Introductory remarks at Session 10 at Rio+20
19.06.2012 | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  

June 19, 2012, UN Energy Day, Session 10: Financing Actions to Scale up from the Ground, at Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

Introductory remarks of OFID Director-General, Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish, moderator of Financing Actions to Scale up from the Ground.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to OFID’s coordinated session on Financing Actions to Scale up from the Ground.

We have the pleasure of having today on our panel high level representatives from the public sector, the private sector, and civil society

Before I introduce my panelists, I would like to provide some background information for our discussion.

MDGs and Energy

Let me begin by quoting a couple of sentences from the SE4ALL Global Action Agenda:

“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”

“Development is not possible without energy, and sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy.”

All of us here today are aware that, in the year 2000, Energy was not addressed directly by the UN as one of the MDGs. Since 2007, OFID, among other institutions, has advocated for Energy Poverty Alleviation to be given the importance it deserves, for the reasons just quoted from the Global Action Agenda.

Today, within the framework of this significant UN Conference on Sustainable Development, we are pleased to see that the UN, through the SE4ALL initiative, has finally and firmly put this key issue on the table.

The SE4ALL initiative and OFID

It goes without saying that OFID has been totally supportive of the SE4ALL Initiative since it was first proposed. After the initial launch of the High Level Group in New York, OFID hosted SE4ALL’s first technical meeting at its HQ in Vienna.

We commend all the hard work that the UN, its Secretary General, HE Ban Kimoon, and the staff involved have put into this initiative. The same goes for the efforts of the co-chairs, Mr. Yumkella and Mr. Holliday. I feel honored to have been appointed a member of the High Level Group established by the SG to address this important subject. We consider this a recognition of the unwavering effort of OFID in combating poverty in general, and specifically in eradicating energy poverty.

OFID and OFID’s Energy Poverty Initiative

Our mission at OFID is to foster South- South cooperation with other developing countries worldwide with the aim of eradicating poverty in all its forms. Since its inception, OFID has committed more than US$14 billion reaching more than 130 countries.

Since 2007, energy poverty alleviation has gained impetus in OFID. At that time, OFID was mandated by the Heads of States of its Member Countries in the Solemn Declaration of the Third OPEC Summit (The Riyadh Declaration) to sharpen its focus in this area. This mandate was substantiated in 2008 when in Jeddah, the Energy for the Poor Initiative was announced.

Since then, OFID has provided around US$1.2 billion in support of more than 50 energy projects in some 30 countries. Our strong support to Energy Poverty Alleviation was restated by our Ministerial Council five days ago, when our Finance Ministers issued a Declaration in which they committed a minimum of US$1 billion to address energy poverty alleviation. This amount may be scaled up as needed.

OFID’s strategy is to use a variety of mechanisms to meet a diverse range of energy needs. These are: the construction and rehabilitation of energy infrastructure; institution strengthening; funding research; and providing lowcost grassroots solutions.

To achieve our goals, we partner with the public sector, the private sector and civil society.

The panelists:

Mr. Martin Hiller, Director-General of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP). He has over 20 years’ experience in energy issues, with a focus on policy and business engagement. Last year, OFID cooperated with REEEP on a call of proposals that focused on innovative and income generating energy projects in the developing world. The call generated more than 50 proposals worldwide.

Mr. Alban Jacquin, who is in charge of the Sustainable Development Department of Schneider Electric. The company has launched the Business Innovation People at the Base of Pyramid Program, which aims at financing and assisting small and medium-scale enterprises providing energy services in the developing countries. OFID took equity in the program last year.

Mr. Damian Obiglio, a consultant in the field of energy. Prior to his current position, Mr. Obiglio held several high level positions in Jamaica, including CEO of the Jamaican Public Utility Company.

Mr. Pham, Director-General at the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam. OFID has recently cooperated in financing two rural electrification projects in his country.