Media Center



  May 31, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama—The Organization of American States (OAS) views the prospects of a “New Energy Order” as holding great promise for a world with less poverty, more prosperity, more social equity and a cleaner environment, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin told an influential private sector group today.

Speaking to corporate CEOs, senior executives and entrepreneurs at the Private Sector Forum in Panama City—ahead of Sunday's opening of the annual session of the OAS General Assembly—the Assistant Secretary General challenged them to develop partnerships and to work with the OAS “to contribute to a New Energy Order that is effective and sustainable.” Panama is hosting this year's General Assembly, which brings together the Foreign Ministers of the Americas for their annual meeting, under the central theme of "Energy for Sustainable Development."

Among others addressing the inauguration of the IV OAS Private Sector Forum today were Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry, Alejandro Ferrer; the Chairman of the event’s Organizing Committee and Vice President of the Private Sector of the Americas, Enrique Arturo de Obarrio; and the President of COPA Airlines of Panama, Stanley Motta. The three-day event is being organized by the Private Sector of the Americas in conjunction with the OAS and Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the theme “Energy for Development in the Americas: The Role of Public-Private Partnerships.”

Asserting that the OAS is “committed to doing all that is possible to advance the progress of this hemisphere towards a sustainable energy future,” the Assistant Secretary General said that as “forward thinkers,” the business leaders should consider their efforts as “a strategic investment in the search for cleaner, effective, renewable and more energy-efficient technologies.”

In his address, entitled “Toward a New Energy order in the Americas,” Assistant Secretary General Ramdin sounded the call for support to the smallest and most vulnerable economies, “to alleviate the deleterious impact of high energy costs on development efforts.” He also hailed the Private Sector Forum as one way to advance partnerships between business leaders and governments, and pointed to potential benefits of the Brazil-United States agreements on biofuels.

Haiti is one of the countries expected to benefit from that agreement, Ramdin noted, citing trade and investment as key components of Haitian President René Préval’s vision for job creation, business development, economic growth and poverty reduction. In that regard, Ambassador Ramdin spoke about a Trade and Investment Forum provisionally scheduled for October 22 and 23, 2007, in the Haitian capital city, Port-au-Prince.

"The current energy challenges being experienced by countries, whether developed or developing, have prompted almost universal recognition that current production and consumption patterns are unsustainable," Ramdin stressed. He warned, further, that “a business-as-usual approach will leave behind a decayed planet with polluted air, vanishing coastal settlements, rampant floods, lengthy periods of drought and storms, and hurricanes of increasing frequency and ferocity.”

Ramdin commended the business forum organizers for adopting for their own discussions on the central theme of this year's OAS General Assembly—"Energy for Sustainable Development." He said the topic presents “a unique and important opportunity” for all the hemisphere's nations to meet at different levels—governmental, non-governmental, and private sector—“to discuss this critical issue of energy which affects every aspect of our lives.”

Given the crucial nature of energy, it has become an increasingly topical issue, permeating public discourse, the Assistant Secretary General remarked. He noted that the Private Sector Forum, now in its fourth years on the margins of the OAS General Assembly, is taking place “at a time of unprecedented debate over the prospects of a sustainable future for the global energy sector.”

Also, in noting the growing concerns over carbon emissions, including from airline travel, the Assistant Secretary General reported that through the OAS-affiliated Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), the Organization had “neutralized” carbon emissions associated with the participants’ travel to Panama by purchasing “carbon credits” produced by a biomass energy project in Brazil.

Reference: GA-03-07