15 Jan 2012
Ministerial Roundtable on IRENA’s cooperation with the private sector

IRENA’s cooperation with the private sector and the setting up of a Business Council were debated during the second of two Ministerial Roundtables organised as part of the Agency’s Second Assembly.

The roundtable, moderated by Mr. Carlos Pascual, the US State Department’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, began with three presentations: first from Mr. Xabier Viteri, CEO of the Iberdrola Renewable Energy Business, who gave an overview of the state of renewable energy technologies and the challenges facing IRENA; author and President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Mr. Jeremy Rifkin, who described the forthcoming “third industrial revolution” in which changes in communications and energy technology come together to create a new economic paradigm; and Ms Christine Eibs Singer, Managing Director of E+Co, who spoke on the need to remove barriers to financing the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who will play a crucial role in the development and adoption of renewable energy.

The following debate heard the views of Ministers of Energy, government officials, representatives of international energy organisations and lending institutions. They spoke of the need to consider local economies when considering business models; the importance of regulatory and legal frameworks to encourage stability and investor confidence; the need to bring costs down; the importance of facilitating lending to SMEs in developing countries; and the need for IRENA to facilitate the sharing of knowledge experiences and best practices. Above all they stressed the need for action and said Business Council discussions should not be allowed to become another “talking shop”.

Summing up Mr Pascual said that views from the floor showed that it was clear that relationships must be built with the private sector as the successful deployment of renewable energy would depend on its participation; that the renewable energy sector was diverse, decentralised and involved many actors; and that IRENA must examine the relationship between policy and other renewable energy issues in order to establish what were the characteristics of the business environment that would best draw investment to renewable energy. Finally he said that it was clear that although Members were in favour of IRENA establishing a Business Council, they felt a Steering Committee should first be set up before proceeding to a full Advisory Board.

The summary report of the ministerial roundtable is available here

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