Bohol hosts 34-nation forum

The province of Bohol will stand as the proud host to a global conference to be attended by high-ranking officials and foreign ministers from 34 countries in Asia starting tomorrow, August 7, until Thursday.

Much bigger than the 10-nation-member ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) gathering here held last April this year, the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), with Bohol as the perfect host, thereby bearing the reputation of the Republic of the Philippines, poses a greater challenge for local officials, the military, police, and the Department of Energy (DOE), the lead government agency running the entire event.

Bohol Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, at the Kita ug ang Gobernador program Friday, said hosting the event is a “huge honor for Bohol and the Boholano people.”

“We thank the DOE for choosing the province of Bohol as the venue for this gathering of 34 nations from Asia,” Chatto said. “This event is a lot bigger than the ASEAN summit we had last April.”

Chatto said the decision of the DOE in choosing Bohol as the venue for the international conference is a testament to the enormous trust placed by the national government and participating nations on the province and its officials.

The countries comprise the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), which gathering at the Be Grand Resort in Panglao island on August 7-10, will focus on energy security, sustainability and resiliency.

DOE Sec. Alfonso Cusi said “the task to build a stronger and more resilient energy system lies ahead” and “our hosting of the ACD in Bohol will help us learn more and do more.”

Cusi himself recognized the Bohol’s initiatives spearheaded by Chatto in addressing the concerns of emergency, interim and permanent power thru the Bohol Energy Development Advisory Group (BEDAG).

Cusi added, “The hosting of ACD gives greater emphasis on the evolving global developments concerning energy and the environment and the energy-water-food nexus.”

“These topics are the key areas of cooperation where Asian nations can consolidate and expand efforts to ensure a secure, affordable, sustainable and resilient energy supplies in the region,” Cusi emphasized.

Established in June 2002, the ACD is a gathering of Asian countries to promote interdependence among Asian members in all areas of cooperation, one of which is on energy.

This year’s ACD Conference will focus on energy security, sustainability and resiliency as well as energy’s relation to water and food.

The conference aims to gather energy policy makers in the region to discuss latest developments in their respective countries, and encourage consultations in identifying new cooperation initiatives that may be implemented in the ACD region.

Specifically, the Conference aims to promote information exchange and the sharing of best practices on energy policies, plans and programs among ACD Member States.

It will also be an avenue to drive investments in the following priority areas: (1) Renewable Energy and Clean Energy; (2) Natural Gas as Transition Fuel; (3) Low Carbon Future Thru Clean Energy Technologies; (4) Emerging Role of Nuclear Energy; (5) Energy Connectivity and Market Integration; and (6) The Role of the Younger Generation on the Future of Energy Development.

Participating countries are expected to share information and experiences on building a resilient energy sector, especially among high-risk countries on the adverse effects of changing weather patterns and disasters.

The other objectives of the ACD, Cusi said, are to expand trade and financial markets within Asia, and ultimately transform the Asian continent into One Asian Community.

The Philippine DOE’s hosting of ACD gives greater emphasis on the evolving global developments concerning energy and the environment and the energy-water-food nexus.

These topics are the key areas of cooperation where Asian nations can consolidate and expand efforts to ensure a secure, affordable, sustainable and resilient energy supplies in the region.

The conference aims to gather energy policy makers in the region to discuss latest developments in their respective countries, and encourage consultations in identifying new cooperation initiatives that may be implemented in the ACD region.

The other objectives of the ACD are to expand trade and financial markets within Asia, and ultimately transform the Asian continent into One Asian Community.

WELL-PLAN

Dir. Carmencita Bariso of the DOE Energy Policy and Planning Bureau and Dir. Grace Villamayor of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) met with Chatto here the other week on the penultimate hosting arrangement.

They also joined Chatto during his regular interaction with the local media at the Governor’s Mansion on Friday.

Officials and experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have been invited to the conference.

To be attended by ministers and other high-profile delegates, the ACD conference will also have “associated meetings,” during which the “first East Asia energy forum” will happen, Bariso said.

The current ACD members are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Turkey and Nepal.

Bohol’s hosting will be historic as it will likewise be the Philippines’ maiden hosting of the ADC, which promotes interdependence among Asian members in various areas of cooperation, one of which is energy.

FIRST OF ITS KIND CONTINENT FORUM

Initiated by Thailand and inaugurated in 2002, the ACD is a continent-wide forum, the first of its kind in Asia.

More specifically, the ACD aims to constitute the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian community without duplicating other organizations, like the ASEAN, or creating a bloc against others.

The ASEAN or Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the Philippines is also a member, held its highly-successful trade, commerce and industry meetings in Bohol last April.

Sources outside the DOE believed Bohol’s impressive ASEAN Meeting hosting must have helped seal the decision to also hold here the bigger ADC conference.

A key ADC principle is to consolidate Asian strengths and fortify Asia’s competitiveness by maximizing the diversity and rich resources evident in the world’s largest continent.

The core values of the ADC include positive thinking, voluntarism, openness, respect for diversity, and comfort level of member countries.

Since its inception, the ACD has rapidly developed in two dimensions—dialogue and projects.

On the project dimension, many countries have currently proposed to be prime movers in 20 cooperation areas, such as energy, agriculture, biotechnology, tourism, poverty alleviation, information technology development, e-education and finance.

ESSENCE OF ADC TO BOHOL

The conference will gather energy policy makers to discuss latest developments in their respective countries and encourage consultations in identifying new cooperation initiatives for execution.

This what the BEDAG, now reputed to be another Bohol best practice, has essentially been doing, plus the aggressive participation of the energy industry keyplayers themselves.

Here earlier when he graced the 163rd Bohol Day on July 22, DOE Usec. Felix William Fuentebella congratulated Chatto for creating the BEDAG.

Fuentebella said Cusi, in 2016, already had in mind Bohol to host the 34-country dialogue and is materializing the plan despite the impact here of the Leyte power facilities’ destruction by the earthquake there.

The ADC conference will be essential to the local setting since the forum aims to promote information exchanges and the sharing of best practices on energy policies, plans and programs among the member states.

It will be an avenue to drive investments in the priority areas of renewable and clean energy, natural gas as transition fuel, low carbon future thru clean technologies, emerging role of nuclear energy, energy connectivity and market integration, and role of the younger generation in future energy development.

Chatto said that thru the BEDAG, Bohol is bridging the present-future energy gap between for a reliable, sustainable and resilient energy condition in anticipation of the development upsurge.

ADC delegates are expected to share information and experiences in building a resilient energy sector, especially among high-risk countries on the adverse effects of the changing weather patterns and disasters.

While focusing on energy security, sustainability and resiliency, the first Philippine-hosted ADC conference venued in Bohol will delve as well into energy’s relation to water and food. (with a report from Ven C. Arigo)

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