Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Keynote address at the Sustainable Energy for All Ministerial Panel, Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference
15 January 2013, Abu Dhabi
Your Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water,
My UN Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to speak at the opening of this Conference on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
I bring the warm greetings of the Secretary-General and his best wishes for the success of this important conference.
As you know, sustainable development is a top priority of the Secretary-General, as set out in his Five-Year Action Agenda. Sustainable Energy for All is a critical part of this Agenda.
Indeed, the United Nations system has responded to the Secretary-General’s call for action in advancing Sustainable Energy for All. They have launched various collaborative initiatives and actions.
The participation today of so many Heads of Agencies and entities of the UN family bears testimony to that commitment.
I also bring the Secretary-General’s heart-felt appreciation to the Host Government for its leadership and support to the United Nations.
As many of you may recall, it is right here, in Abu Dhabi, that the Secretary-General launched the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. This was nearly one year ago, on 16 January 2012, at the opening of the 2012 World Future Energy Summit, organized by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and by Masdar.
Allow me also to commend the hosts for their extraordinary efforts in bringing together the world’s leading experts and policy makers in the fields of energy and water.
The strong nexus between energy and water calls for developing integrated systems that can marshal the synergies between energy and water projects. Addressing both energy and water in concurrent summits presents a unique opportunity for integrated and sustainable solutions.
Despite encouraging progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the world continues to face urgent and interconnected challenges related to modern energy services.
One out of every five people on Earth has no access to electricity.
Twice as many people — nearly 3 billion — use wood, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating, exposing themselves and their families to smoke and fumes that damage their health. Indoor pollution kills nearly 2 million people a year.
Here is the inconvenient truth: without access to modern energy services, it will not be possible to fully achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The availability of adequate, affordable and reliable energy services is essential for alleviating poverty, improving human welfare, raising living standards and, ultimately, achieving sustainable development.
That is why that Secretary-General decided to launch the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative at the opening of the UN General Assembly in September 2011. He set out three clear objectives to be achieved by 2030:
(1) Ensuring universal access to modern energy services;
(2) Doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
(3) Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
As the Secretary-General has often stressed in his remarks on energy, I quote, “energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.” unquote
Given energy’s multi-dimensional challenges, the world must follow a multi-pronged strategy.
First, achieving sustainable energy for all must involve the development of a sustainable energy system that emphasizes services to all. This must support the optimal use of energy resources in an equitable and socially inclusive manner, while minimizing environmental impacts.
Second, we must do more to strengthen integrated national and regional infrastructure for energy supply, transmission and distribution systems. We must put in place stronger measures and incentives that emphasize energy efficiency and energy savings.
Third, we must invest more in clean sources of energy. The accessibility and affordability of clean energy technologies are key to ensuring sustainable energy for all.
Rapid advances in technologies that produce energy from renewable sources, and use it more efficiently, have made clean energy more affordable and accessible than ever. Moreover, technologies are being developed that promise cleaner ways of using fossil fuels.
Last June, at the Rio+20 Conference, the international community recognized that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of renewable energy and cleaner and energy-efficient technologies are important for sustainable development, including in addressing climate change.
Member States further recognized the need for energy efficiency measures in urban planning, buildings and transportation, and in the production of goods and services and the design of products.
Equally important, they recognized the importance of promoting incentives in favour of, and removing disincentives to, energy efficiency and the diversification of the energy mix.
This Conference is taking place at a critical moment when the United Nations is engaged in the deliberations and consultations on a global development agenda beyond 2015.
In response to the General Assembly’s mandate, the Secretary-General has launched a number of initiatives.
In July 2012, the Secretary-General established a High-level Panel to advise him on the global development agenda beyond 2015. He asked the Panel to prepare a bold yet practical development vision, to present to Member States in May this year.
The consultations so far suggest that the post-2015 development agenda will need to reflect new development challenges, including on the energy front. It is broadly agreed that sustainable development goals, or SDGs, launched at the Rio+20 Conference, must be an integral part of any post-2015 UN development agenda.
It is also stressed that SDGs should be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries. And they need to take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respect national policies and priorities.
These and other related issues will be addressed by the Open Working Group on SDGs, which is scheduled to commence work by the end of this month.
I hope the discussions that are taking place during this Conference will help contribute to the post-2015 development process.
The United Nations General Assembly recently declared the decade 2014-2024 as the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, to promote the use of all sources of energy.
The General Assembly also dedicated 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, providing yet another important opportunity to promote cooperation at all levels in support of global water related goals.
This Conference can help to chart an integrated roadmap for achieving global sustainable energy development and a reliable clean water supply. Your support will be valuable in our efforts to strengthening public-private partnerships, developing innovative energy and water technologies and integrated processes, and identifying important business opportunities.
I wish you productive discussions, and look forward to your continued and valuable contributions to Sustainable Energy for All