What is your background in energy and your role within the World Energy Council and World Energy Congress?

I have worked in the energy sector for over 28 years and currently lead Global Energy, Utilities and Resources for PwC’s worldwide operations. I remain close to companies, regulators, policy makers and local governments on the ongoing energy transition and have a thorough understanding of the entire energy value chain. The complex nature of the challenges facing the industry, particularly as it stands today, have kept me motivated to remain passionate about energy.

I am proud to chair the Dutch membership committee of the World Energy Council and lead the organising committee for the 26th World Energy Congress to be held in Rotterdam next year.

What is the point of the World Energy Congress?

The World Energy Congress connects and inspires energy leaders around the world, including ministers, C-suite executives, NGOs, experts and academia, entrepreneurs, and young energy leaders.

Marking the beginning of the centenary of the World Energy Council, the World Energy Congress will provide a forum to reflect on the role of connected energy communities in driving forward global energy transitions in today’s less predictable, more turbulent and faster shifting world.

As communities around the world struggle with high energy prices and increasingly severe impacts of climate change, there has never been a more critical time for energy leaders around the world to come together to shape a better energy future.

The Congress brings delegates face-to-face with energy leaders, visionaries, designers, innovators, and disruptors to share insights and to forge new partnerships for the future.

The 2024 theme is “redesigning energy for people and planet”, can you unpack that a little?

“Redesigning energy for people and planet” was selected as a theme to reflect the significant winds of change experienced across all geographies through multiple energy shocks.

Energy transitions are not about the energy industry per se but achieving the goal of billions of better lives on a healthy planet. The connected challenges of energy security, affordability and decarbonisation will need to be better managed through the energy transition processes if societies are to avoid swinging from the current crisis to the next. Doing so requires a commitment to rethinking our current energy systems and considering how they can work better for the benefit of our planet and our society.

Looking ahead to the next 100 years of energy, it’s critical we consider not just what the future of our energy technologies look like but also how we increase society’s energy literacy and create more inclusive, bottom-up energy communities.

As we advance our understanding of how successful energy transitions can create useful energy and engage users in redesigning energy to meet the needs of current and future generations, the World Energy Congress will navigate the most pressing issues within the critical context of energy security, affordability and sustainability.

Why Rotterdam?

The city of Rotterdam consistently endorses innovation and is at the centre of Europe’s energy transition, with Europe’s largest smart port and a world-leading energy economy with strong logistical, chemical and other industry clusters.

Rotterdam is a hotspot for big projects and energy transition initiatives. For example: offshore wind farm, Hollandse Kust Zuid; hydrogen plant, Holland Hydrogen I; CO2 storage project, Porthos; and WarmtelinQ, a pipeline for residual heat.

By investing in knowledge, technology and infrastructure, the transition towards a green economy includes tackling energy and mobility poverty among city residents, engaging residents in the transition and becoming more resilient.

This combination of energy expertise and global outlook makes Rotterdam the natural home for the World Energy Congress with its ambition to bring together a diverse range views and experiences to help redesign energy for people and the planet.

What new features can we expect to see as part of the event?

The four-day programme aims to speak to the whole energy ecosystem – from producers and suppliers to consumers and users of energy. Sessions will highlight different energy realities and showcase real stories of successful place-based transitions around the world. Other features include dedicated regional and city level sessions, to enable community-focused dialogue, a mix of immersive and interactive initiatives and an exhibition space showcasing various innovations.

I’m looking forward to hearing from our impressive range of speakers, including Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, and Phyllis Omido, Founder of the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action.

In 2024, the Congress will showcase the most exciting, ground-breaking advances in energy and the people involved. It will offer a unique space for attendees to forge new relationships, facilitate deals and share insights across all sectors, industries and societies.

Is the conference simply too big to be effective?

The world is increasingly feeling the pressure to accelerate the energy transition. This urgency is driven by the climate crisis, which unfolds daily in alarming ways across the world. Stakeholders are increasing pressure to speed up the energy transition, however we continue to face difficulty in, and resistance to, behaviour change.

To speed up the transition, we need to take a broader view when evaluating progress, projects, opportunities and challenges. With significant diversity of attendees from across society – energy leaders, visionaries, designers and innovators from different regions around the world – the World Energy Congress provides a platform for meaningful dialogue. It serves as an opportunity to bring diverse views and perspectives together, which would otherwise remain siloed. The event theme and programme have been designed with key issues in mind and are pointed enough to enable effective outcomes. There has never been a more important time for the conversations and connections that will secure new possibilities of better energy for all.

In your view, what would a successful World Energy Congress look like?

The World Energy Congress will be the first major point of reflection following COP28, hosted by the UAE in December 2023. The Congress will provide an early opportunity for delegates and attendees to consider takeaways from Dubai and map out the pragmatic transition trajectory amid the backdrop of today’s less predictable, more turbulent, and rapidly shifting world. The event will bring together 18 000 attendees, and a total of 250 speakers – women, workers, the next generation – for four days of impact- and solutions-focused conversations, roundtables and peer-to-peer networking. This is a feat in and of itself in an environment where it is more vital than ever before to bring open and inclusive minds together to create solutions and drive transformation for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

Above: Opening ceremony of the 2019 World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi