The Asian Development Bank (ADB), along with its co-organizers the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Korea Energy Agency (KEA), is inviting clean energy practitioners from across the region—including government agencies, private sector, equipment and service providers, financiers, researchers, and other stakeholders—to join the 18th edition Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2023 in Manila to be held on 13–16 June 2023. The theme of this year’s ACEF is “Navigating toward a Carbon-Neutral Future through Clean Energy Solutions.”
The context for ACEF 2023 is that over the past couple of years, we have seen the mainstreaming of carbon neutrality, as many countries have committed to net zero targets and have set more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The pledges by countries and corporations to carbon neutrality are welcome and represent a revitalization of commitments made through the Paris Climate Agreement. But these decarbonization pledges are often not discussed in a framework that highlights a just energy transition and contributes to the human and social development needs of developing countries.
Indeed, the transition to carbon-neutrality in Asia and the Pacific means more than just shifting to cleaner and renewable resources. It involves providing access to electricity for the approximately 133 million people who currently have no access, many of whom are in rural and isolated areas. It also requires that we deliver affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, which include the 1.3 billion people relying on traditional use of biomass for cooking in the region (1.5 billion have no access to clean cooking).1
Accordingly, ACEF is a forum for clean energy practitioners to come together and share insights into how we take action using clean energy solutions, as we aim for a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. These solutions support clean energy development that improves energy security, promotes good governance, and encourages private sector participation. It is a must that energy is clean, affordable, reliable, and sustainable for all.
ACEF 2023 aims to deliver practical knowledge, increased awareness, and opportunities for collaboration to a range of clean energy stakeholders and practitioners from across Asia and the Pacific. The intended audience comprises public and private sector entities, academic and researcher institutions, and other stakeholders. The four days of ACEF are packed with a full and diverse agenda in the plenary sessions, panel discussions, deep-dive workshops, and thematic track sessions. Ultimately, ACEF 2023 aspires to have the following impacts in the region:
- Improved governance approaches, regulations and policies, and energy planning methodologies among ADB developing member countries, with the aim to address the barriers to clean energy development and create enabling conditions for increased private and public sector investment into carbon-neutral technologies and systems.
- Increased the development of innovative clean energy initiatives and business models that mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), while enabling more inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development and climate adaptation.
- Increased private sector participation and leadership in the delivery of clean energy innovation, through the development and incubation of new businesses; transfer of business practices and technology; and a significant acceleration in clean energy financing and investment.
Organization of ACEF 2023
ACEF 2023 will be a 4-day in-person event to be held at ADB Headquarters in Manila on the week of 13–16 June 2023.2 The Forum will comprise a diverse set of discussions, including Thematic Track Sessions, Deep Dive Workshops, Spotlight and Regional Sessions, and Plenary Sessions. Each day will be organized into morning sessions that will run from 09:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and afternoon sessions from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The core of ACEF 2023 week will be the 4 Thematic Tracks, each of which will cover an important aspect toward Asia’s clean energy transition. Speakers will be identified through the annual ACEF Call for Abstracts that was announced in 9 February 2023.
Plenary sessions bring together the ACEF community to hear visionary and thought-provoking perspectives on key issues and opportunities from thought leaders involved in the clean energy transition. ACEF 2023 will have two plenary sessions—an Opening Plenary on Tuesday morning of 13 June, and a Closing Plenary on Friday afternoon of 16 June.
The Asia and Pacific region is faced with a multi-pronged set of issues related to clean energy and climate, including the fact that it accounts for more than 50% of the global annual greenhouse gas emissions; bears a significant burden of the global impacts of climate change from extreme weather conditions and droughts; and has pressing needs for inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development of its populations. Energy has always been a central pillar of economic development and growth, and as a result, the shift to clean energy development holds much promise for avoiding the emissions, fulfilling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and advancing the climate commitments made through the Paris Climate Agreement, the Nationally Determined Contributions of countries, and the net zero or carbon-neutrality pledges of developing member countries.
This opening plenary session aims to highlight the contributions of and prospects with clean energy as we continue our mission in pursuing inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. It also aims to delve into clean energy’s critical and urgent role in directing development efforts towards carbon neutral pathways.
The ACEF Opening Plenary Session sets the tone for the week. Speakers and panelists will focus on current trends, along with future prospects and opportunities for scaling up clean energy in Asia and the Pacific. Presentations and discussion may cover the key challenges, such as enabling regulations for the power sector, grid integration of variable renewable energy, prospects for improved energy storage, lack of investment in energy efficiency, and barriers to scaling up private sector investment.
CLOSING PLENARY SESSION: SOLIDARITY AND COMMITMENT TOWARD A CARBON-NEUTRAL ASIA AND THE PACIFIC WITH CLEAN ENERGY
The groundbreaking discussions at Glasgow, Scotland, during COP 26 in 2021 recognized that in order to rapidly, deeply, and sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will need to significantly accelerate action during this critical decade. For the first time, at COP 26, there were a number of global partnerships for action announced that provided significant momentum and shifted the locus of climate action toward issue- or sector-based discussions. These partnerships and alliance covered cooperation in areas such as climate finance, methane, forests, and other sectoral areas.
The ACEF 2023 Closing Plenary Session aims to inspire regional collaboration and emphasize partnerships that are taking concrete and urgent action to address climate change. It will also highlight and discuss some of the most transformative clean energy strategies and solutions that have been discussed throughout ACEF Week.
Speakers in the session will showcase success stories from both the public and private sectors, and will identify the potential challenges and solutions, and lessons learned. This closing plenary session will offer participants a clear vision on how clean energy practitioners in Asia and the Pacific can work together to scale up and accelerate the clean energy transition across the region.
Deep Dive Workshops
Deep Dive Workshops (DDWs) are marked by in-depth discussions of concepts, ideas, and technologies. Its format encourages problem-solving and more interaction. DDWs are designed and organized by ADB in collaboration with its partner organizations. These discussions are currently underway, and the DDWs may include cross sectoral approaches (such as energy and water, energy and education, energy and cities, energy and transport) and other energy-related matters (such as regional cooperation, energy storage, energy efficiency, clean heating and cooling solutions, carbon capture utilization and storage, decentralization, green hydrogen, climate adaptation of renewables, smart technologies).
Spotlight and Regional Sessions
Spotlight Sessions will highlight special emerging topics relevant to the clean energy transition, while Regional Sessions will present ADB’s clean energy initiatives and experiences in various Asia and the Pacific subregions. They will be organized by ADB and ACEF’s co-organizers and donors.