Opening Remarks at the International Solar Alliance Event at Vibrant Gujarat Summit

Your Excellency Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation, India
Your Excellency Mr. Saurabhbhai Patel, Energy Minister, Government of Gujarat,
Mr. T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary for Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India,
Mr. Upendra Tripathy, Director General, International Solar Alliance,
Ministers and representatives of International Solar Alliance member States,
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be with you at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Forum. I bring to you greetings from the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres, who attended the first meeting of the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance in October 2018. The Secretary-General welcomes this important initiative spearheaded by India and France, which are also founding members of UN-ESCAP since March 1947.

At the outset, I wish to commend the Government of India under the leadership of the Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi for co-launching the International Solar Alliance at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. India has a major role to play. Its experience gives us a historical opportunity to shape best practices in solar energy for our region and reduce carbon emissions.

In Asia and the Pacific, the countries are undergoing significant changes due to its economic dynamism, energy consumption and fuel mix. As economic opportunities expand, along with increasing rates of urban development and diversified economic sector, it impacts patterns and intensity of energy consumption.

Currently, the Asia-Pacific regional growth of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion stands at more than double the world level, and carbon intensity of energy increased by 7.5 per cent for the region, compared to the 11.8 per cent globally, over the past twenty-five years.

With this current background, let me highlight three key challenges for the region:

  1. Climate change, pollution, resource depletion and environmental concerns are driving a shift to more sustainable forms of energy. Our continued future on the planet depends on our ability to decarbonize our economies significantly by the end of the century. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects the pivotal role of energy in sustainable development through SDG 7, which focuses on to ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’.
  2. Solar energy will play a major part in contributing to these objectives. It is a key opportunity we must seize – for low carbon development, energy security and extreme poverty alleviation by 2030. Solar power holds great promise to bring clean and emissions-free energy. The developing countries of Asia and the Pacific are located in the “sunbelt” with abundant solar energy resources. India’s leadership has captured this potential in its ambition for “one world, one sun, one grid”.
  3. There is a recognition of the transformative potential of solar energy in realizing SDG 7. It can boost the renewable energy share in our power mix, increase energy efficiency by offsetting the use of inefficient power generation technologies and bring electricity to remote parts of the region, in synchronization with the development of the economy.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Today, let me take this opportunity by outlining for your consideration two specific matters in which the International Solar Alliance framework can be further positioned as a key intergovernmental solution on accelerating the achievement of SDG 7.

Firstly, I welcome the continued engagement of the International Solar Alliance maximizing the potential of Sunbelt countries to tap into this energy source of the future. However, nurturing a national solar industry is complex, involving financing, policy frameworks, technology, skills and planning. I hope that the International Solar Alliance, by increasing access to solar finance, lowering the cost of technology and building the solar skills of administrators, engineers and planners, can play a strong supporting role in realizing the welfare benefits of solar energy for our economies.

Secondly, I also recognize the importance of the International Solar Alliance, as an intergovernmental platform, in strengthening the value of multilateralism in addressing emerging challenges. UN-ESCAP, through its regional intergovernmental platform, is also working to advance progress on SDG 7 through our policy-oriented analytical work and through fostering result-based dialogue and regional cooperation. We also work with our 53 member and 9 associate members maximize the potential to adopt sustainable energy through technical assistance and capacity building. I am confident that the Vibrant Gujarat 2019 Global Summit can pave the way forward on shaping a new partnership between our organizations.

In conclusion, at UN-ESCAP, we are focused on supporting our member States to leverage regional energy connectivity for the achievement of the SDGs by successful sharing policy experiences and technical knowledge.

Together, with our common 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must seize the opportunity to foster regional cooperation to ensure sustained level of progress, prosperity and peace for all.

Thank you for your attention.