Media Center



  June 2, 2007

PANAMA CITY, Panama—The President of Panama, Martín Torrijos, and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today underscored the vital role that the private sector and private-public partnerships play in promoting growth, increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in the hemisphere.

Speaking to the IV OAS Private Sector Forum, taking place within the framework of the 37th OAS General Assembly, Insulza noted that in recent years this meeting has provided an important opportunity to exchange opinions with representatives from the private sector of the region, whose focus this time will be on the principle energy challenges facing the nations of the Americas.

Insulza said the solutions to these challenges “require the participation of the private sector and its creative and innovative capacity,” adding that therefore this three-day meeting “constitutes a strong signal of commitment to the search for solutions that guarantee a prosperous future for our peoples.”

The Secretary General shared his views with the business leaders regarding the social, economic, security and environmental dimensions of the energy situation, in order to contribute to the participants’ discussion in the private forum taking place. The recommendations that emerge from their deliberations will be considered later by the region’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the OAS General Assembly.

Insulza noted that energy consumption estimates show that by the year 2025, developing countries will increase their energy consumption by 91%, a much higher pace than the 33% growth projected for developed nations. “These statistics show the urgent need to adopt sustainable energy policies for our countries’ progress,” the Secretary General said.

He also emphasized that although the hemisphere has an “extraordinary” abundance of energy resources, some 50 million people—especially the poorest—lack access to electricity. “The consequences for families that struggle to survive in a dignified manner are unacceptable,” Insulza stated. “The challenge for our countries will be to ensure the promotion of sustainable energy policies as our populations overcome poverty, as we all expect they will.”

The Secretary General also talked about the environment, underscoring the consensus that exists among all the countries of the region regarding the urgent need to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change through cooperation. He highlighted, as well, the trend of developing modern technologies to promote clean energy.

“I’m sure the Ministers who will attend the General Assembly will speak with one voice on the need to promote the alternatives presented by renewable energy and energy efficiency, which offer better means not only to approach the issue of climate change, but also to optimize energy security through diversification, meeting the needs of our peoples,” concluded Insulza.

In opening the event, President Martín Torrijos said that “the OAS business forums, as such, speak to the evolution of international relations in the last few years.” He said that for a head of state, it is difficult to conceive of traveling abroad today without having an exchange with the business sector of the host country.

The Panamanian leader explained how his government is working to modernize and develop the country in energy-related matters, noting that “now there are clear investment rules, transparency in public administration and an effort to facilitate and promote private enterprise.”

“Today we can talk with our feet on the ground about major integration projects, about the logistical transformation for the Americas and about our contribution for the region to be more competitive and prosperous,” stated President Torrijos.

The Private Sector Forum brings together business leaders, experts on energy and economic issues, as well as high-level public officials from around the hemisphere. The representatives from the private sector will provide contributions and recommendations on the following issues: “Diversification and Conservation of Energy Sources—Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Bioenergy Promotion”; “Energy Integration and Cooperation”; and “Biofuels as an Alternative for the Transportation Sector.” Their recommendations will be presented to the OAS member states on Sunday June 3, prior to the opening of the annual General Assembly.

Reference: GA-06-07