Vienna Energy Forum can help provide practical solutions to complex developmental challenges, says OFID Director-General

17.05.2017 | E15/2017  

OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish.

Vienna, Austria, May 17, 2017. OFID has partnered with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for the fifth Vienna Energy Forum (VEF). This year’s event focused on ‘Sustainable energy for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement’. Speakers highlighted the vital linkages between energy, climate and development as well as synergies among the SDGs, and the importance of joint and integrated approaches.

In his comments during a high-level lunch hosted by OFID, Director-General Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish said: “We are convinced of the strategic value of the VEF as a global multi-stakeholder forum for debate on practical solutions to the complex developmental challenges viewed from the perspective of sustainable energy. One great achievement of the VEF is that the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative was born here, in the debates and discussions of the VEF, and that the forum has been a major contributor to the design of the initiative’s goals.”

Al-Herbish reminded guests that Energy Poverty Alleviation is a cause that OFID has championed since receiving a special mandate from the Third OPEC Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November 2007. Working with like-minded partners, including the UN SEforALL initiative, OFID was instrumental in securing an explicit goal for energy in Agenda 2030.

Al-Herbish also thanked LI Yong, Director-General of UNIDO, for his comments in the Foreword of OFID’s newly-published book of statements entitled ‘Uniting against poverty: OFID’s Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish and the fight for sustainable development.’ LI Yong wrote: “Our alliance was forged in our common desire to end energy poverty and it has been strengthened by the common conviction that access to modern energy services is a vital precondition to achieving sustainable development, including the industrialization of developing countries.”

Faris Hasan, Director of Strategic Planning and Economic Services at OFID, was one of this year’s keynote speakers. During the second high-level plenary session on ‘The Energy, Food Security, Land, Water, and Health Nexus’, Hasan discussed the active role OFID has played in funding solutions. He also emphasized the importance of partnerships for addressing interrelated nexus issues. OFID has adopted the energy-water-food nexus as the central theme of its 2016-2025 Corporate Plan. Based on this plan, 70 percent of the organization’s activities in the coming decade will be dedicated to these critical sectors, with transportation as an additional enabling sector.

Some 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries gathered for the event at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace. They were welcomed by Michael Linhart, Deputy Foreign Minister of Austria, who said: “It gives me great pleasure that this forum has been set up in Vienna, once more underlining the city’s and Austria’s position as an influential international hub, also for the discussion of wide-ranging energy and energy-related issues.”

This year’s event marked the first time the forum has been held since ‘affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’ was recognized as a stand-alone goal under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 2017 also marks the tenth anniversary of the Riyadh declaration, which called upon OFID to intensify and align its efforts to eradicate energy poverty in the developing world.