The Organization of American States (OAS), together with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) and Weatherizers Without Borders (WWB), held today in Washington, DC, a public discussion forum on Energy Efficiency and Weatherization in Low Income Housing in the Americas opened by the OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, which was attended by authorities and leaders on the topic of energy and weatherization in the Americas.
In his opening remarks, Secretary General Insulza analyzed the social and economic context in the hemisphere and commented that the last decade “would be remembered by most as one of the more challenging periods in human history marked by the 2008 financial crisis and the social and economic challenges that it unleashed in the Americas and on the world; but it will also be remembered as a period of unprecedented advancement in renewable energy, both as a share of global energy use and in terms of the growth of affordable renewable energy technologies.”
In this regard, Secretary General Insulza said that, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, over the past 10 years global renewable energy production has more than tripled while investment in the sector has increased to more than $300 billion. “It is generally agreed that this surge has played an important part in the steep decline in global energy prices now being experienced,” he said. This situation, he said, represents an important opportunity for member states to reduce their budget deficits, accumulate reserves, and increase their investments in renewable energy.
In his analysis, the head of the hemispheric institution referred to the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas as “an important and useful tool in promoting change towards renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region,” and an initiative that “has helped foster partnerships for greater dialogue, collaboration and awareness among governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, the private sector and academia.”
“I am very pleased to see that the spotlight of today’s Forum will fall on best practices in energy efficiency for low-income housing,” said the Secretary General, who added that the OAS “remains fully committed to supporting countries in their efforts to improve sustainability.” “Energy and climate change are inextricably linked. Furthermore, economic growth social prosperity and rising populations are the main drivers pushing energy needs,” said the OAS leader, who recalled that, given this reality, “Every decision we make regarding the way we use energy has a profound impact on climate change and the lives of all citizens.”
United States Congressman Paul Tonko also participated in the opening session and discussed the details of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), created in 1976 and whose scope, objectives , history and challenges he summarized. The New York lawmaker explained that the program improves the efficiency of the energy used in low-income households, reducing their energy bills and protecting their health and safety. He also said that the lessons learned from the implementation of the project “can be useful for other countries,” and stressed the importance of expanding exchanges and cooperation to achieve a greater impact of weatherization, initiatives that “benefit the citizens of our countries.”
The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, Emilio Rabasa, explained that during the first ministerial meeting of ECPA in 2010, Mexico proposed the establishment of a Working Group on Energy Efficiency to facilitate the exchange of lessons learned and best practices among member states. In this regard, Ambassador Rabasa detailed the activities of the working group, including workshops, seminars and technical missions “that encouraged the transfer and dissemination of alternative ways of applying energy efficiency that are environmentally sound and include cost-effective technologies and systems.” The Mexican diplomat also announced that the ECPA ministerial meeting will be held in Mérida, Yucatán in May, and said that the meeting “will serve to reaffirm the commitment of governments to clean energy and climate efficiency.”
During the Forum, which included the participation of industry professionals and representatives of national governments, the Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the OAS also took part, describing how the issue of sustainable development is a central part of the work of the Organization and along with it, the issue of energy. He said “energy policy in a country is a powerful instrument for its development and in promoting social equality and integration.” In this context he explained the elements of energy policy in his country, specifically the program Basket of Services “conceived to improve the quality of life of people in vulnerable socio-economic situations and ease the access of the population promoting a culture of efficient and safe use of resources and optimizing the investments of the state.”
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.