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Energy for sustainable development discussed at international forum

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, September 18
The 4th International Forum: Energy for Sustainable Development, took a start at the Sheraton Metechi Palace in the Georgian capital on September 17. The three-day forum brought together over 200 delegates from more than 25 countries including the Caucasus, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, Central, Northern, and South-Eastern Asia.

The Forum was organized jointly by the Government of Georgia, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In his opening speech, Vice Prime Minister of Georgia and Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, said Georgia has applied for the full membership of the Energy Union, which means that in future years, Georgian legislation and normative database will approach the European legislation step-by-step.

Stressing the importance of sustainable development, Kaladze said that today government officials have to make decisions with long-term results aimed at ensuring the welfare of the future generations. “The strength of the energy sector and its development in the right direction is the basis for the normal functioning of the country's economy and public development,” said the minister.

Stressing that Georgia is rich with its renewed energy, especially hydro resources, Kaladze said implementation of hydro projects is becoming timelier. However, he said the international experience of using relevant environment protection standards and minimizing the affect on the social environment is also available.

Expressing the readiness to cooperate with the interested sides and share the international experience, Kaladze said the ministry is also ready to make the necessary legislative changes.

First Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Dimitri Kumsishvili, spoke of the importance of implementing the policy of energy efficiency which considers the decrease in the negative effects on the environment, the increase of energy security, together with the socio-economic development of the country.

Emphasizing the importance of hosting such forums for Georgia, Kumsishvili said energy efficiency and sustainable development are among the important issues in the modern world. He said various steps have been made in this direction in the country from training courses and seminars to campaigns for raising social awareness.

This forum is a follow-up to the International Sustainable Energy Forums held in 2010-2012 in Central Asian countries. It supports the objectives of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Andrey Vasilyev, said each year the participants build on success “as lessons learned during the past years.”

Acting Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia, Inita Paulovica, welcomed the first forum of sustainable energy in this region. “Sustainable energy in Georgia is the basis for economic growth. And also when we are talking about sustainable energy, it is important to talk about energy efficiency – how efficient energy is used,” Paulovica said, stressing the importance of the forum as an opportunity for sharing various expert opinions and also “promoting green and sustainable energy.”

In her speech Paulovica highlighted “Georgia’s huge potential in natural resources and excellent prospects in investment in both renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Plenary sessions on Achieving Sustainable Energy Development through Policy Reforms and International Cooperation; Energy Efficiency in the Housing Sector; and Investments in Energy Eciency and Cleaner Energy Projects in the Context of Climate Change Mitigation and Sustainable Development, took place on Tuesday with the participation of various policy makers and experts in the field of energy efficiency and the sustainable use of energy, as well as in the fields of economic and social development, environmental protection, governance, financing, and energy and utility infrastructure development.

Workshops on Policies and Legislation to Promote Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Technologies in the Caucasus Region; A Road Map to Energy Ecient Residential Sector; Case Studies on Policy Reforms to Promote Financing Energy Efficiency Investments and Advanced Energy Efficiency Technologies and Sustainable Energy Challenges and Opportunities in Transition Countries are on the agenda for the second working day.

The forum will explore the policies and legislation needed to support energy efficiency improvements, access to cleaner energy, financing energy efficiency, and energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure. Forum participants will discuss the necessary conditions for enabling and encouraging investments in energy efficiency and the sustainable use of energy as well as look at the environmental benefits of wider applications of energy efficiency and cleaner energy.

On the closing day of the forum the participants will issue a joint statement on the critical role that international cooperation can play in promoting energy for sustainable development.