Address delivered at the Vienna Energy Forum 2018

14.05.2018 | Vienna, Austria 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the lunch hosted by OFID on the occasion of the VEF 2018.

This lunch has become a recurring event in our calendar. Perhaps this has to do with fact that food is one of the three elements of the water-energy-food nexus which is the central theme of OFID’s Corporate Plan. But I am certain that it is due to the kind gesture of my dear friend Mr. LI Yong, Director-General of UNIDO, who always makes sure that I get the opportunity to host such distinguished personalities.

So, thank you, Mr. LI, for this, and thank you again for demonstrating once more the enduring relationship between our two organizations by chairing the opening session and speaking at our recent “OFID Symposium on Electricity Storage”.

OFID and UNIDO share a common desire to end energy poverty.We have been very active in the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) since its inception as a forum for debating the complex developmental challenges viewed from the perspective of sustainable energy, and we are proud of our joint efforts and the success we have shared in the inclusion of energy access in the Sustainable Development Goals. There are many other examples of the way our two organizations’ actions on the ground neatly complement each other. Namely, OFID has granted funds to ECREEE to build mini-grids in four western African countries and OFID also directly supports other important aspects of UNIDO’s work, with grants for ongoing projects in the agri-food sector in Ethiopia and the fisheries value chain in Latin America.

As you know, alleviating energy poverty has been a focus area for our operations. I will elaborate on this in a little while, but let me now go back to the “OFID Symposium on Electricity Storage”. This is one more concrete example of the fact that, today, OFID is more than a lending institution. I am proud to assert that OFID has become a player in expanding the knowledge in issues related to global development and tomorrow’s world. 

For example, the Symposium concluded that we are on the verge of an energy transition. We now live in what might be called the 3D World of electrical systems. That is the world of Decarbonisation, Digitization and Decentralization. 

In each of three areas, energy storage is of critical importance, and we understand that this signals an energy future far different than what people are used to. But we also know that it can ensure that the energy-poor get their electricity needs. That must also be a part of the energy future: Universal access to energy. 

From OFID’s point of view, it is this energy poverty alleviation aspect that makes imperative the development of practical and cost-effective electricity storage technologies. In fact, 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of our Energy for the Poor Initiative, funded through a revolving endowment of US$1bn pledged by our Ministerial Council in June 2012. This commitment originates from a mandate from the heads of state of our Member Countries in 2007. Since then, we remain committed to ensuring modern energy universally available to all.

To this end, we have been using all resources at our disposal. Since the last VEF a year ago, OFID has committed around US$500 million to energy operations, representing around 25% of the total value of our commitments for the period. This amount leverages 28 operations worldwide, with a total value of around US$2.8bn.

Our efforts of course were not limited to this past year but extend way back to 2008. And since then we have been able to delineate the strong inter-linkages between energy and virtually every aspect of sustainable development. In particular we have become acutely aware that besides energy, securing increasing supplies of water and food including the agro chain is required to sustain a growing population. 

Over the past four decades, OFID has co-financed countless projects in these three sectors in 120 countries. This experience has taught us that energy, water, and food are intimately and complexly linked, and that uncoordinated interventions in one sector can inadvertently create unintended consequences in another.

It thus became evident to OFID that for energy access to be sustainable, it has to be related to the food and water dimensions. The “silo thinking” of the past is no longer an option; there is a need for a new paradigm that views development interventions in a holistic approach. Here, I invite you to read issue 41 in our Pamphlet Series, titled “The energy-water-food nexus: Managing key resources for sustainable development”.  

With this in mind, OFID has adopted the Water-Energy-Food Nexus as the central theme of our Corporate Plan 2016-2025. Based on this Plan, 70% of our activities in the current decade will be dedicated to these sectors, with transportation as an enabling sector

Thank you.