Sustainable Energy for All

With all the high-level meetings, heads of state speeches and commitments during a busy UN week in New York City, one announcement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stands out: the creation of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, which has three broad objectives to be achieved by 2030:

– ensuring universal access to modern energy services

– doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency;

– doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Leaders from global corporations, financial institutions, and foundations will join with UN agencies and member states to produce a comprehensive and concrete sustainable energy action agenda leading up to the Rio+20 conference next year.

During a media briefing earlier today, Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of UN-Energy and Director General of UNIDO, said that the impetus behind the Secretary-General’s new initiative comes from “recognizing the linkages between climate change, poverty reduction and MDG achievement.” Indeed, Yumkella noted that there is an understanding that all of the urgent global challenges the international community is seeking to address – for example, women and girls’ empowerment, food security – are inextricably linked to the need for sustainable, clean energy.

The ambitious goal of universal access to clean energy by 2030 will require significant financial investments. Yumkella emphasized that the billions of dollars needed to implement this agenda “are in the hands of the private sector.” With its prestigious, high-level advisory committee, the Sustainable Energy for All initiative will be encouraging investments in research & development and in proven technologies to help meet this goal.

“The right time [to launch this initiative] is now because we feel there is already a clean energy revolution.” Yumkella pointed to the dramatic increases in investment in clean energy technology in recent years (from $50 to $240 billion between 2004 and today), the major decline in solar energy costs and the introduction of new battery types. And with the participation of actors such as Chad Holliday, Chairman of the Board, Bank of America and former President of Dupont and the UN Foundation’s Tim Wirth, the initiative will be able to mobilize the good will and participation of key institutions: governments, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society.

– To listen to today’s media briefing with Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of UN-Energy and Director General of UNIDO, Reid Detchon, Vice President, Energy and Climate, UN Foundation, and Richenda Van Leeuwen, Senior Director, Energy and Climate, UN Foundation, please click here.

– To read the UN Foundation’s press release, click here.

– To read Sustainable Energy for All’s press release, click here.