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                                                                                   Summary of the session

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The session was chaired by Mr. Josef Pröll (Austria), Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management.

Mr. Hendrik Vygen (Germany), Director General, Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, delivered the introductory speech.

The Conference noted the variety of initiatives undertaken to integrate environmental aspects and sustainable development into energy policy in the region and welcomed the elements of the Plan of Implementation adopted at the Johannesburg Summit concerning a sustainable energy future. It stressed the need to implement them, including the goal of diversifying energy supply by developing advanced, cleaner, more efficient, affordable and cost-effective energy technologies, such as fossil-fuel technologies and renewable energy technologies, including hydro. The Conference also confirmed support to energy partnerships to work together to remove barriers to renewable and energy-efficient technology, and welcomed the offer of Germany to host a global conference on renewable energy and energy efficiency in June 2004.

The Conference endorsed the Guidelines on reforming energy pricing and subsidies prepared jointly by the UNECE Committees on Environmental Policy and on Sustainable Energy as a means of implementing the energy-related provisions of the decisions taken at the fourth “Environment for Europe” Conference. It encouraged States to consider implementing these Guidelines. The Conference also expressed support to using market-based and economic instruments, as appropriate, to promote both economic growth and environmental protection through improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes. It further invited both Committees, as a follow-up, to examine the role of economic instruments in promoting the use of renewable energy, taking into account the work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other international organizations.

The Conference also supported further efforts to improve energy efficiency and promote renewable energy sources and confirmed that its Statement on energy efficiency reaffirmed these goals. It noted the progress report on the implementation of the energy-related decisions of the Aarhus Conference prepared by the Energy Charter Secretariat and invited it, in cooperation with other relevant international organizations, to report on further progress on energy efficiency efforts at the next conference.