multi-sector and public-private partnerships.

In short, we have a better, updated view of how big and challenging is the task that we now face. And we’ve come to a firmer realization that to speed up the transition of Asia and the Pacific to a low-carbon future, countries in the region must achieve an unprecedented level of collaboration and cooperation. The bigger the challenge, the closer is the collaboration that is required.

II. The shift to clean energy is key

Indeed, we must collaborate and cooperate, because clean energy development in Asia and the Pacific is critical in attaining the goals of several vital global agreements. I am referring first to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, SDG 7, which calls for ensuring universal access to energy services, increasing the share of renewable energy and doubling the rate of energy efficiency. And SDG 13, which calls for taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Clean energy development is also vital to the success of the Paris Agreement. More so today, as COP26 steps up its efforts to unite the entire world in taking more aggressive actions to cut carbon emissions and strive to achieve carbon neutrality.

Clean energy also plays a big role in the region’s pursuit of inclusive, resilient and sustainable development for its people, especially the vulnerable. Clean energy will contribute to each of the 7 Operational Priorities that are mapped out in ADB’s Strategy 2030.

For example, to address remaining poverty and reduce inequalities, clean energy can help in meeting basic needs such as lighting and cooking, providing productive uses of energy to generate income, and creating jobs and developing skills, which can also accelerate gender equality. To make cities more livable, ADB seeks to support the development of energy-efficient buildings, electric vehicles and rooftop solar for households and commercial buildings. To promote rural development and food security, ADB is supporting the use of solar-powered pumps for smart irrigation.

III. The need for collaboration

The scale and complexity of achieving the development and climate goals mean that everybody has to do his share in a massive collaborative effort. National and local governments, private businesses large and small, the academia, non-governmental and community organizations.

It is particularly important to engage and enlist the support of the private sector. Because the private sector must embrace clean energy to make their businesses and their countries’ economies sustainable. And also because the private sector can contribute considerable resources to make the shift to clean energy possible.

As we’ve seen in our discussions in ACEF 2021, ADB is exerting every possible effort to promote collaboration for the clean energy transition within and outside its organization.

ADB has instituted a “One ADB” approach, which seeks to bring together knowledge and expertise across the organization to effectively implement Strategy 2030. ADB is promoting cross-sectoral efforts for integrated solutions, is expanding private sector operations, and is supporting public-private sector partnerships.

ADB has partnerships for knowledge sharing with various organizations. Among its many partners are the Sustainable Energy for All, the International Energy Agency, and the International Renewable Energy Agency.

For clean energy financing, ADB has the Clean Energy Financing Partnership Facility, which comprises bilateral and multilateral trust funds: the Clean Energy Fund, the Asian Clean Energy Fund, the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia, and the Carbon Capture and Storage Fund. Blended financing can leverage limited public and philanthropic funds by unlocking private capital to bridge the financing gap for a green recovery.

ADB is also encouraging regional and inter-regional cooperation for energy. Subregional power trade can help meet energy demand while maximizing scarce natural resources. Regional and sub-regional networks can play a pivotal role in promoting effective energy collaboration among countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Looking further afield, ADB has been collaborating with international financing institutions and multilateral development banks in supporting clean energy development in the region, including, but not limited to, policy-making to create an enabling business environment, piloting of emerging technologies, improving project readiness, and structuring of innovative financing programs.

IV. Closing

To make these collaborative efforts succeed, we must – as our president, Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa said in his welcome remarks – build communities of collaboration in the countries of Asia and the Pacific. I am talking about networks of national and local officials, private entrepreneurs, scientific and technical experts, climate and sustainability advocates and community leaders. People who can orchestrate the work needed to accelerate the energy transition of Asia and the Pacific while continuing to work for sustainable development in the Region.  And to fight climate change, to encourage conservation and a lifestyle that reflects our respect for natural resources.

All of you who participated in this forum make up the core of these communities of collaboration. I thank you and our co-organizers, donors, and partners for contributing towards a successful and productive ACEF 2021. ADB is committed to leading the region out of the pandemic and building back smarter and more sustainably. We look forward to greater regional collaboration as we advance towards carbon neutrality by mid-21st century. We can achieve net-zero only by working together. As Ernest Hemingway said even before the climate change crisis hit us “The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.” I am sure that the communities of collaboration will continue this fight in the future but, let me say that the future is here and the time for action is now.

On that hopeful note of collective resolve, I formally declare that Asia Clean Energy Forum 2021 has concluded.

Thank you. Wish you a pleasant day and a bright and healthy future.

Speaker

  • Lavasa, Ashok
    Lavasa, Ashok
    Vice-President (Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships)