NEW YORK, 7 April 2011 - The United Nations Foundation and the inter-agency coordinating group UN-Energy, together with several leading service providers and advocates, today championed a UN effort to raise awareness about the critical importance of extending modern energy services to the billions who still lack them.
Worldwide some 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and 1.4 billion have no access to electricity, with one billion more having access only to unreliable electricity networks.
More than a hundred business and investment leaders gathered today at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance roundtable on energy access and climate finance to discuss new ways to expand energy’s reach among the world’s poorest. The event is a critical forum to connect policy advocates and investors to outline the manner in which modern energy services can be provided, and the means needed to pay for them.
The year’s designation was established in a December 2010 UN General Assembly resolution and was endorsed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a speech to the World Energy Forum in Dubai earlier this year.
During the year, a number of events will be held around the world to demonstrate both the need for and benefits from increasing access to energy, including the 21-23 June 2011 Vienna Energy Forum, being co-organized by UNIDO.
Throughout 2012, member states, with assistance from UN agencies, will create National Coordinating Committees to raise awareness about the issue and available solutions, and chart a course for reaching universal access by 2030 – a goal set last year by the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, which is chaired by UNIDO Director-general, Kandeh K. Yumkella.
Without electricity and fuel to power machinery and lighting there is little hope of achieving the health, education and environmental improvements set forth in the Millennium Development Goals.
“The obstacles to energy access are not technical. We know how to build power systems, design modern cooking stoves and meet energy demand efficiently. What is missing is a global commitment to move energy access up the political and development agendas,” said Kandeh Yumkella. “The Year affords an unparalleled opportunity to focus attention and secure commitments from governments, private businesses, academia, civil society, international organizations and NGOs.”
“Energy is the oxygen of commerce and wealth creation; it is essential to economic development. Modern energy powered the industrial revolution and raised the productivity, living standards and wealth of countless millions. Developing countries need that same opportunity to improve their people’s lives,” said United Nations Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth. “The visibility of the Year’s activities will make a strategic contribution that programs and partnerships will depend on for eventual success.”
“Bloomberg New Energy Finance is pleased to be working with the United Nations Foundation and UN-Energy to push forward the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, which has been announced by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Heads of State and Government,” said Michael Liebreich, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Providing energy to those who need it the most is a vital step to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and improving the living conditions of billions of people around the world. We are committed to supporting This Year and the goal of universal access to cheap, clean, safe energy.”
“The development stimulated by increased energy access will not only benefit those in developing countries,” said Harry Verhaar, Senior Director, Energy and Climate Change, Phillips Lighting. “This growing prosperity will also increase demand for modern products and services – creating new markets for which we can all compete."
“Broader access to electricity and modern fuels is a means for women's empowerment, access to education, health care, and prosperity and, through sustainable technologies, such as solar panels and clean and efficient cook stoves, lives are saved and our environment protected,” said Leena Srivastava, Executive Director of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). “The Year will summon much-needed attention to the issue and set in motion the programs and commitments necessary to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030.”
“Energy access for the poor using sustainable energy solves two pressing problems - poverty and climate,” explained Harish Hande, Managing Director of SELCO-India. “2012 being the Year of Sustainable Energy for All provides a perfect platform for corporates, government institutions, NGOs and individuals to make sure that the present 4 billion underserved poor in the world join the mainstream - resulting in a socially and environmentally sustainable world.”
Many international humanitarian and development goals have yet to be reached, due in large part to a lack of access to electricity and modern fuels. In the developed world, energy's essential role in life and commerce is made clear every time a storm knocks out power: no ability to heat, cool or light homes or businesses, cook or refrigerate. Once power is restored these worries are ancient history. But such conditions are the daily norm for billions in the developing world, where fuel to power agricultural machinery, irrigation systems and medical equipment is scarce and costly; goods and crops cannot reach beyond local markets; production and learning come to a halt when the sun sets; and life-saving vaccines cannot be adequately stored.
The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, and the goal of reaching universal access to energy by 2030, are the result of consistent leadership from the Secretary General, and are based upon recommendations from a 2010 report of his Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change.
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