Welcome Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
19 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro
My colleagues from the UN systems,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me, as Conference Secretary-General of Rio+20, to welcome all of you to this Energy Day.
Today, an extraordinary group of energy experts are gathering here to discuss the important links between energy and sustainable development and to generate action-oriented solutions.
Much of the global attention to energy issues in the lead-up to Rio has been thanks to the UN Secretary-General’s vision and personal leadership.
Given the major impact it has on sustainable development and poverty eradication, energy should indeed be at the top of our priority list.
And today’s ambitious programme reflects that.
There will be sessions on a range of important issues such as women and health, financing, access, efficiency, renewable energy, and the nexus with water and food security.
In all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – energy is of utmost importance.
In the social dimension, issues such as accessibility and affordability of modern and sustainable energy systems must be addressed.
In the economic dimension, reducing energy intensity in the major sectors of the economy – including the industrial, commercial, service, residential and transport sectors, is an important goal for sustainable, responsible growth.
While in the environmental dimension, the threat of climate change necessitates increasing the usage of clean energy.
So let’s be clear: energy is vital to sustainable development
Let’s consider for a moment – a few global trends that are currently impacting energy needs and usage.
At present, the world’s population is now more than 7 billion. By mid-century – in less than 40 years – it is expected to reach 9 billion.
More than half of today’s 7 billion live in urban centers – a trend that is only expected to intensify.
Meanwhile, in some parts of the world, more and more people are moving to higher levels of development. It is only logical that they will expect – even demand – more energy to satisfy their elevated living standards.
With these variables – determining how much energy will be needed, what kind, and where – is an extremely complex task.
This is precisely why events like Energy Day are so important – so that we can generate fresh ideas and proposals to ensure that we are able to meet our energy related targets.
Which brings me to what we are doing at the United Nations in regards to energy.
Energy has become a leading priority at the United Nations, starting at the top with Secretary General Ban Ki moon’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative.
As the Secretary-General has often stressed in his remarks on energy, “energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”
His Sustainable Energy for All initiative has three main components:
- universal energy access by the year 2030
- doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030
- doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
This dedication to resolving energy poverty, while improving efficiency, is also evident in the UN General Assembly resolution that declared the current year 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.”
Through public and private partnerships, many relevant activities and initiatives are now being conducted worldwide in celebrating the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
Ending energy poverty within a generation is an ambitious, yet noble and achievable goal.
And Rio+20 presents an opportunity to secure the strong, high-level international support and commitments to get us there.
This backing can also help us make significant gains in energy efficiency and effective use of new and cleaner sources of energy.
I thank you for your active participation in Rio+20 and today at Energy Day.
Each one of you can help contribute to the sustainable energy future we want.
I wish you great success and fruitful discussions in this important day devoted to energy.
Thank you very much.