Well, good afternoon, and it is such a pleasure for me to be here. I want to thank Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s special envoy for climate change and CEO of Masdar, Adnan Amin, the new interim director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, known as IRENA, which will have its permanent headquarters here in Masdar City, and Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, the president of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and a professor from MIT.
This is a very exciting and important visit for me personally, and I thank His Excellency for those kind words. But the partnership that we have established between the United States and Abu Dhabi around renewable energy and climate change and sustainable development that takes advantage of human capital is one of the most important partnerships for the future that we could be pursuing.
We have a special connection with the institute because of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of our nation’s top universities, and because of the Department of Energy. We believe that the work that is being done here at Masdar has the potential to solve some of the most urgent challenges facing our planet. How do we develop sustainable energy sources that can power our cities without contributing to climate change? How do we create technologies that are scalable and both use less power and are widely affordable? How do we supply water for drinking and farming in places where fresh water sources are decreasing? How do we achieve economic growth without relying so heavily on fossil fuels where they’re drilling for them, selling them, buying them, or burning them?
Now, these challenges are pressing across the world, but they are especially significant here in the Gulf. We know that oil supplies are shrinking, water tables are declining. The old strategies for growth and prosperity will no longer work. For too many people in too many places, the status quo today is unsustainable. And the UAE is leading our work and the path we must take into the future. It is putting into practice what it means to be sustainable and laying the groundwork for economic, environmental, and social progress.
What I admire about the steps that the UAE has taken is that it’s not only this institute, which is very impressive just to be part of and to view, but it’s also working while continuing your role as a leading oil producer, investing in renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and moving toward a knowledge-based economy by investing in education, as I saw this morning at Zayed University. UAE is positioning itself to be a center for innovation and entrepreneurship for years to come.
Now, I would imagine that many other countries are going to be looking to you to learn how to do this. You will have the model that will demonstrate to others what it takes to achieve renewable energy and sustainable growth. To that end, we look forward to the positive impact that IRENA will have. The United States applauds IRENA’s goal of accelerating the rapid development and deployment of renewable energy worldwide. We want to enhance energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address energy poverty, support sustainable development, and boost economic growth worldwide. And we congratulate Abu Dhabi on hosting IRENA.
This is the first truly international organization to be headquartered in the Middle East, and we have high hopes that it will provide a link between developed and developing countries in sustainable energy production. And we want it to be a truly global organization open to representative offices here in the UAE, to every country willing to abide by its principles and commit to its goals to translate good intentions into concrete results.
I am very pleased that the United States and the UAE have deepened our partnership on energy in recent months. Masdar and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding last year to promote joint research and development of clean energy technologies. Our two countries along with nearly two dozen others held our first ever high-level ministerial meeting on clean energy last June in Washington, and Abu Dhabi will host the second meeting here in April. And in a week, U.S. public and private sector representatives will join people around the world here in Abu Dhabi at the World Future Energy Summit.
This work is in the interest of not only global progress, but also our own domestic interests as well, because clean energy will be a driver for good jobs. I know that there are many talented people here in the UAE, and giving scientists and engineers and technicians the opportunity to participate in the clean energy revolution will bring good jobs to UAE, more income, and a greater ability to create and spin off businesses.
UAE is so well positioned to compete in the 21st century because of your commitment to clean, renewable energy. We are fully committed to supporting your work and we will do everything we can, through our academic institutions like MIT, through our government, like the Department of Energy and the State Department, and through our private sector to bring more jobs and bring more innovative entrepreneurial spirit here to the UAE. There is so much we can do together.
And I would add that part of the reason for my trip is not only to meet with leaders, as I’ve had the chance to do, but also to talk with the citizens of this country, as I did earlier at the town hall, but also to highlight the very creative efforts that are being undertaken here in Abu Dhabi. I want my country to know how advanced you are in pursuing clean, renewable energy. I want the world to know that the United States is partnering with you, because we are betting on Abu Dhabi and the UAE. We are betting that this incredible investment represented by Masdar is going to pay off. And when it pays off, it will not only mean a better life for the people of this country and this region. It will have ripple effects throughout the world.
One of our challenges is how do we raise the standard of living in poor countries. We cannot do it by recreating the past. We have to do it by leapfrogging into the future. And the technologies that you will pioneer here will enable a poor African or Asian or Latin American country to have a better future as well.
So I express our gratitude to the leadership and the people of the UAE for being visionary, innovative, creative, and at the same time very practical about how you intend to achieve your goals. We are proud to be your partner and we’re looking forward to achieving real progress for our citizens in both of our countries and for the world at large. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)