PHILADELPHIA, 11 December 2012 – At a high–level conference, held at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Centre, international energy experts and key actors working on sustainable energy in the United States affirmed the importance of UN Secretary-General Ban’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL).
Organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF), the symposium brought together representatives of the UN, the US State Department, the private sector, academia, and civil society, as well as development partners and state and local government officials. Participants discussed practical solutions to the challenges of implementing Sustainable Energy for All at the global and local levels.
The Secretary-General’s landmark initiative seeks to confront the problems associated with energy poverty by meeting the three ambitious, yet achievable, objectives of ensuring universal access to modern energy, doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewables in the energy mix, all by 2030.
Ban has stated his belief that “energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increases social equity and provides for an environment that allows the world to thrive.”
George Assaf, UNIDO Director and Representative to the UN and other international organizations, noted that energy “is critical to the achievement of internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Without energy, achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development, environmental protection, political stability and gender equity would be increasingly difficult.”
Energy experts confirmed that while the benefits associated with energy access are in great demand in developing nations, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, it is also true that the richer nations like the United States should learn valuable lessons from the recent Hurricane Sandy.
“It is a matter of national security and global stability. It’s at the heart of the global economy. It’s also an issue of democracy and human rights,” said Robert Ichord, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the Bureau of Energy Resources.
The after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, which left more than eight million people in the United States with no access to electricity, is a reminder of the difficulties faced by 1.3 billion people around the world each and every day.
“This hurricane showed the vulnerability of humans to natural disaster even in the richest country in the world. It has also led to deep reflections on our preparedness against the effects of climate change in terms of adequacy of basic infrastructure, including transportation, water supply, and supporting urban planning. But the most striking thing that stood out in the midst of this tragedy was the critical importance of energy, and especially reliable energy supplies,” said Assaf.
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