Green Energy and Resilience Essential to Climate-Smart Growth

  • world economic forumNatural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan are the “new normal” for South-East Asia
  • Promoting economic growth will require more resilient urban planning and clean energy policies
  • Private-sector innovation is needed in insurance, energy storage and urban transport in particular
  • For more information on the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2014:   

Metro Manila, Philippines 23 May 2014 – “Haiyan is the new normal” has become a popular saying in the Philippines since the devastating typhoon of November 2013. South-East Asia faces unique climate-related challenges, given its vulnerability to extreme weather and rising sea levels. “It is obvious that we will have more severe and more frequent disasters in the region,” Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank, Manila, told participants at a session on climate at the World Economic Forum on East Asia. Fostering growth in this environment will require new approaches to a number of social challenges including energy consumption, urban planning and tourism.

In the past, climate conversations have been confined to countries’ environment ministries and within environmental advocacy groups. However, the effects of an anticipated 3°C to 4°C of global warming are so pervasive that they require a broader governmental, private sector and civil society approach. “What we’re desperate to do is to bring the conversation out of the ministries of environment alone and put it on the table of the ministry of finance, planning, development, and beyond,” said Rachel Kyte, Vice-President and Special Envoy, Climate Change, World Bank.

One of the unique challenges for South-East Asia is the concentration of urban populations along coastlines. Cities such as Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta are the engines of growth for their nations, but they are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

In order to promote economic growth with these climate-related challenges, the region needs new approaches to energy policies and consumption. Fuel subsidies have prolonged the usage of energy inefficient technologies at the expense of investment in renewable energy. That situation is starting to change. “Green energy is starting to make economic sense,” said Kim Dong Kwan, Managing Director, Hanwha Group, Republic of Korea, particularly given the long-term horizons of these investments.

There is also a tremendous role for the private sector both in lobbying governments and in advancing new, climate-smart business models. “The pressure and the change are within the investor and within the private sector,” said Yolanda Kakabadse, President, WWF International.

Technological innovation in energy storage is one area where businesses can play a major role. “If you could develop an incredibly, unimaginably high-performance storage battery, you’d be able to solve almost 90% of energy issues on the Earth”, said Atsutoshi Nishida, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation.

But breakthroughs in green-energy technology will not be enough to mitigate the effects of existing climate change. Micro-insurance, efficient urban transport and innovations in disaster-resilient construction techniques are areas in which businesses can play a leading role in improving the region’s ability to weather the adverse effects of climate change and take advantage of climate-smart opportunities.

The 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia, hosted with the support of the Government of the Philippines, will take place in Manila on 21-23 May 2014. The theme of the meeting is Leveraging Growth for Equitable Progress.

The Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum on East Asia are: Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, President, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Switzerland; Takeshi Niinami, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director, Lawson, Japan; Atsutoshi Nishida, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation, Japan and James T. Riady, Chief Executive Officer, Lippo Group, Indonesia.

The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations ( ).