With over 2000 participants, 30 sessions and 22 side events, the eighth edition of the International Renewable Energy Conference (IREC) was held last week in Seoul, the Republic of Korea from Tuesday until Friday. Called KIREC Seoul 2019 after the hosting country and city, the event was one of a kind; for the first time in the IRECs, a national and a local government where co-host. Cities are taking the leading role in the renewable energy debate and KIREC Seoul 2019 was another example of multi-level integration needed for the energy transformation.
The conference started on 22 October with a day full of side events. From climate to mobility and women empowerment, the day was an opportunity for the organisations to highlight what they were doing to advance into a more sustainable energy future.
We also launched our newest report, the 2019 Asia and the Pacific Renewable Energy Status Report. Supported by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations ESCAP, the report presents the current status of renewable energy in the region by examining the policy landscape, investment flows, the status of renewables in increasing energy access, and more. Renewables present an opportunity for the Asia and the Pacific region to become a leader in the energy transition. Understanding what is currently happening in the region is key to harnessing this momentum.
Wednesday started with a powerful speech by Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary General, calling for dialogue; “Political will is important and necessary. Only when politicians show strong will can they achieve the goals and people will participate. It’s not the time to fight each other.”
His message was underlined by Kim Do-hyun, a young climate activist from South Korea demanding action on the energy transition: “we were complimented on what we are trying to do; that what we are doing is amazing given our young age; and, that we represent hope. I am standing here today to demand action in response to our call.” Given the cultural norm of not challenging authority, this statement, by a young person and spoken directly to the Minister, illustrated the commitment of youth in Korea to seeing change.
The parallel sessions formed the main segment of KIREC Seoul . Divided into five tracks, each one tackled a particular theme regarding renewables; Policy and Market Design; Cities; Finance, Technology & Industrialization, Innovation and Social Dimension. Thursday 24 October was followed by a high-level panel on the central role of cities in the energy transition.
KIREC Seoul 2019 closed with the reading of the KIREC Seoul 2019 Conference Declaration and final remarks by REN21 Executive Secretary, Rana Adib: “We do not have one second to lose, and we need to work together for systemic change. This means making renewables not the conventional fuel of tomorrow, but of today.”
A summary of the event, quotes, photos and activities from each day can be found on our site.
Thank you to our speakers, participants and our entire community who convened in Seoul for the conference, we felt heartened to see the forward-moving energy, exchange and discussion that took place.
At this international high-level policy event, REN21 invites leaders from across society to meet and discuss policies and experiences. The focus is on building collective know-how to advance renewables at the international, national and sub-national levels.
Inspired by the 2004 renewables conference in Bonn, each IREC involves representatives from business, governments, civil society, science and academia all whom participate in discussions and debates – with the objective of advancing the global energy transition to renewables. The IREC is hosted by a national government and is held biennially.