Tuesday, 20 September 2011

UN Secretary-General launches high-level group to implement his new sustainable energy for all initiative

NEW YORK, 20 September 2011 – The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today launched his new energy access initiative and a high-level group to implement it.

The initiative seeks to achieve the goal of Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 by meeting three inter linked global targets: universal access to modern energy services; doubling energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in world’s energy supply.

The initiative was launched at the annual Private Sector Forum, hosted by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with UNIDO and UN-Energy during the General Assembly. The Forum brought together some 300 business, government and civil society leaders from around the world.

The high-level group will be co-chaired by the Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh K. Yumkella, and the Chairman of Bank of America Corporation, Charles O. Holliday.  

Ban has invited leaders from business, government, international organizations and civil society to come together to form new public-private partnerships to implement this global energy initiative, as a stepping stone to the Rio+20 summit in June 2012 in Brazil.

The year 2012 has been designated by the U.N. General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

Ban said he was launching the initiative with the aim "to catalyse action at all levels". 

"It will bring together leaders from government, finance, business and civil society and establish partnerships that will make sustainable energy for all a reality. Energy is critical for human progress -- for health, education, job generation and economic competitiveness. For the developing world, energy poverty is devastating. Taken together, energy poverty is jeopardizing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals," he said.

"I call on all of you to help form partnerships and align with our mission to ensure Sustainable Energy for All. The business community is a central UN partner. Together we can achieve this most important objective for our common sustainable future," added the Secretary-General. 

“Energy powers human progress,” said Director-General Yumkella. “From job generation to economic competitiveness, from strengthening security to empowering women, energy is the great integrator: it cuts across all sectors and lies at the heart of all countries’ core interests.”

“Now more than ever, the world needs to ensure that the benefits of modern energy are available to all and that energy is provided as cleanly and efficiently as possible. This is a matter of equity, first and foremost, but it is also an issue of urgent practical importance.  Ensuring sustainable energy for all is essential for meeting two of the most pressing challenges of our time – reducing poverty and minimizing the risks of climate change,” added Yumkella.  

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of the new energy initiative, said: “Providing energy to every single person on Earth by 2030 is not going to be easy. By 2030, we will have at least 8 billion people. Some will tell you our goal is impossible. But I love challenges. I’m an optimist. I want all of you to join me in ignoring the pessimists and the critics, because they’ll complain no matter what. It’s our job to hit the mute button and get to work.”

Among other positive cases, Schwarzenegger brought the example of California. Thanks to green policies, he said, the State is now 40 per cent more energy efficient than the rest of the United States. “The green sector has produced 10 times the jobs of any other sector in California, and California has attracted 60 per cent of the green tech venture capital in the United States even though we only represent 10 percent of the country,” added Schwarzenegger.

“We have to make sure the world knows about the great work that's already being done, whether it is in Oslo or Tokyo or Abu Dhabi or Germany or Austria or in California. When we share our green solutions and inspire others, our impact is multiplied many times. When it comes to addressing global climate issues, we don’t have to wait for the national capitals to make it happen,” he said.

The former Governor urged all parties involved to address climate issues “in two directions”, from the “bottom-up” and from the “top-down”, adding: “One day the two approaches will meet in the middle and achieve critical mass. But until that day, I’m going to keep pushing regional governments around the world to come off the sidelines and realize their unbelievable power and influence.”

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, called on the private sector to engage more fully in transformational partnerships with the UN. “The time is right for greater collaboration between the private sector and the UN,” he said.

To download the Secretary General's full speech, click here

To download Schwarzenegger's full speech, click here

For more information on UNIDO, please contact:

Mikhail Evstafyev
UNIDO Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-5021
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-7329

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