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GECF 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner - Opening remarks by Secretary General

 Vienna, Austria

Dear Excellencies, ministers, ambassadors, academics, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

First, I would like to welcome you all to this venue here today, to celebrate with us. I use the word ‘to celebrate’ because that is what we are practically doing today, not only marking the 10 productive years that have passed since the Forum’s 2008 establishment , but to honor 10 years of enlightening collaboration.

I would like to reaffirm that I don’t think there is a better place to focus on collaboration than the city of Vienna, which is more than a city, it is a spirit, and home to some of the world’s most meaningful organizations, including 15 UN offices, the OPEC Secretariat and a wide variety of other international entities and institutions. From a natural gas point of view, Austria as a country proves to be a natural gas hub of paramount significance, with Vienna as its beating heart. 
In this light, I would like to welcome you all for an evening of togetherness, entertainment and inspired conversation.

First, I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the GECF’s milestones and main achievements. The Forum started from humble beginnings at a meeting of ministers held in 2001. Initially, it was a collaboration of nations with common goals and concerns, but the developments in the natural gas market called for a more formal Intergovernmental Organization with a permanent infrastructure.

On the 23rd of December 2008, the relevant intergovernmental agreement was signed. Since its inception, the GECF has transformed into a credible and widely recognised international organisation. We have since conducted 4 GECF Gas Summits in Doha, Moscow, Tehran and Santa Cruz, Bolivia on the level of Heads of State and Government. The 5th Gas Summit is to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Ginea. The Gas Summit provides an opportunity for our leaders to meet and discuss transparantly the most essential issues related to energy. Last year’s Summit in Bolivia reconfirmed the GECF’s priorities – our principles, such as the sovereign and absolute rights of Member Countries over their natural gas resources and the recognition of  the essential role of Natural Gas as a clean and reliable energy source for sustainable development and in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Until now, there have been 20 Ministerial Meetings, the last of which took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in November. At the this last meeting, the role of natural gas in human wellbeing and in the reduction of greenhouse effects as well as the need for close cooperation was reconfirmed. During this last meeting we also welcomed our new Member Angola.

In the past 10 years, we have grown into a global energy coalition that plays a crucial role in the stability of natural gas markets on the basis that our members control 70% of proven global gas reserves and 45% of global gas production. 

However, there is another dimension to the GECF. As an organization, we actively participate in and contribute to the ongoing dialogue on sustainable development and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation.
This, in fact, reinforces the need for international cooperation on matters concerning a more effective and flexible use of gas resources.
And as a consequence, we believe that the GECF should be seen as the reliable partner in the road towards sustainability and energy security.
The Forum has a five-year working plan, enabling us to conduct our work in a guided and orderly manner.
To accomplish our ambitious plans as an organization, we have created a wide variety of tools and instruments. I will just name a few, one of them being the Global Gas Outlook 2040 – our flagship publication- of which we formally presented our second edition today. Alongside our GGO, we have our Monthly and Annual Short Term Gas Market Reports, the Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB), which includes vital primary-sourced data from our member countries. The mentioned papers provide updates on gas matters worldwide. They cover commentary and analysis of major developments impacting the gas market in terms of macroeconomics, natural gas supply and demand, rig counts, shipping activities, storage, natural gas, LNG trade and so on.

The Forum’s data exchange mechanism through its strategic partnership with the Joint Organizations Data Initiative for Gas (JODI-gas), has contributed to establishing the GECF as a trusted partner in the commitment to data reliability and accuracy in the energy sector.
On a similar note, I would also like to mention as well the joining of the GECF to the IEA-IEF-OPEC joint program of work on energy outlooks, a major recognition of the work carried out The Forum over the past years.

One of our landmark developments is the establishment of the GECF Gas Research Institute in Algeria – which is currently being implemented in close coordination with GECF Members. It will serve as a platform to develop research and to share best practices in technology and business arrangements.

We have obtained further community recognition through our participation in the Natural Gas Research Program of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.  

Climate change is an undeniable reality, and if we want to manage its impact, we need to implement balanced and efficient approaches. Achieving a sustainable energy transition is an effort that can only work if every all nations and stakeholders play their part. We should move ahead each with our own individual responsibilities, but with the same goal in mind. Just a few days ago at COP24, the GECF was accepted as an Observer to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Suffice to say that I am beyond proud to be part of such a meaningful and successful organization. Thanking this opportunity, I’d like to express my cordial gratitude to GECF Ministers, our Governments for their unwavering support and to our partners for their readiness to collaborate. We appreciate that very much.

Earlier today, we got the opportunity to speak at length about the advantages of natural gas and I have never been more convinced that the work we are doing at GECF is meaningful and necessary. Necessary not only to promote natural gas as the fuel of choice for a sustainable future and to foster mutual interest between stakeholders, but also necessary to facilitate and encourage conversation amongst not only our member states, but conversations between producers, consumers and policy makers alike.

I consider it the role of all of us to guarantee that these ties continue to get stronger and to limit the ripple effect that political instabilities might have on people’s everyday lives.

We have a nice evening ahead of us, where we will take some time to honor some remarkable achievements, to enjoy some musical performances and enjoy good food.

And to conclude, I would like to thank you all again, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen for your attendance and contributions.

I wish you all a pleasant and a delightful evening.

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