ABU DHABI, UAE: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has been selected to house the secretariat of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), marking the first time an international organization has chosen a Middle East city for its headquarters.
IRENA will be located in Abu Dhabi's Masdar City, the world's first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city powered entirely by renewable energy.
In securing the location for IRENA the UAE faced stiff competition from Germany, Austria and Denmark, all recognized leaders in renewable energy. Since the establishment of IRENA in January, the candidate nations have been locked in a hard-fought competition.
However, the UAE's ability to serve as a bridge between the developing and developed world; the allure of the world's first carbon neutral city; and a generous commitment of financial and political support won over a significant following among member states of the new organisation.
"This is a great achievement for the United Arab Emirates, but more importantly it is a testament to the strength of the relationships we have established throughout our campaign. It was very important for us to offer IRENA a value proposition that would help the agency achieve its goals by engaging with developing and developed nations alike," said His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates.
"The UAE is committed to working with each of the member countries and meeting the immediate needs of IRENA to ensure its successful launch," added the Foreign Minister.
The UAE's bid for IRENA's headquarters is the first time the country has engaged in such an ambitious endeavor on the international stage. "This has been a tremendous educational experience, and has strengthened bonds with our IRENA co-members that will allow us to collectively advance the benefits of renewable energy on all continents," said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar and a key architect of the UAE's bid.
He added that the efforts by the UAE to encourage non-signatory nations to join IRENA not only strengthened the UAE bid but also strengthened the organization itself, which grew from 75 member states at the time of its foundation in January to over 130 countries to date.
As part of its commitment to IRENA, the UAE offered to support the agency with a grant of $136 million over a six year period, while also covering all operational costs in perpetuity. Moreover, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development created a special endowment of up to US $50 million annually to be used for loans in support of renewable energy projects in the developing world.
The UAE bid attracted wide spread international support by key figures, including Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri, Nobel laureate and Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC).