Opening Statement by Mr. Michael Spindelegger Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria to the 14th session of the UNIDO General Conference
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Ladies and Gentleman,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all today for the opening of the 14th session of the General Conference of UNIDO. This is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the Organization’s numerous activities and achievements as well as to discuss its increasingly important role in the global development agenda.
The theme of this year’s General Conference “The New Industrial Revolution: Making it sustainable” underlines the importance of sustainable industrial development strategies in the present international development context. By successfully integrating the concept of sustainability, UNIDO has placed industrial development in the context of the complex economic, environmental, social and security challenges that characterize the current era of globalization.
Today, a general consensus exists that access to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy is indispensable for sustainable economic development. It is widely acknowledged that the Millennium Development Goals will not be reached unless access to energy services is significantly improved. Access to sustainable sources of energy is crucial to enhance productive activities, which create employment, generate income and thus alleviate poverty.
In this context, Austria welcomes the effective implementation of UNIDO projects within the framework of the “energy and environment” thematic area. Austria fully supports the organization’s focus on technical cooperation activities in the fields of energy access, renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon emissions reduction.
Moreover, sustainable industrial development is closely linked to the question of global climate change and the protection of the environment. Austria therefore applauds UNIDO for its “Green Industry” initiative. Equally, UNIDO’s invaluable contribution to the preparatory processes of the Rio+20 negotiations and the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban is clearly to be commended. UNIDO’s support for developing countries secures resource-efficient low-carbon growth. It creates new green jobs, develops clean technologies and implements environmental agreements.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The social dimension of sustainable development merits our special attention. Development can only be sustainable if it is inclusive and based on a human rights approach. Gender equality, empowerment of women and inclusion of the marginalized in decision-making and productive activities are preconditions for sustainable development, peace and security. This year’s developments in the Arab world and the protest that flares up even in some developed countries are effects of serious social discontent and lack of perspectives, in particular for the youth. Unemployment and social participation, especially of young people who are unable, despite decent education, to gain their living, is one of the great challenges on the development agenda.
In this context, I especially welcome and support UNIDO’s work on productive employment activities, especially for young people and women who are key agents for development. UNIDO’s work in the countries of the Mano River Union is a superb example in that respect which could serve as a model for other regions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Increasing demand for energy services and rapidly changing technology create a window of opportunity to establish energy systems that are more sustainable than current fuel-based ones. UNIDO’s projects for the development of renewable sources of energy in the Pacific Island Region are an excellent example of UNIDO’s work in this field that Austria is proud to support. And we will continue to do so. These projects aim at the establishment of renewable energy systems based on locally available resources in order to increase access to clean energy.
Austria fully supports the Secretary General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, as well as UNIDO’s activities in this context, to achieve universal access to energy. I congratulate you, Mr. Director General, on your recent appointment as co-chair of the “High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All”. May I recall in this context, that Austria hosted, for the second time, the Vienna Energy Forum in June 2011. 1.400 participants, representatives of governments, civil society and the private sector discussed alternative energy concepts and solutions for an efficient and reasonable use of energy to reach the UN energy-goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This week, you will address important issues, some of them I have already outlined. I wish you constructive and fruitful deliberations as well as an enjoyable and pleasant stay in Vienna.
I thank you for your attention.