We would like to open the door of this page to world-renowned experts. The guest editorial for this issue has been written by Mr John Tustin, Secretary, IEA Bioenergy, New Zealand.

As Secretary for IEA Bioenergy I am very pleased to contribute this editorial. The timing is apt, as FAO and IEA Bioenergy have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in the area of "biomass energy". This collaboration was foreshadowed briefly in Forest Energy Forum No. 5. Many of Forest Energy Forum readers will not be familiar with the International Energy Agency (IEA), so it is appropriate to provide a brief overview of this organization.

IEA was founded in 1974, is based in Paris and is an autonomous agency within the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is the energy forum for 24 industrialized countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission of the European Communities also takes part in the work of IEA.

The member governments of IEA have agreed that in the event of a severe oil supply disruption they will share the remaining supplies. At the start, they quickly accomplished the immediate tasks of setting up an emergency oil-sharing system and and oil market information system. They also undertook to coordinate their energy policies. Then, with the stimulus of the two major oil price increases of 1973-74 and 1979-80, IEA member countries significantly reduced their dependence on imported oil by developing their own oil resources and by switching away from oil to other energy sources, including renewable energy. Industries and households in these countries improved their energy efficiency and conservation efforts showed impressive results.

To avoid a return to the risks of the 1970s, IEA believes we must continue to conserve and diversify energy supplies. It also believes there are new points of emphasis that need to be addressed. These include achieving both energy and environmental objectives and preserving an open trade in energy. In addition, looking ahead, IEA stresses the importance of maintaining momentum in energy research and development (R&D) programmes through increased international collaboration. The IEA energy technology and R&D collaboration programme facilitates cooperation among IEA member and non-member countries in order to develop new and improved energy technologies and introduce them into the market. The collaboration programme aims at bringing together experts on specific technologies who wish to work on common problems and share the results. Activities are set up under Implementing Agreements, which provide the legal mechanism for establishing the commitments of the Contracting Parties and the management structure to guide the activity. Contracting Parties can be government organizations or private entities designated by their governments. Non-IEA member countries, or their designated entities, can also become Contracting Parties.

So far, nearly 60 Implementing Agreements have been established; a number have already been terminated after successfully completing their tasks, and at present there are 43 Implementing Agreements - IEA Bioenergy is one of them. Set up in 1978, IEA Bioenergy now has 19 countries participating in the collaboration. Funding is through two broad mechanisms:

· cost sharing, in which participants contribute to a common fund for conducting a programme at a single location; and

· task sharing, in which participants devote specified resources and personnel to conducting part of a common work programme.

Issues in which IEA Bioenergy is currently active include increasing the involvement of industry and the deployment of new and improved energy technologies.

The Memorandum of Understanding between IEA Bioenergy and FAO was signed early this year by Mr M. Hosny El-Lakany, Assistant Director-General of FAO's Forestry Department and Dr Josef Spitzer, Chairman of IEA Bioenergy. This agreement will facilitate collaboration on projects of mutual interest in the field of bioenergy and wood energy in particular. The main contact at FAO will be Mr Miguel Trossero, Senior Forestry Officer (Wood Energy) of FAO's Forest Products Division. The expected benefits include: improved information dissemination, cost-effective promotion of bioenergy activities, improved technology transfer and opportunities for demonstration and deployment in developing countries, in-kind contributions in the areas of bioenergy data gathering and database information, and collaboration in specific technical areas. Overall, this MoU is a pleasing and exciting development that should bring significant benefits to all involved.

John Tustin

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