The Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) is a biennial, global and multi-stakeholder forum. The complex challenges connected to sustainable energy need to be addressed in a holistic manner. The VEF therefore brings together all sectors of society and participants from all over the world, thereby paving the way for tangible partnerships on the ground.
Thanks to the expertise of its co-organizing institutions, the anchoring in the energy-hub Vienna, and the mutually beneficial networking with other key energy initiatives and institutions, the VEF has successfully spearheaded the global debate on sustainable energy for inclusive development.
The VEF was born in 2008 of a joint initiative by the Austrian Government, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, with the aim of exploring how energy can contribute to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Two insights formed the backdrop to this decision: firstly, in order to create a sustainable economy, it is necessary to transform energy systems; and secondly, there are strong inter-linkages between energy supply and virtually every aspect of inclusive and sustainable development.
The mandate of the VEF is to provide a platform for debate on practical solutions to these challenges. The first three Forums focused on three different perspectives on this discussion:
• In 2009, in the context of the unfolding financial crisis, the Forum looked at an integrated energy agenda beyond 2020 under the theme “Towards an integrated energy agenda beyond 2020: Securing sustainable policies and investments”. The most central of the Forum’s six key recommendations foresaw the creation of an Energy Development Goal, which aimed to achieve universal energy access by 2030.
• The theme selected for the VEF 2011, “Energy for all – Time for action”, focused on the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, which had developed between the VEFs in 2009 and 2011. It aimed to generate tangible results that would lead to action on the ground. Thanks to the Forum, the 2030 energy goals of universal access, energy intensity reduction and a global renewable energy mix obtained more substance and started gaining momentum.
• The VEF 2013, with the theme “One Year after Rio+20: The energy future we want,” addressed the topic of sustainable energy in the context of negotiating the Post-2015 Development Agenda. It contributed to the advancement of the Post-2015 Development Framework, and clearly positioned sustainable energy therein.