My ambition is to make conversations inclusive, inter-generational, and inspiring

My ambition is to make conversations inclusive, inter-generational, and inspiring

6 june 2024 0000

This Forum is of interest to me personally as it brings a diversity of regional voice into the global energy conversation. I have come here from the World Energy Congress. We are designing energy for people and planet. That’s our 100th energy congress, while this is the 29th Baku Energy Forum. So, I think, there is a great set of participants here. My personal ambition is that we will see more inclusivity in terms of inter-generational dialogue. That’s my ambition, that’s what I am trying to do at the World Energy Council (WEC). I encourage the Baku conveners as well to think about metrics of inclusivity and inter-generational dialogue – the world’s future energy leaders want their seats at the table now, the young professionals have a view. That’s what I would think of, you know, we talk a lot to ourselves all the time. Are we really engaging the other parts of society, the new talent that is coming through in this Forum? The future energy leaders of WEC usually have to have between 10 and 15 years of experience. They are the next generation of decision-makers. We are trying to solve problems today and to develop solutions that other people have to implement. They might need a little view of what they think about the solutions that we are going to hand over to them. That’s all I mean. It is not criticism, it’s just we could all try to do a little bit better in that. I’ve seen a lot of people who are, I would say, at least 40 years and above on most of these panels. Some of the ministers of climate and energy are now under 40. So, where is the voice of the energy leadership that matches that generational call to action?

For the last 20 years, we have equipped the world with a world energy trilemma approach which is really a way of measuring your performance on energy transitions from where you are starting to the direction we are heading in. So, we are all talking about the road map and the mechanisms that we are going to use to drive forward, but when you are on a journey you have to know where you are and whether you are doing well or not, right? So, you need a navigation system. That’s what I was talking about in the morning session: how do we get more countries at this COP29 to get involved in using the navigation system that we have provided the world with for the past 20 years.

Decisions are very rarely made at forums. What we tend to get is initiatives launched because decisions have been made before we come or we get things launched afterwards because people meet one another here and that catalyzes new conversations that lead to some action. It’s a dialogue forum where we exchange perspectives and hopefully identify some new opportunities that we weren’t seeing before and that catalyzes the collaboration that didn’t exist before, and that creates a new solution that leads to a set of decisions about how we move it forward.

I think, there is a common set of messages coming out of this forum’s first session such as ‘there is no single transition pathway – there are multiple pathways’, and ‘we have to be the sweet spot if between pragmatism and progressivity’, ‘we need to drop the finger-pointing or the ideological discourses to get on with the job, as it is too important to theorize about or to be wishful thinkers of’. And I think that the other piece that we are hearing is that ‘cooperation is really important, but we also know how we got here isn’t going to get us to where we need to be. We need new types of cooperation between different regions, around different energy corridors and pathways and zones. The two things that I haven’t heard but that I actually do think important is that we need to drop the colour prejudice, it’s like a form of energy racism, in effect, that was I think what the Hungarian minister was trying to say: it’s just we cannot cope with it; they’ve got to do something real. So, on the other end, what I would like to hear is how do we take the story of the energy future from Wall Street as we tend to talk about it in technical language and in jargon, but how do we take it back as an inspiring story for societies to main street.

That’s my piece. When we first started on the journey to modern energy access back in Baku in the 1860s when we had the first well, what was the energy there? It wasn’t like the world was going to end, there was excitement that people’s life would be better. We have sort of lost that. I would love to see that come back. Forums tend to be a lot of technocratic conversations, 45 thousand feet. But that is my ambition as the Secretary General of WEC to change the conversation to make it inclusive, inter-generational, and inspiring

Angela Wilkinson

World Energy Council

Secretary General and CEO