Since its founding in 2008 by a joint initiative of IIASA, the Austrian Government, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Vienna Energy Forum (VEF) has assembled thinkers and practitioners from all over the world to discuss practical solutions to sustainable development challenges and pave the way for tangible partnerships on the ground.

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The VEF 2021 is designed to facilitate a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary dialogue on sustainable energy for inclusive development and productive capacities. Guided by the motto “Where Action Meets Ambition” and designed as the first virtual VEF, the 2021 edition will include a Youth Day on the 5th of July 2021, followed by the VEF on the 6th and 7th of July 2021. As a flagship platform designed to spur action, this year’s edition will bring together key stakeholders and experts to explore and deliberate on the key topics that advance sustainable development in the energy domain. Senior government representatives and leading experts will discuss key priorities, offer local perspectives, and highlight opportunities and potential solutions that also contribute to global climate action. 

The sessions will delve into key priorities, showcase projects, and highlight the action-oriented steps required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, helping to forge an inclusive pathway that leaves no one behind as we work to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

IIASA is a member of the VEF Steering Committee and this year, IIASA leadership and several researchers will participate in various sessions - see below a few highlights. The institute will also be hosting a digital exhibition booth featuring interactive presentations and videos covering a range of topics relating to sustainable energy and forging an inclusive pathway that leaves no one behind on the road to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Click here to download the VEF 2021 agenda. 


IIASA participation

05 July 2021, 12:30-13:30 CEST (TBC)

“Youth for VEF” event: Reaching net-zero with youth: technology and policy for a just energy transition

Panel includes Shonali Pachauri, Research Group Leader, Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group, Energy, Climate, and Environment Program

06 July 2021, 09:00-10:00 CEST

VEF 2021 Opening Session

Speakers include Leena Srivastava, IIASA Deputy Director General for Science; LI Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs; and Leonore Gewessler, Austrian Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology.

06 July 2021, 12:00-13:00 CEST

IIASA side-event: What does a commitment to net zero imply and how can we get there?

Speakers include:

  • Keywan Riahi, Program Director, Energy, Climate, and Environment Program
  • Bas van Ruijven, Research Group Leader, Sustainable Service Systems Research Group
  • Elina Brutschin, Researcher, Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group

Meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement and avoiding temperature overshoot requires rapid and pervasive emissions reductions to achieve net zero CO2 emissions globally. A new generation of global transformation pathways explore strategies to limit temperature overshoot without relying on net negative emissions. The pathways are co-developed as part of a major community effort (ENGAGE). They illustrate that near-term upfront investments into low-carbon portfolios will create major long-term economic benefits. Possible alternative configurations of global net-zero CO2 emissions systems are identified and the distinct roles of different sectors and regions in achieving a balance of emissions sources and sinks are highlighted. The side-event concludes with presenting a new framework for the systematic exploration of related feasibility challenges and enabling conditions. 

Draft Agenda: 

  1. Presentation by Keywan Riahi and Bas van Ruijven (IIASA) - Overview of net-zero emissions scenarios, avoiding temperature overshoot and balancing sinks and sources 
  2. Presentation by Christoph Bertram from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impacts Research (PIK) - Energy system developments and investments in the decisive decade for the Paris Agreement goals 
  3. Presentation by Elina Brutschin (IIASA) and Silvia Pianta (CMCC) Assessing the feasibility of climate mitigation pathways consistent with the Paris Agreement. 
  4. Time allowing, an interactive demonstration of the ENGAGE Scenario Explorer and/or Feasibility Visualisation Tool 
  5. Panel discussion, time allowing.

07 July 2021, 14:30-15:30 CEST

IIASA side-event: Importance of finance sector analysis in transformation assessments

Includes panel discussion led by Bas van Ruijven, Research Group Leader, Sustainable Service Systems Research Group

In recent years, the finance sector has discovered the risks of climate change and climate policy on financial assets and productivity. Especially central banks, organized in the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), have been developing methods and standards for climate stress testing the financial sector. A consortium of IAM teams has worked with the NGFS to develop bespoke scenarios for stress testing the financial sector. On the other hand, the role of the financial sector in climate scenarios is rather limited, as pointed out in a recent Science paper. Therefore, scientists are working on methods to improve the representation of financial actors in climate scenarios.


  1. Edo Schets, Bank of England: Relevance of climate change for the finance sector 
  2. Jerome Hilaire, Postdam Institute of Climate Impacts Research (PIK): Climate scenarios for the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) 
  3. Irene Monsterolo, UW/IIASA: Integrating the financial sector in Integrated Assessment Models 
  4. Panel discussion on importance of financial sector for climate, climate scenarios for the financial sector and the way ahead, led by Bas van Ruijven 

07 July 2021, 10:30-11:30 CEST

Side-event organized by Indian Institute of Technology Bombay: Towards Zero Carbon Industry Futures 

Speakers include Bas van Ruijven, Research Group Leader, Sustainable Service Systems Research Group

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