Austria partners with UNIDO to boost sustainable energy in Central America

VIENNA, 28 November 2017 - On the margins of the 17th session of the General Conference, Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, Deputy to the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and Robert Zeiner, Head of International Programmes at the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), signed an agreement on initial funding for the first operational phase of the new Central American Integration System Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SICREEE).

Over the last few months, consultations to determine the design of the Centre were carried out, based on a mandate of the Central American Integration System (SICA) Council of Ministers, UNIDO and SICA's General Secretariat (SG-SICA), in close co-ordination with Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The Centre will focus on cross-border interventions in policy implementation, capacity development, knowledge management, and the promotion of investment and entrepreneurship.

Werner Vargas, Executive Director of SG-SICA said: "This is another crucial milestone in the process to make this regional sustainable energy centre a reality for our region."

The signing ceremony was attended by Paulina Maria Franceschini Navarro, Permanent Representative of Panama in her capacity as Pro Tempore President of SICA. She thanked UNIDO and the Government of Austria for the support which will help to reach regional sustainable energy and climate change objectives. Moreover, she welcomed a stronger involvement of UNIDO in the region.

UNIDO's Kuniyoshi said, "This is another good example of our fruitful partnership with Austria. The 17th General Conference of UNIDO and this event also mark an important milestone in reinforcing the cooperation with Central American countries on key issues such as sustainable energy, the circular economy and the promotion of entrepreneurship for youth employment."

In his statement, ADA's Zeiner highlighted "the importance of regional cooperation to accelerate the achievement of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals" and welcomed the SICREEE as a new member of the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC). Mr. Zeiner also highlighted the cooperation potential with the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) operating in Barbados.

Alfonso de las Casas, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Spain to the International Organizations in Vienna, expressed support for the new Centre and underlined that Spain has also been supporting various other centres of the global network.