x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Sheikha Lubna's speech at the Irena meeting

Following is the full text of the speech by the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, at the second preparatory meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh. In the speech, Sheikha Lubna made a strong case for the UAE to host the headquarters of Irena at Masdar City. Sheikha Lubna's speech: It gives me great pleasure to see all of you here today and to be part of this historic conference ... and to see so many united in the idea of a future built on the foundations of renewable, sustainable and clean energy. This day marks a new era in which all countries, developed and developing, will begin our work together, under the rubric of the International Renewable Energy Agency. We have important issues to address in this conference, including the location of Irena's new headquarters and the selection of the agency's first director general. However, a far greater task awaits us as we jointly commit ourselves to transforming Irena from an abstract idea to a tangible reality. To accomplish this task, we need to develop a shared vision of what Irena will represent and how we can support it in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. And it is in that spirit that I would like to share a UAE perspective on both of these points. Statistics clearly demonstrate that access to energy is a powerful indicator of human development, and that without such access, large portions of the world's population will remain vulnerable to poverty and sickness. However, statistics also clearly show that traditional forms of energy are unsustainable and will ultimately lead to global crisis.Without energy our societies face chaos and uncertainty. With finite energy, we face the threat of resource depletion, environmental deterioration, and devastating climate change. We are all here today because we share the belief that a global commitment to developing and deploying renewable energy resources will help us satisfy the urgent need for more energy and the parallel and equally urgent need to eliminate the negative consequences of traditional forms of energy production and consumption. Drawing from that shared belief, the UAE believes that Irena must support the idea of abundance and universal accessibility of energy resources. In other words, Irena must work to ensure that renewable energy no longer remains a luxury or a privilege available only to the wealthiest nations and individuals, but is developed as a practical solution that is available to all. As such, Irena should not become a conduit of costly technology sales. No one country has a monopoly on renewable technology - and all countries share the right to harness it. Of equal importance, Irena must, as a priority, seek to serve those countries that need it most. We must ensure that developing countries that lack domestic resources or capabilities to undertake costly research and investment in the development of renewable technologies are offered opportunities through Irena to participate on an equal footing in the transformation of the global energy sector. In a world of globalised trade, globalised ideas, and globalised cultures, our most pressing problems have also become shared ones. And the solutions to those problems will logically also require contributions from all quarters. Hence, the UAE strongly believes that Irena should represent a forum for an open and honest exchange of ideas between all countries on how we can work together to solve these common challenges. Given the gravity of the problem we seek to solve, Irena cannot afford to be exclusionary in either the geographic, political or intellectual sense of the word. For example, I am proud that my country - as both an oil producing nation and a developing nation - has stood firmly behind the Irena initiative from the outset and has demonstrated its commitment to taking a lead in this initiative by adopting a seven per cent renewable energy target by 2020. It is in part this belief in the universality of Irena that led to the UAE's decision to seek to support Irena through hosting its head quarters. However, I wish to stress that, whatever the outcome of today vote, the UAE will continue to play a committed and active role in the work of Irena. Our vision has from the outset consisted of an Irena that ensures all voices from all over the world are not just heard, but listened to. That the concerns of the small, the poor, or the developing, are given equal consideration with those of the big, or the rich or the developed, and that ideas and expertise that benefit one, are harnessed to the benefit of all. No country can be left behind as we move towards a future built on renewable energy. Looking beyond political borders, I would note that the UAE's vision of inclusiveness also depends heavily upon robust partnerships with the private sector, which has as much of a vested interest in a renewable energy future as any government, and must play a crucial role in Irena's success. Of course, co-operation across so many lines is always challenging, and history is full of examples of failed multilateral initiatives. As such, and in order to ensure success in this endeavour, the UAE believes that Irena should be focused exclusively on renewable energy and should not become a forum for unrelated political debates or agendas. The crucial measure of whether Irena will succeed as an agency or not will be our ability to transform ideas into reality by equipping Irena with the leadership, the financial resources, the infrastructure and the political will for it to succeed. As many of you are aware, the UAE has offered significant support to Irena, including the hosting of the Irena headquarters in the zero carbon city being constructed as part of the Masdar initiative. In addition to our pledges of financial and logistical support, we believe that the UAE's healthy economy and modern infrastructure will help sustain this new organisation. Nevertheless, it should also be clear that the success of IRENA will hinge upon broad support from all members, and as such, I would encourage each member state to think deeply about what it can bring to Irena in terms of resources, expertise and enthusiasm and to seek ways to make those available. Ultimately, the success of Irena will be measured by the commitment of each and every member country, on our power to persuade and unite. Four months ago, there were 75 signatories of Irena. Today that base is much larger as we have all reached out and campaigned for Irena and for its mandate - and countries are responding by the dozens. I call on you today to vote for an Irena that embodies our globalised world and that celebrates our differences as well as our commonalties. Let Irena be an agency of difference and of change. Let Irena represent the convergence of an unprecedented North-South partnership and a new impetus for the countries that it seeks to serve by being located in the heart of its development. Our futures rest with one another and this is both a responsibility and an entrustment which we cannot afford to fail. Thank you once more. * WAM