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ECLAC/OAS: Southern Cone Regional Workshop Calls for Diversifying the Energy Matrix

Authorities and Experts Discuss Energy Security and Integration in the Region 11 July 2008: Delegates to the Southern Cone Regional Workshop on Sustainable

Energy, which took place on 11 July 2008, in Santiago, Chile, identified

ensuring equal access to energy sources, diversifying the energy matrix, and

advancing towards regional energy alliances as some of the region's key priorities.

The Workshop was the first of a series of five agreed upon during the

Inter-American Meeting of National Authorities and Experts on Energy for

Sustainable Development, which took place in March 2008 in Washington, DC, US.

The event was organized by the Department of Sustainable Development of the Organization

of American States (OAS) in collaboration with the Economic Commission for

Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and aimed to increase the

sustainability of the energy sector by enhancing cooperation between the

countries of the region. In her opening speech, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia

Bárcena explained that the countries of the region are analyzing the options to

responding to the food crisis and the surge in oil prices, noting that the

price increase had the benefit of providing an incentive to innovate and make

the transition to clean technologies that have a lesser impact on the

environment and climate change. She identified the need to evaluate the

potential of biofuels, solar energy and other renewables as one of the most

important challenges of the sub-region's energy analysis. She specified that

the competition between biofuels and food production depended on the origin of  the energy source and outlined five key energy

priorities of the region: efficiency to reduce energy intensity; equity to

increase electricity distribution; diversification to contribute to the global

efforts to mitigate climate change through the development of, or the

elimination of the obstacles to, renewable energies and address

adaptation needs; investment in infrastructure to produce and transport energy;

and research, development and technology transfer. OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza stressed the need to review

energy generation and consumption patterns, and promote a diversified energy

matrix. He also highlighted the benefits of large-scale renewable energy

systems. The next workshop will be held in the Bahamas on 23 July 2008. [ECLAC press release, 11 July 2008] [ECLAC Executive Secretary's speech (in Spanish)]