7th IRENA Assembly Builds Momentum for ADSW

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"Islands are the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to climate change,” said Henry Puna, President of the of Cook Islands, during a panel at the Seventh Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) yesterday. Hence it was with a sense of urgency that IRENA launched this two-day annual event yesterday in Abu Dhabi as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

Government leaders attending the Assembly on behalf of environment and energy agencies, as well as delegates representing civil society and the private sector, represent over 150 countries at this year’s assembly.

Delivering prepared remarks, IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin welcomed delegates by saying, “An unprecedented transformation of our energy system is underway. Plummeting costs and rapid innovation have spurred investments that are positioning renewable energy solutions at the centre of energy discussion today. It is no longer a question of whether or if, but of how, we can accelerate this change in order to move towards a more global, sustainable and affordable low-carbon energy future.”

The energetic day started with IRENA’s Assembly launching several clean energy-oriented policy discussions, which focused on the latest trends, stakeholder alignment and strategic recommendations.

Later in the afternoon in Masdar City, some of us within Masdar had the opportunity to listen to discussions between the ministries of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on strengthening energy cooperation. The KSA is one country of focus during the entire ADSW, as bolstering its renewables portfolio is part of the country’s 2030 Vision.

It is gratifying to see most of the world’s countries here in Abu Dhabi and focused on finding ways to ensure sustainable development for this and future generations. We have to act fast. Going back to Prime Minister Puna’s remarks, the fact is that low-lying island states such as the Cook Islands will be the first to experience the impacts of climate change if the world does not accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and clean technologies. The question, however, is how to best utilize scarce resources and boost investment, especially in the world’s low- and middle-income countries.

A lot of work lies ahead if the world is truly going to achieve the global energy transformation that society needs. Nevertheless, it is rewarding to see the convergence of public-private interests, grounded optimism and long-term considerations underlying calculated bets on commercially viable renewable projects and energy diversification strategies. Despite two and a half years of low fossil fuel prices, we see the price of renewables reaching parity, or even becoming more cost-effective, when compared to hydrocarbons. The enthusiasm evident at the IRENA Assembly shows that what many have said is impossible is occurring now: renewables are scaling up in developed and developing alike, and are expanding economic opportunities across the globe while reducing carbon emissions.

The Assembly has helped kick off what is looking to be the largest and most event-filled ADSW ever, and it is exciting to be a part of it. We are expecting over 37,000 attendees to walk through the exhibits and attend the various roundtables and panels at the ADNEC convention centre in Abu Dhabi.

Even though the IRENA Assembly concludes today, the discussions will still be ongoing. Follow the discussion on Twitter, with the hashtags #IRENA7A and #WorldIn2026.

Image credit: IRENA/Flickr


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