The Conference of CEI Ministers for Agriculture and the Environment on “Energy Turnaround” was held in Vienna on 9 October 2014 under the Austrian CEI Presidency.

The introductory speech on “Renewable Energy for Rural Development: Change for the Environment and Opportunity for the Forestry”, was delivered by Andra Rupprechter, Austrian Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. It was followed by a keynote address by Franz  Fischler, former EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. Both speeches focused on the unique opportunities offered by biomass development in the field of renewable energies, including the positive, long-lasting implications in terms of rural development, job creation, environment protection and self-sufficiency from oil imports.

Ministers of Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine actively participated in the round table on the economic importance of Renewable Energies, on the basis of the first-hand experience of the respective countries. 

In his introduction, on behalf of the Central European Initiative, Giorgio Rosso Cicogna, Special Advisor to CEI Secretary General, recalled that energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture were all priority areas in the CEI Plan of Action 2014-16. He summarised the most relevant CEI activities in this field, carried out with the support of the CEI Trust Fund at ERBD, the CEI Cooperation Fund, the CEI Know-how Exchange Program (KEP) and through the participation in three major projects in the Framework of EC FP7. Finally, Rosso Cicogna informed that during the similar CEI Meeting of Ministers for Science and Technology, held in Trieste at the end of September 2014, there was a discussion on advanced biofuels, and that participants unanimously requested that the CEI Secretariat should organise, as soon as possible, another enlarged Ministerial Meeting focused on Advanced Biofuels alone.
 
Minister Rupprechter concluded the Vienna Meeting by emphasising that Austria strongly felt the need for an Energy Turnaround based on Renewable Bioenergy, and that the impact of this turnaround on rural development could provide a substantial contribution in the right direction.

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