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International Conference for Renewable Energies (renewables 2004)

The International Conference for Renewable Energies (renewables 2004) opens today at the International Congress Center in Bonn, Germany. An estimated 2,000 delegates representing governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), the private sector, civil society, research institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are expected to attend the four-day meeting. Convened by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, renewables 2004 aims to prepare the ground for a global expansion of renewable energy, integrated within a broader strategy designed to create a highly efficient and sustainable energy future.

The Conference will identify key obstacles to the wider use of renewable energy and will focus on practical solutions to overcome these barriers. The Conference is expected to conclude with the adoption of: a Political Declaration containing shared political goals for an increased role of renewable energy; an International Action Programme, including actions and commitments by governments, IGOs and stakeholders; and a set of Policy Recommendations. The Conference outcomes will also include arrangements for a follow-up process and a mechanism to share information on progress in implementing the International Action Programme.

Throughout the four-day meeting, delegates will participate in Plenary sessions, a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD), and a Ministerial Segment. The Plenary sessions and Ministerial Roundtables will discuss policies for renewable energy market development, financing options for renewable energy, and the need to strengthen capacities, research and technology development. A Ministerial Panel will address energy services and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the contribution made by renewable energy in meeting the climate change challenge. Over 60 side events will be held during the meeting.


During the fuel crisis of the 1970s, many countries began exploring alternative sources of energy. The international community's first major attempt to develop a strategy for the use of alternative fuels was the 1981 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/36/193 on the outcomes of the UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy. In this Resolution, the UN adopted the Nairobi Programme of Action for the Development and Utilization of New and Renewable Sources of Energy, which addresses the need for an intergovernmental body, secretariat support, coordination within the UN system, regional and subregional action, cooperation among developing countries, and the mobilization of financial resources for new and renewable sources of energy. However, it was only following the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that renewable energy issues began to feature more prominently on the international environment and development agenda.

UNCED: At UNCED, delegates adopted Agenda 21, an action plan for implementing sustainable development. Agenda 21 contains many elements of a sustainable energy strategy. Chapter 9 of Agenda 21, on protecting the atmosphere, notes that much of the world's energy is currently produced and consumed in an unsustainable manner. It recognizes that the need to control atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases and other substances will increasingly need to be based on efficiency in energy production, transmission, distribution and consumption, and a growing reliance on environmentally sound energy systems, particularly new and renewable sources of energy. The chapter also calls on governments and other stakeholders to, inter alia: promote the research, development, transfer and use of technologies and practices for environmentally sound energy systems, with particular attention to developing countries; review current energy supply mixes to determine how the contribution of environmentally sound energy systems could be increased in an economically efficient manner; examine and implement measures to overcome barriers; and coordinate energy plans regionally and subregionally.

UN CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS: In the years following UNCED, several UN Conferences and Summits addressed renewable energy and sustainable development issues in their outcome documents. These included the Global Conference on Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States (1994), International Conference on Population and Development (1995), World Summit on Social Development (1995), fourth World Conference on Women (1995), UN Conference on Human Settlements HABITAT II (1996), and World Food Summit (1996).

THE WORLD SOLAR SUMMIT: As a follow-up to UNCED, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) organized a High-level Expert Meeting in Paris in 1993, which launched the preparatory process for a world summit on the wider use of renewable energy. The World Solar Summit Process (WSSP) extended over a period of three years and included a series of expert and ministerial-level regional meetings. In 1994, the Executive Board of UNESCO approved the creation of a World Solar Commission with the mandate to provide advice on measures to reinforce global and regional cooperation for the promotion of renewable energy. The WSSP, which convened in Harare, Zimbabwe in September 1996, adopted the Harare Declaration on Solar Energy and Sustainable Development and launched the World Solar Programme 1996-2005, a ten-year programme for the promotion of renewable energy.

UNGASS-19: The 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS-19), held at UN Headquarters in New York in June 1997, adopted Resolution A/RES/S-19/2 on the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21. The Resolution states that energy is essential for economic and social development and for improved quality of life, and that sustainable patterns of production, distribution and use of energy are crucial. UNGASS-19 also decided that energy issues would be further discussed at the ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-9) and established an open-ended intergovernmental group of experts on energy and sustainable development to begin preparations for CSD-9.

CSD-9: CSD-9, which took place at UN Headquarters in New York in April 2001, adopted Decision 9/1 (E/CN.17/2001/19) on Energy for sustainable development. The Decision identifies challenges and recommendations regarding energy accessibility, efficiency, renewable energy, advanced fossil fuel technologies, nuclear energy technologies, rural energy, and energy and transport. The Decision states that energy is central to achieving sustainable development goals, notes wide disparities in the levels of energy consumption within and between developed and developing countries, and concludes that current patterns of energy production, distribution and utilization are unsustainable.
CSD-9 identified the major challenge for both developed and developing countries as the development, utilization and dissemination of renewable energy technologies on a scale wide enough to contribute significantly to energy for sustainable development. The Commission also recommended, inter alia:

  • developing and implementing appropriate national, regional and international policies and measures to create an enabling environment for the development, utilization and distribution of renewable energy sources;

  • developing domestic programmes to increase the contribution of renewable energy to total energy consumption;

  • encouraging the role of the private sector in the development and utilization of renewable energy technologies;

  • strengthening research, development, demonstration and institutional capacities in the field of renewable energy utilization;

  • promoting the utilization of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro (including mini-hydro), and ocean (wave, tidal, and thermal energy conversion) to meet part of the energy needs for sustainable development;

  • developing and using indigenous sources of renewable energy, where appropriate; and

  • strengthening financial support to developing countries for the promotion of renewable energy.

Regarding energy accessibility, the Commission made various recommendations, including: improving access to modern biomass technologies and fuel wood sources and supplies; commercializing biomass operations; developing locally available energy resources for greater energy diversification; and promoting renewable energy, especially in rural areas, through community-based development methods.

On rural energy, the Commission noted that access to affordable energy services is a prerequisite for implementation of the goal accepted by the international community to halve the proportion of people living on less than US$1 per day by 2015.

G-8 RENEWABLE ENERGY TASK FORCE: In July 2000, the leaders of the eight major industrialized democracies (G-8) and the President of the European Commission (EC) met in Okinawa, Japan for the G-8's 26th Summit. At the Summit, the G-8 established the G-8 Renewable Energy Task Force to identify actions to promote a change in the supply, distribution and use of renewable energy in developing countries.

The Task Force submitted its report to the G-8's 27th Summit in Genoa, Italy in 2001, concluding that renewable energy resources can sharply reduce local, regional and global environmental impacts as well as energy security risks. It can also, in some circumstances, reduce energy costs for consumers. The Task Force suggested that concerted action by the G-8, other countries, the private sector,
and international financial institutions to implement the Task Force's recommendations over the next decade could result in various positive outcomes, including electricity access from renewable sources for up to 300 million people in rural areas of developing countries, and service for up to 500 million people connected to electricity grids worldwide.

WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. One of the major outcomes of the WSSD was the adoption of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), which addresses renewable energy in several of its chapters.
Regarding poverty eradication (JPOI Chapter II), governments agreed to improve access to reliable and affordable energy services for sustainable development, so as to facilitate the achievement of the MDGs. These included actions to:

  • improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources through various means, such as enhanced rural electrification and decentralized energy systems, and increased use of renewables;

  • improve access to modern biomass technologies and fuelwood sources and supplies, and commercialize biomass operations; and

  • promote the sustainable use of biomass and other forms of renewable energy through improved patterns of use.

Regarding sustainable consumption and production patterns (JPOI Chapter III), governments agreed to increase substantially the global share of renewable energy sources, with the objective of increasing the contribution of renewable energy to total energy supply with a sense of urgency. They recognized the role of national and voluntary regional targets and initiatives, and the need to ensure that energy policies support developing countries' efforts to eradicate poverty. They also agreed to, inter alia: develop and disseminate alternative energy technologies with the aim of giving a greater share of the energy mix to renewable energy; combine the increased use of renewable energy resources, more efficient use of energy, and greater reliance on advanced energy technologies; and develop and utilize indigenous energy sources and infrastructures for local use and promote rural community participation in the development and utilization of renewable energy technologies.

In relation to the sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS) (JPOI Chapter VII), the WSSD identified, inter alia, the need to support the availability of adequate, affordable and environmentally sound energy services for SIDS by strengthening and supporting ongoing and new efforts to improve energy supply and services by 2004. Regarding sustainable development in Africa (JPOI Chapter VIII), governments agreed to provide support for the implementation of energy initiatives, including increasing the use of renewable energy.
In addition to the JPOI, over 200 non-negotiated partnerships/initiatives aimed at implementing Agenda 21 were launched at the WSSD. Of these partnerships, 37 specifically address energy for sustainable development.

JREC: During the final WSSD Plenary, Denmark, on behalf of the EU, announced the formation of a like-minded group of countries on renewable energy, now known as the Johannesburg Renewable Energy Coalition (JREC). The EU, with Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Alliance of Small Island States, Switzerland and Turkey issued a statement titled The Way Forward on Renewable Energy. The statement contains a commitment by JREC governments to increase the share of renewable energy in the global total primary energy supply mix. It states that increasing renewable energy use is essential for achieving sustainable development at national and global levels, and that renewable energy can provide important new ways to reduce pollution, diversify and secure energy supply, and improve access to energy in support of poverty eradication. In the statement, JREC governments also commit to work toward substantially increasing the global share of renewable energy sources, with regular review of progress, on the basis of clear and ambitious time-bound targets set at all levels. The statement indicates that JREC countries have adopted, or will adopt, targets for the increase of renewable energy, and will encourage others to do likewise. The first international JREC conference was held in June 2003, in Brussels, Belgium and focused on the regional status and potential for renewable energy use. To date, JREC has 87 members and is serviced by a Secretariat hosted by the EC. A finance expert group was also created to discuss innovative financing models for renewable energy.


At the WSSD, German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder invited the international community to Germany for an international conference on renewable energy. Germany's Federal Government then initiated a preparatory process that included the establishment of an International Steering Committee, several regional preparatory meetings, a National Advisory Committee, and an Organizing Committee and Conference Secretariat.


Latin America and Caribbean:
The regional preparatory meeting for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region was held in October 2003, in Brasilia, Brazil. The meeting adopted the Brasilia Platform on Renewable Energies. The Platform reaffirms the goal set out in the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development to ensure that, by 2010, the use of renewable energy in the region as a whole will amount to at least 10% of the region's total energy consumption. This will be achieved through voluntary efforts and take into account national situations. The Brasilia Platform also calls on renewables 2004 to support the creation of a technical and financial cooperation fund to facilitate cooperation between industrialized countries and the LAC region with the aim of reducing costs and increasing investment in renewable energy in LAC countries.

Africa: An initial preparatory meeting for the African region was held in November 2003, in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants adopted a Draft Statement on Renewables in Africa, that includes support for moving forward with the process launched at the WSSD to develop renewable energy globally, and to secure worldwide consensus on the JREC.

In May 2004, the African Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Energy Development took place in Nairobi. Ministers adopted the Statement on Renewables in Africa. The statement calls for the promotion of sustainable production and utilization of biomass in all sectors, as well as research to assess and analyze renewable energy resources, appropriate benchmarks to evaluate progress on renewable energy development, and the incorporation of renewable energy in existing and planned energy programmes and associated investment programmes.

Europe: The European Conference for Renewable Energy - Intelligent Policy Options, was held in January 2004, in Berlin, Germany. The meeting adopted the Berlin Conclusions, urging, inter alia, EU institutions to start a political process of setting ambitious, time-bound targets for increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption for the medium (2020) and long term. The Berlin Conclusions note that a 20% renewable energy target for gross inland energy consumption is achievable in the EU by 2020. The meeting also called for concerted global action to remove market barriers to renewable energy development and expand the work of the JREC.

Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific regional preparatory meeting was held in March 2004, in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates adopted the Bangkok Statement on Renewable Energy. The Statement includes a call for government leadership to foster the creation of markets for renewable energy. These markets should provide long-term regulatory and price stability, reduce transaction costs associated with project preparation, and encourage cost reduction, reparability and sustainability through increased local manufacturing and local management. They should also allow non-discriminatory grid access for renewable energy, ensure its preferred use in appropriate off-grid applications, and address issues of fuel security for biomass projects. Delegates also called on renewables 2004 to promote global cooperation in the field of technological development and increased investment in renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Middle East and North Africa: The Middle East and North Africa Regional Conference on Renewable Energies and Sustainable Development was held in April 2004, in Sana'a, the Republic of Yemen. The meeting adopted the Sana'a Statement on Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development, which, inter alia, calls on developed countries to establish a regional center for renewable energy and sustainable development in Yemen that would specialize in renewable energy technology research.

Other meetings: Several other meetings have also discussed renewables 2004. These included: the International Renewable Energy Conference-Renewable Energy on the Market in Sonderborg, Denmark (September 2003), the fourth Global Forum on Sustainable Energy in Vienna, Austria (February 2004); the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi, India (February 2004); and a preparatory conference of the JREC in Copenhagen, Denmark (September 2003).

At a preparatory NGO meeting held in Bad Honnef, Germany in October 2003, NGOs formed the Citizens United for Renewable Energies and Sustainability (CURES) network to coordinate the international NGO community's contributions to renewables 2004. The meeting adopted a declaration, The Future is Renewable, which calls on all governments to agree to ambitious renewable energy targets in order to achieve the MDGs and to mitigate dangerous climate change.


OPENING SESSION: The opening session will convene from 9:00-10:00 am in the Plenary Hall to hear statements from Jrgen Trittin, Germany's Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul Germany's Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Brbel Dieckmann, Mayor of Bonn. A welcome address will be delivered by Peer Steinbrck, President of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and introductory remarks will be given by Rajendra Pachauri, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute and Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Chakib Khelil, Algerian Minister of Energy and Mining.

MULTI-STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUE: The first MSD will take place in the Plenary Hall from 11:30 am-1:30 pm to discuss The Value and Opportunities of Renewable Energy - Policy Frameworks and Regulatory Certainty. This will be followed by a second dialogue from 3:00-6:30 pm on Promoting Renewable Energy - Delivering Finance and Capacity for the Future.
SIDE EVENTS: Numerous side events, organized by governments, international agencies, and civil society will take place from 1:30-3:00 pm and 6:30-8:00 pm. A Science Forum will take place from 10:15 am-6:00 pm. See the daily conference journal for more information.

RENEWABLES 2004 BULLETIN: This publication, renewables 2004 Bulletin, will be produced daily by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and is available in hardcopy throughout the conference center or on the internet at A final summary of the renewables 2004 conference will be available online on 7 June 2004 at

Further information


National governments
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Small Island Developing States
Non-state coalitions