From Ban Ki-moon and Wen Jiabao through to 4,000 promising students, the decision-makers of today and tomorrow are coming together this week at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi. The four-day meeting, which begins today at Adnec, is the fifth such annual conference on this fast-developing subject of pressing global interest.
Last year's WFES brought together some 200 eminent speakers, 3,150 high-level delegates and 600 exhibitors, from 112 countries.
This year, in addition to the secretary general of the United Nations and the Chinese premier, the principal WFES speakers will include South Korea's prime minister and cabinet-level officials from several countries.
Also taking part will be numerous other prominent political leaders, senior government officials, corporate executives, academics, bankers, managers and scientists drawn from many countries and international agencies. Exhibitors will showcase new products and Adnec will be full of ideas.
It is clear this year's meeting will be true to the intentions of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who launched the WFES in 2008 with the goal of bringing together decision-makers, thought leaders and industry experts to discuss timely and relevant topics aimed towards promoting innovation and the development of this emerging field of industry.
WFES has continued to expand, attracting global leaders and ensuring that it is at the forefront of discussion on the global energy mix. This year's theme - "Powering Sustainable Innovation" - provides an unrivalled platform for open dialogue.
Mr Ban, attending for the second year in a row, will utilise the WFES platform to launch the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Mr Wen will provide first-hand insight into China's cutting-edge economic strategy and vision for adopting clean technologies and renewable energy. And Kim Hwang-sik, the prime minister of South Korea, will expand on his country's plans to increase consumption of renewable energy.
In addition to the distinguished participants and established experts, WFES also serves to inspire the next generation of leaders - once again welcoming students to explore issues, engage in conversation and learn about cutting-edge technologies. Some 4,000 students are expected to take part in this year's event; organisers hope that their participation will encourage their creativity in addressing energy issues.
This year's programme also includes an innovation centre to provide entrepreneurs and financiers a platform to discuss new technologies and explore partnership opportunities in areas such as photovoltaic panels, wind energy, resource management, water conservation, LED lighting, electric vehicles and energy storage. And WFES 2012 also features a "project village" where over 40 projects from the Middle East, India and North Africa will present their visions and strategies to create a diverse energy mix for sustainable development.
At the inaugural WFES in 2008, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Now one of the world's most prestigious prizes, it encourages creativity and innovation in renewable energy, clean technology, and sustainable development.
It has grown year on year and now for the first time prizes will be awarded in three categories: to recognise the accomplishments of large corporations, to acknowledge the lifetime achievement of individuals, and to reward and encourage small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for their contributions to innovating the field of renewable energy and sustainability.
Candidates for the three Zayed Future Energy Prizes have undergone a four-tiered evaluation process, and the names of the winners of the 2012 awards will be announced on Tuesday of this week, on the sidelines of the Summit activities.
This year, as the Summit reaches a five-year milestone, participants will be reflecting on the path taken, our successes and most importantly the lessons we have learnt, and the fruits of these reflections will guide organisers as the WFES continues in future years.
With the 40th anniversary of the founding of the UAE so fresh in our minds, we should also consider WFES in terms of the vision of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE. The Summit provides a platform for this country to build bridges with like-minded nations, facilitate the transfer of knowledge and drive sustainable development, both in the UAE and globally. So far, we have achieved much, and there is no limit to what we can achieve in the future.
Masdar is proud to be once again host for this meeting. Our unique position means that we are able to leverage our expertise in a way that fosters collaboration, diversifies the UAE's energy mix, prolongs the span of natural resources and ensures persistent economic growth for future generations.
Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the chief executive of Masdar