26th World Energy Congress: Dr Angela Wilkinson Opening Address

23rd April 2024

News Article

26th World Energy Congress: Dr Angela Wilkinson Opening Address 

As prepared for delivery at the Opening Ceremony of the 26th World Energy Congress 2024

Excellencies, Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues and Friends

We reconvene in Rotterdam in the spirit of visionary and practical energy leadership and on the eve of our 100th birthday.

For a century the World Energy Council community has convened power for common good.

Just as our founding members intended in 1924, we meet today as an open and respectful community of peers to showcase progress, align diverse needs and interests, and drive forward our shared responsibility for worldwide energy developments.

We are here, to get on with the job of redesigning energy for people and planet.

We have four days to make sure the 26th World Energy Congress makes a meaningful difference. Every one of us in this room today can make change happen.

The phrase ‘energy transition’ has become one of the most frequently used, politically loaded and polarising phrases in recent years. It is also a source of confusion and misunderstanding.

For many people, energy and electricity are synonymous. Of course, we know that’s not the case. Energy leadership has done a lousy job on energy literacy.

We also know that today’s energy systems are not fit for purpose.

The urgency to decarbonise all energy uses – not just suppliers - and secure more energy for sustainable development is crystal clear.

Managing successful global energy transitions – plural - is essential, not straightforward and can’t be done all in one go or by one nation or network alone.

As we embark on the next four days, I ask you to keep in mind that what got us here will not get us to where we need to go.

The uncomfortable news is that there is no one size fits all solution, no quick and easy fix. Complex coordination challenges cannot be ignored or fully resolved even with AI and other technology innovations.

In redesigning energy systems for people and planet, there are critical choices about how we work together and who is at the table. Success depends on the capabilities of whole societies to manage energy in a new era of globally inclusive, climate resilient, sustainable development.

The good news is that new ways to collaborate and cooperate are emerging. There is increasing recognition that more people and diverse communities need to better understand their roles and choices as the world prepares for a more demanding energy future.

This is a momentous occasion to direct attention to wider and wiser energy uses and the people at the heart of energy transitions. Humanising energy is our call to action.

We champion this vision to make faster, fairer and more far-reaching energy transitions happen in all regions, and to deliver another 100 years of impact in energy for the benefit of humanity.

This is Congress. When people get together, there are unexpected solutions that arise from the greater ingenuity and even wisdom that emerges.

We have brought to the table cities, women, future energy leaders, value chains and vulnerable communities alongside Ministers and business leaders. YOU are the essential agents of change.

We bring the diverse perspectives and experiences that are needed to make change happen in ways that progress the many and differing energy transitions taking place around the world.

Let’s remember that not everyone’s energy transitions are being made from a position of comfort and convenience with access to modern energy. In most of Africa, energy is an existential issue.

As the oldest and preeminent world energy community, we remain committed to promoting the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people.

We recognise that our ability to persist also depends on our willingness to adapt. We are embracing the opportunities to evolve and modernise to drive impact at speed and scale.

We are advancing our practical World Energy Trilemma to reconnect the dots between energy security, equity and sustainability, and we are connecting nations and networks to accelerate energy transitions with justice and resilience.

We are changing the world by promoting intergenerational leadership in redesigning energy systems for billions of better lives and a healthy planet. It’s great to see such a strong Future Energy Leader presence at this Congress.

100 years ago our founder, Daniel Nicol Dunlop, had a vision for change. In a world emerging from conflict and pandemic, and facing economic crisis, he recognised that there is no civilisation without energy.

100 years on, the future of energy – and the engines of progress – still require radically new forms of international collaboration to ensure equitable and sustainable access for everyone on the planet.

With this shared responsibility, it is my great pleasure to welcome you, our global community, on this Energy and Earth Day, to the World Energy Council’s Centennial Congress. Each of you is a change maker and I ask you to step up and embrace this role.

Together, we will shape the next century of World Energy for people and planet."

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