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R20 Vienna Conference: Implementing the Sustainable Energy Future

"Don't tell people they can't do something about it, help them DO IT !" pledged R20 Founder, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Politics is not about serving the party, it's about serving the people."

The Vienna R20 Conference gathered more than 600 participants from national and regional governments, the United Nations, investment banks, technology companies, NGOs and academic institutions, for two days packed with discussions, speeches and meetings. The conference demonstrated the collective efforts, partnerships and investments that must be made in order to fight global climate change and jump-start the green economy.
 
Federal Chancellor of Austria, Werner Faymann gave a warm welcome to the R20 conference participants in the Science Auditorium in Vienna. Mr. Faymann stressed the urgent need to take action against climate change through real projects, and stated that a shift towards renewable energy sources is needed.
 
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso followed by applauding the R20 initiative and stated that the key to the future is forging deeper partnerships between all actors at every level. "The importance of the Vienna R20 Conference lies in acting as a catalyst for innovative thinking, new solutions and real actions on the ground". - José Manuel Barroso
 
The UNIDO General Director, Kandeh Yumkella's energetic speech lifted the roof of the Science Auditorium and put "sustainable energy for all" central on both the development and environmental agenda. "On behalf of the Secretary General, I am here to pledge our strong support and partnership with the Governor Schwarzenegger and the R20". - Kandeh Yumkella
 
The R20 Founding Chair, Arnold Schwarzenegger pronounced an inspiring speech about the bottom-up approach to tackling climate change and gave three major points of advice to all government leaders: be a public servant, not a party servant, do not wait for international or  national policies and tell people what they can do, not what they cannot do to fight climate change. "When change comes from people themselves, from the bottom up rather than from the global level down, it is true change. It will endure and can't be reversed. That, in the end, is what makes transitions historic." - R20 Founder, Arnold Schwarzenegger
 
 
 
 

Reception at Palais Niederösterreich, Lower Austria (Official member)

To mark the official inclusion of Lower Austria as R20 member, the Governor of Lower Austria, Erwin Pröll, invited all conference participants to a dinner reception at Palais Niederösterreich. Governor Pröll expressed his belief in a constructive relationship with the R20, and the possibilities of working together to meet the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency goals. Lower Austria produces 92% of renewable energy and will achieve 100% energy autonomy by 2015.

R20 Vienna Conference Panels

The conference consisted of six plenary panels, each bringing together stakeholders and experts from the private sector, scientific institutions, finance instruments and national and sub-national governments. The aim was to look at how the sustainable energy future can be implemented through regional governments, innovative finance mechanism and smart technologies, and in the end how these efforts can be scaled up.
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PANEL 1:
The Energy Mix of the Future
In the presence of the R20 Founding Chair, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the first panel looked at the energy mix of the future and brought perspectives from national governments along  with major business stakeholders. Different renewable solutions were discussed, and a great attention was also put on energy efficiency as imperative to solving both energy needs and the climate challenge. Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta exchanged views with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and expressed a desire to learn and search for the right partnerships necessary to build a green economy in his country and to provide cleaner and cheaper energy in the long run.
 
 
 
The R20 President, Michèle Sabban stressed the importance of sharing experiences and best practices and announced the creation of regional networks for Latin America, Africa and South East Asia. In parallel to the conference, a partnership agreement was signed between Eric Rondolat, CEO Lighting Sector, Royal Philips Electronics and Michèle Sabban.
 
 
 
PANEL 2:
Empowering Regions to implement New Energy Solutions
 
The second panel stressed the need to set bold, yet clear and predictable goals. R20 Strategic Advisor Terry Tamminen contributed a big share of California's successful climate policies to such ambitious goals and specific targets. The panel emphasized the need for regional governments to be clear on these goals and plans, so that investors can trust them with long-term investments. "Never be afraid to set goals and take action immediately instead of waiting for consensus" said Terry Tamminen, while the President of Azores, Vasco Alves Cordeiro emphasized that energetic independence is a political issue, not just a financial or technical issue and Luc Bas, Director of European Programs and International States and Regions with the Climate Group noted that the key to investors is to know the ambitions and plans of the regions to be able to plan long term investments.
 
 
 
 
PANEL 3:
Innovative Finance Mechanisms for Climate Investment Flows
 
A holistic view on risk management is needed for a shift in investment towards the green economy, according to the third panel consisting of major investors, both public and private. Public-private partnerships were suggested as a solution, as public money attracts private money. Small to medium sized enterprises was put forward to have an important role as their structure can handle a low rate of return. Cheryl Fischer from the European Investment Bank stated that there is a lot of finance, but it is difficult for investors to find the right projects, while Josué Tanaka from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development explained the need for bridging the gap between finance, innovation and real world projects. The concept of pre-investment facility was proposed by the R20 in collaboration with IDEAcarbon.
 
 
PANEL 4:    
Technologies for a Smart Future
 
The second day of the conference started with showcasing of some of the innovative technologies that can enable a low carbon future. Illustrated by real world examples, from lighting to electric cars and new retail solutions, the panel showed that a green future is technically feasible. However, an integrated approach is needed to mobilize the population and implement these technologies on a large scale. Oleksandr Fomenko, Vice Governor of Donetsk Region in Ukraine welcomed the panel discussions as energizing and inspiring, and giving momentum to working at the local level. Based on audience responses, the panellists concluded that raising awareness on available solutions through the R20 multi-stakeholder model is vital.
 

PANEL 5 :
Emerging Countries Showing the Path
 
Panel 5, consisting of key stakeholders working in emerging countries, emphasized the important role of these countries; 66% of energy consumption in 2030 will come from emerging markets. The panel explained how top down approaches to the issue has failed, and urged for a grassroots movement in the field. Paul Odili from Delta State in Nigeria outlined their cooperation with the R20, and explained that his state's goal is to be a driving force for a green shift and inspire national authorities and neighboring countries. James E. Rogers, Chair of the Global Sustainability Electricity Partnership, emphasized the coalition needed to address these issues globally, and expressed a hope that GSEP and R20's cooperation can address this issue.
 
PANEL 6:
Implementing the Renewables
 
A positive outlook was given by the last panel, focusing on the great opportunity clean energy offer to work together and form new partnerships. This will lead to a much higher than expected growth in new energy solutions, according to Berkeley professor Daniel Kammen. Inspiring new energy storage and biomass technologies were showed as examples of what such partnerships can deliver. Experiences with building a green future in Flevoland showed how future oriented policies also can receive great popular support. Leen Verbeek, the Queen's Commissioner of Flevoland, stated that popular support is a reason, not an obstacle for implementing sustainable policies.

Student Event at the National Library of Austria

A student event was also organized at the Austrian National Library, in collaboration with the Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research. The event was a major success, with 1000 audience students and live broadcasting made available for more than 1000. The students of Vienna had the opportunity to follow discussion between Governor Schwarzenegger, the Director General of UNIDO, Kandeh Yumkella and the Austrian Minister of

Governor Schwarzenegger sponsored the National Library to display an historic map of California dating from 1666.
 
Science, Karlheinz Toechterle. Governor Schwarzenegger reminded the audience of the great people power students have, and their opportunity to take action for their own future.
 
This event was part of a wider programme launched by Bonnie Reiss, Global Director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute promoting environment and sustainability for the younger generation.
 
 

Meeting of the R20 Governing Board

The R20 Governing Board, presided by Michèle Sabban, met the second day of the conference and three new Board members were elected.
 
Daniel C. Esty was elected Vice Chair for North America and Secretary of the R20 Board. He will bring his experience as Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, where he lead the efforts to engage capital in clean energy, resulting in the creation of a green bank.

 The President of the Azores Region in Portugal, Vasco Alves Cordeiro, will represent European regions and small islands issues on the R20 Board. His region is in the forefront of adopting a variety of renewable energy solutions, and Mr. Cordeiro has shown strong political engagement on climate change issues.
 
Martine Provost, Executive Director of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), was elected representative of the private sector and utilities, ensuring a strong and productive cooperation between the R20 and GSEP.
 
The R20 2012 Activity report and finances were adopted by the Board, as well as the 2013 Action Programme and Budget, geared towards consolidating and scaling up the R20 niche during 2013.

MOU with Austrian Climate and Energy Fund

The Austrian Climate and Energy Fund and R20 signed a memorandum of understanding to express their will to cooperate in know-how transfer between Austrian Climate and Energy Model Regions and R20 Regions.
 
Aware of the described potential of regions, the Austrian government successfully set up the Climate and Energy Fund in 2007, which permitted, among others, the initiation of 106 Climate and Energy Model Regions with 1113 participating municipalities in Austria. Over the last four years, those regions developed master plans which resulted in hundreds of projects. The Climate and Energy Regions tackle climate change with a unique bottom-up approach.
 
The cooperation may organize workshops and field trips to make the know-how transfer visible and include round tables with policy makers and companies from Austrian model regions and R20 regions. A Joint Working Group will be established, to move forward the objectives of the cooperation and report on ongoing or planned projects and initiatives.

Nobel Sustainability Award

Sunpartner wins the Nobel Sustainability Award for the 2013 Clean Tech Company
Sunpartner develops innovative energy solutions and were given the award for their WYSIPS technology.

The technology is capable of transforming any surface to an energy-producing component. Ludovic Deblois, Chairman of the Sunpartner Group received the prize from Gustaf Nobel, founder of the Nobel Sustainability Trust, in front of a huge crowd in the conference hall.
 

MOU with the City of Vienna

The City of Vienna, represented by Ulli Sima, Executive City Councillor for the Environment, confirmed their full membership to R20 by stressing the mutual interest to cooperate in the technological and structural know-how transfer in the field of climate protection, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, education and public awareness building.

The Start of a Global Effort

 
The Vienna R20 Conference was a milestone for the R20, and hopefully just the beginning of an adventure. Now is the time to use the motivation, knowledge and partnerships developed during the conference and to start working. Only through concrete action on the ground can climate change be addressed, and only through a wide cooperation can this action be implemented.
 
The R20 is looking forward to a year of scaling up and implementing climate action around the world, and we want to have you all with us in this effort. And with the important input from all of you at the conference, we are now able to fine tune our tools and projects.
 
We would like to thank all partners, speakers and participants at the Vienna R20 Conference. You all contributed to making such an inspiring and important event. We are now looking forward to interesting and productive cooperation, because only together can we take the action needed to fight global climate change.
 
Christophe Nuttall, Executive Director R20

Special thanks to all of our Sponsors and Partners for their Support:

Co-hosts: UNIDO, UNDP, UNEP, Nobel Sustainability Trust, Assembly of European Regions, USC Schwarzenegger Institute, IDEA Carbon
Main sponsors and new partners of R20 Initiative: OMV, Philips, REWE, Renault-Nissan Alliance
Supported in kind or with funding by: Federal Chancellery of the Republic of Austria, Ministry for Science and Research, Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Lower Austria, City of Vienna, ebs Wien
Sponsoring companies: Erste Bank, Mondi, Österreichische Hagelversicherung, Christof Group, RENERGIE, Austrian Climate Fund, Siemens, ARA, WKO, Smart Flower, Jobworld, Wittmann
Media Partners: ORF (Austrian Television) and Kronen Zeitung
brainbows
Between the summer of 2012 and February 2013 brainbows together with the R20 organized, with the support of GRACE, the Vienna R20 Conference. brainbows is a consultancy firm from Vienna which specializes in sustainability, energy & climate protection. Based on the expertise in these areas, brainbows is the bridge between the acquisition of knowledge and the delight in learning, between socio-political commitment, customer-oriented service and financial success.

GRACE: Thank you to GRACE, an entertainement event company which brought a number of partners to help set up the conference.

Please visit the Vienna R20 Conference website www.r20vienna.org to view additional photos and videos.