World plugs-in to new renewables agency

Renewable energy was given a boost with the opening of the first General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which opened in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The two-day meeting with 800 delegates from 150 countries confirmed in its first session that Abu Dhabi would host the new intergovernmental organization that will advocate for renewable energy worldwide.

Established two years ago, IRENA is backed by both the developed and developing world as a key new catalyst towards the expansion of renewable energy.

Abu Dhabi will now be IRENA’s HQ: The city prides itself on sustainable urban development and has been at the forefront of renewable energy events and initiatives. It hosts the World Future Energy Summit and the Zayed Future Energy Prize for distinguished achievements in the areas of renewable energy and sustainability.

The desert city is also the home of the Masdar initiative, an international center launched five years ago to develop new clean technology and renewable energy in and beyond the urban environment while raising awareness in the private sector and in academia on the solutions renewable energy offers.

“UNEP looks forward to working in close partnership with IRENA in mainstreaming renewable energy worldwide. This is a key sector of UNEP’s Green Economy work and both agency are natural allies in accelerating a transition at the national and global level in order to meet the multiple goals of sustainable development, poverty eradication, green growth and decent job generation,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP’s Green Economy work, which is an echo to many of IRENA’s objectives puts environmental sustainability as one of the prerequisites for evolving economies that meet the needs and aspirations of six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050.

According to its Green Economy report released in February, by investing two per cent of global GDP in ten key sectors, the world can kick-start a transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. And investing about one and a quarter per cent of global GDP each year in energy efficiency and renewable energies, energy demand worldwide would drop by nine per cent in 2020 and nearly 40 per cent by 2050.

The meeting also voted in Adnan Amin as IRENA’s first director general. A Kenyan national, Mr. Amin, who was UNEP’s representative in the UN Headquarters, and will run IRENA for the next four years.

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