Tuesday 19, January 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Today the Zayed Future Energy Prize hosted a top-level discussion on ensuring energy innovations are at the heart of empowering victims of climate change. The debate was convened as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and focused on one of the core issues to come out of the COP21 global climate agreement; how to ensure the effects of climate change that are already taking place are mitigated for the most at risk communities across the globe.
The panel debate included a keynote speech by Dr. Han Seung–Soo, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water and Former Prime Minister of South Korea, a presentation by Dikirani Thaulo, Teacher-trainee at the Zayed Solar Academy in Malawi and panellists, Noaman Al Adhami, Senior Director Business Development at Vestas Wind Systems, Ami Valdemoro, COO of Liter of Light; Caesar Mwangi, CEO of SunnyMoney; and Ewa Wojkowska, Co-Founder and COO of Kopernik.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Han Seung-Soo, offered his thoughts on the panel: “There can be no doubt that the world is seeing the effects of climate change. This is why a global agreement at COP21 was an absolutely necessity. To this end it is important that we are empowering those most at risk through energy innovations. These innovations can take many forms and it is heartening that the Zayed Future Energy Prize is leading the way in recognising and giving a platform for pioneers in this field.”
In addition to the negative consequences of a warming planet, upwards of 1.3 billion people across the globe currently lack access to affordable and reliable electricity – with dramatic consequences for human health, education, and economic wellbeing. Experts believe that to eradicate poverty in a world experiencing more frequent climate-related disasters such as stronger hurricanes and severe heat waves, there is a need to put in place the safety nets that can keep poverty at bay while also cutting emissions. This requires robust and sustainable energy innovations.
Moderator of the panel, Michael Liebreich, Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “One of the most impressive things about the prize is that there are so many winners and past finalists that are on the front-lines of climate action, innovating and helping to re-shape communities for the better. They are not just creating new technologies, but innovating right across the value chain, creating new business models too. That is particularly important in places where there are problems of energy access and water scarcity, where very often the technologies already exist, but it takes a special type of ingenuity and perseverance to get them into people’s hands at scale.”
The complexity of climate change means that there are no easy answers. With the COP21 agreement and the signing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN General Assembly in September, the international community has recognised that urgent action is needed. This underlines the foresight shown by the UAE leadership in establishing the prize to support efforts on these issues.
Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, added: “One of the most important aspect of the global discussion on climate change has been the need for mitigation and adaptation to our changing environment that is already taken place. There are communities today where these negative changes is an everyday reality and it is only through energy innovation that they have hope for a better and more sustainable tomorrow. I am proud of all those that are part of the prizes global community that have already been inspired to strive to create energy innovations and I am also delighted to see how the prize has continued, since its inception, to empower others to make significant and lasting social impact.”