• English

Eleventh Session of the Steering Committee of the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project

Eleventh Session, 29 to 31 May 2000

Statement by Mrs. Danuta Hübner, Executive Secretary Designate

Palais des Nations, Geneva

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is my pleasure to address you this morning on the occasion of the annual session of the Steering Committee of the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project. I have followed the progress of this Project with interest and I am pleased that your Committee has supported and implemented this work during three phases over the last nine years. Indeed, I am also pleased to join you in launching its successor project, Energy Efficiency 21, acknowledging, as I am certain you do that we still have much work ahead of us in this field.

As some of you know, I have had special responsibility for operational and technical assistance activities since joining the ECE secretariat. I can assure you that my interest and support of these activities will not wane once I take over as Executive Secretary of the ECE on June 1st. I will continue to remain receptive to your suggestions and advice about strengthening ECE’s presence in this field.

I should note that as we conclude with Energy Efficiency 2000 and initiate the implementation of the new project, we do so with many advantages: lessons learned, experiences gained and, not least, significant extra-budgetary resources already allocated to activities, some of which will be subsumed under Energy Efficiency 21. Indeed, we have had some very interesting developments this year including the preparation of a Strategy, and Operational Plan for the new project, a large new grant from the United Nations Foundation and a large funding allocation by the General Assembly from the Development Account. I have no doubt that the future for your work in this field will be in keeping with the pioneering role of ECE in the past.

The Economic Commission for Europe has been working on increased energy economy and efficiency since its 30th session in April 1974. At that time, the Commission initiated a series of intergovernmental meetings, forward looking studies and projections to show how energy conservation could contribute to increasing energy security, trade and technical co-operation among ECE countries. During the 1980s, energy conservation emerged as the most common energy policy priority between the market economies and the planned economies of central and Eastern Europe. The ECE work programme in this field expanded with technical co-operation projects supported by UNDP and regular budget programmes under the Senior Advisers on Energy.

By 1990, ECE member states also recognised clearly that energy efficiency was needed to enhance environmental conditions. Greater energy efficiency was needed to meet international commitments under the ECE Long Range Trans Boundary Air Pollution Convention and under the proposed UN Framework Conventional on Climate Change. In preparation for the UN Conference on Environment and Development, ECE member states wanted to make progress and demonstrate collective action in this field and, therefore, established Energy Efficiency 2000 as an operational project in June 1990.

As you know, the original mandate for this project was the Bergen Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Development. In it, governments agreed ‘to initiate an ECE region wide campaign "ENERGY EFFICIENCY 2000" to enhance trade and co-operation in energy efficient, environmentally sound techniques and management practices to close the energy efficiency gap between actual practice and best technologies between ECE countries’. When it was established, Energy Efficiency 2000 was the largest and most comprehensive project of its kind among ECE member states.

During its first two three-year phases, the Project maintained a leading role in this field and provided many opportunities for trade and co-operation. The Project contributed to enhancing energy efficiency on the national, bilateral and multilateral levels. Initially, during the first phase (1991-1994), international trade fair workshops, business briefing sessions, contacts, data bases were needed to fill the 'information gap'. Once this information gap was addressed, government and business counterparts began to work on concrete projects during the second phase (1994-1997). This lead to the development of energy efficiency demonstration zones as a practical method of providing actual opportunities for trade and co-operation.

During the third phase (1997-2000), the Project focussed on the participation and involvement of the private sector; on networking, using electronic means such as the Internet; on technical assistance for investment project development and identifying sources of financing; and on promoting energy efficiency standards and labels.

A key programme area in the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project has been on energy efficiency standards and labels. Work in this area has been conducted mainly through the SACHA project, which is being supported by the European Commission SAVE programme within the framework of the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project. The European Commission has funded two phases of this project and is considering funding a third phase. The aim of SACHA is to promote energy efficiency standards and labelling in household appliances and lighting in economies in transition.

An important feature of the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project has been its leveraging effect both within and outside the UN system. Over the years, the Project, which is a comparatively small technical assistance programme, has been able to lever, that is, induce other institutions and donors to support and finance energy efficiency initiatives in economies in transition.

For example, during 1996, the Global Environment Facility approved grants to the energy efficiency demonstration zones in Gabrovo (Bulgaria) and in Vladimir (Russian Federation) for US$ 2 to 3 million each. Similar projects have been funded in Romania and approved by the GEF for preparation in Croatia, Hungary, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine. With the support of Norway, and in collaboration with the World Bank, work is underway on business plans for investments in Energy Efficiency Demonstration Zones in 8 Russian cities.

More recently, we have enhanced our activities with the private sector, commercial companies, financial institutions and professional trade associations. Indeed, during the last session of the Steering Committee, we announced that the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) at UN Headquarters and the United Nations Foundation had awarded up to $US 2 million for a project on energy efficiency investments for climate change mitigation. Over the past year, all of the co-financing for this project has been pledged, and some of it already deposited with the UN Foundation in Washington and in the process of being transferred to ECE.

In November of last year, the United Nations General Assembly approved operating modalities for the Development Account, a special multi-year account for funding supplementary development activities. The Regional Adviser on Sustainable Energy proposed a project, within the context of this Account, on the rational use of energy and water resources for the central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The General Assembly approved US$ 1.75 million for this project to be implemented by the ECE and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Southeast Europe has also been the focus of much attention by the ECE and others over the last few years in this field. In November 1999, an International Conference was held in Sofia (Bulgaria) to develop a concept proposal for a Regional Network for the Efficient Use of Energy Resources. This conference brought together experts from Southeastern European countries and western supporting institutions. The proposal developed at the conference has now been submitted by ECE to the Stability Pact Regional Funding Conference for Southeastern Europe, held in Brussels this March. It is presently under consideration by the Stability Pact with their World Bank and European Commission counterparts.

Mr. Chairman,

These are some of the many accomplishments of the Energy Efficiency 2000 Project which have helped to shape the development of the Strategy for the Energy Efficiency 21 Project and to draft the Project Plan you have before you for consideration during the next few days.

As you will see, under Energy Efficiency 21, we are proposing a number of new initiatives as well as strengthening others. First of all, we are proposing to provide greater coherence to all our operational energy efficiency and climate change activities. To do this, we intend to enhance our Internet communications to encompass all activities in all sub-regions of the ECE. It will provide a tool to co-ordinate and integrate all activities as well as to exchange views and share experiences.

But most importantly, we intend to expand the human and institutional capacities in the economies in transition for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and trading in carbon credits. In this way, we can help build the skills and policy reforms with those who can benefit most from the prospect of carbon emissions trading under the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We also believe that through Energy Efficiency 21, we can further strengthen the working relationships between governments and businesses and, thereby, achieve more tangible results. In other words, we intend to further expand our government-business partnerships. With this in mind, we will shortly be seeking the participation and support of governments and the private sector for the Energy Efficiency 21 Project.

In closing, I wish you success in your proceedings over the next few days. I look forward to your continued success in fulfilling the aims of the original mandate established for you. I am certain your efforts will ultimately lead to more secure and economically rationalised energy systems as well as a cleaner environment within the ECE region. Indeed, these are laudable, imperative objectives.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.