Beirut Energy Forum 2012
Beirut Energy Forum 2012
Order of Engineers and Architects
Mr. Robert Watkins
UNDP Resident Representative
Beirut 14 September 2012
(distinguished guests to be added)
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am extremely pleased to be with you here today to help announce an innovative new partnership between the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut and the United Nations Development Programme to promote sustainable, renewable energy in Lebanon.
The timing of this event could hardly be more appropriate, coming in this year of both the Rio+20 Conference, marking two decades since the concept of sustainability was first added to the global development discourse, and the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative, recently adopted by Lebanon, which calls upon governments, businesses and civil society to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.
Encouragingly, awareness and acceptance of the need to mitigate contributions to climate change and address intensifying energy supply challenges in Lebanon has never been higher. In recognition of this, Lebanon made an ambitious pledge several years ago at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to meet at least 12% of its energy supply from renewable resources by 2020. UNDP has been supporting the Ministry of Energy and Water in elaborating a road map to help reach this target, both through its policy leadership via initiatives such as the National Electricity Policy Paper and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, as well as a series of national renewable energy assessments, ranging from the Wind Atlas to hydropower, geothermal and bioenergy assessments.
Yet even the best plans and policies will fall far short without the engine of a ‘green economy’, driven by a robust, engaged private sector. For this reason, stimulating an increase in market growth and leveraging the power of commercial technological change has been a central strategy in our approach. For example, since we began our work with the Ministry, the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation, the European Union and other key partners, the sustainable energy market in Lebanon has moved measurably forward. The private sector has become more engaged in ‘building green’ and reducing energy demand, while the number of local companies supplying energy efficient appliances has more than doubled, resulting in an estimated 40% reduction in the average cost of energy efficient products on the market.
Yet this is far from enough and we cannot afford to lose momentum even for a moment, which makes the Memorandum of Understanding we are signing today with the OEA so vitally important, providing a binding commitment to promote increased demand for solar water heaters among engineers and architects, who play such an influential role in guiding the building market.
By establishing a simple, fast procedure for accessing special low-interest solar water heater loans, we estimate that this partnership will help create demand for around 1,000 solar water heaters among participating engineers, architects and companies, helping further establish a robust market with affordable prices and high quality technologies. The beneficiaries will be supported by UNDP technical teams and provided access to additional facilities offered by the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Central Bank of Lebanon. With the signing of the MOU today, the OEA and UNDP will start immediately the selection of banks and companies that will be eligible to participate in this initiative.
But I hope that this will be just the first chapter in our partnership with the OEA as there are so many more possibilities and needs in this country in terms of renewable energy. Just today, in other sessions at this Forum, we’ve heard about the importance of integrating energy sustainability into national building codes, presenting another area of potential collaboration with OEA, which, I should add, builds on work UNDP began in 2005 with the introduction of voluntary thermal standards for buildings.
In conclusion, let me express our sincere thanks to the President of the Order of Engineers and Architects in Beirut, Mr. Elie Bsaibes, whose leadership has undoubtedly set an example for other orders and syndicates to follow. We look forward to our continued partnership for a robust ‘green’ energy sector and a better environment for all Lebanese.