The COVID-19 pandemic recovery could mark a turning point, and could even be an accelerator to align collective actions toward achieving the global sustainable development and climate goals. Economic stimulus packages being developed by governments worldwide provide the opportunity to promote investments in clean energy, smart buildings, green and public transport, and a whole range of other interventions that will help to slow climate change.


As the world copes with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and pursues recovery plans to rebuild and invigorate economies, the ACEF Opening Plenary aims to:

  1. Present an overview of the status of energy transition in Asia and the Pacific.
  2. Look into the challenges facing Asia and the Pacific countries as they pursue green recovery strategies.
  3. Discuss the possibility of the region achieving carbon neutrality by mid-century, and its implications.


Time (Manila) Activities
10:30-10:35 a.m. Session Moderator

  • Stephen S. Peters, Senior Energy Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Opening Video
The energy landscape showing the issues, challenges, and prospects in accelerating the low-carbon transition in Asia and the Pacific.

10:35-10:55 a.m. Introductory Remarks

  • Bambang Susantono, Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, ADB
  • Chang-Seob Kim, President and Chief Executive Officer, Korea Energy Agency
10:55-11:05 a.m. Welcome Remarks

  • Masatsugu Asakawa, President, ADB

President Asakawa will introduce the theme of ACEF 2021, and will highlight ADB’s commitment to better align its operations with global climate and development goals.

11:05 -11:30 a.m. Keynote Messages

Uniting the World to Tackle Climate Change: The Importance of the Clean Energy Transition

  • Alok Sharma, President Designate, 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26)

Leading Together: Collective Action towards Sustainable Energy

  • Karen Freeman, Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia, United States Agency for International Development

Ms. Freeman will give a message on the importance of working together to achieve our clean energy transition goals of reducing emissions, sustainably developing economies, and increasing climate resilience across Asia and beyond.

11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Panel Discussion:
Net Zero Emissions by Mid-21st Century—Is it Possible for Asia and the Pacific?

An increasing number of countries are committing to carbon neutrality by mid-century. Achieving carbon neutrality requires concrete long-term road maps, and time-bound actions. Injecting green development into COVID-19 recovery plans and stimulus packages have been encouraged. But, more aggressive efforts beyond the COVID-19 pandemic recovery packages will have to be instituted to pave a realistic pathway toward carbon neutrality.

Panel Moderator:

  • Yongping Zhai, Chief of Energy Sector Group, ADB


  • Li Junfeng, Chair of Academic Committee of the Center, Former Director General, National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation
  • Hongpeng Liu, Director, Energy Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
  • Magdalena Kouneva, Director General, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership
  • Reihana Mohideen, Principal Advisor at Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne