It is a simple fact that development is not possible without energy, and sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said, "Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive." The world's energy systems must be transformed to meet the needs of the 1.3 billion people who lack access to electricity and the 3 billion people who do not have access to clean and safe cooking facilities and to accelerate a shift towards sustainable energy use to safeguard the Earth's climate.
To meet the global energy and sustainability challenge, the United Nations Foundation has worked closely with United Nations partners over the past several years to support the Secretary-General’s initiative on Sustainable Energy for All. This initiative seeks to mobilize action from all sectors of society in support of three interlinked objectives to be achieved by 2030: providing universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
The UN Foundation continues to support the implementation phase of the initiative. Specifically, the UN Foundation will help catalyze and facilitate achievement of the three-year milestones set out in the initiative’s work program, and ultimately the initiative’s 2030 objectives:
The following section highlights a few projects the UN Foundation and UNFIP have supported under the Biodiversity Programme.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one the most biodiversity rich countries in Africa, prolonged armed conflict and instability have wrought havoc on the countries natural World Heritage sites . UNF has supported a UNESCO project that is working with the national park service and NGOs to support vital field conservation operations, including the payment of salaries of 1,100 park rangers to enable them to protect the sites against heavily armed poachers and other threats.
In the Galapagos Islands, the Foundation has supported an initiative to support the control and eradication of select invasive or alien species that represent the principle threat to the Galapagos World Heritage site. The UNF funds are being used to develop new methodologies for prevention of new introductions and the eradication and control of select invasive species. The project has contributed to government efforts to strengthen quarantine and inspection systems and enhanced awareness among local communities of invasive species and control procedures.
The foundation has also supported efforts to establish Sustainable Tourism management plans at World Heritage sites in Central America and support the creation of ecotourism enterprises that generate income for local communities.
Recognizing that a large proportion of the worlds poor directly depend on healthy ecosytems for their livelihoods, we are working closely with UNDP biodiversity team and the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility to support and promote greater recognition of the critical role of community-based enterprises in promoting local economic development through conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. Two such initiatives include:
As a final example, we are supporting the BioTrade Initiative, an UNCTAD Programme which assists small and medium enterprises in developing countries to promote trade in biodiversity based products and services. The product groups it supports are based on economic and social and environmental criteria and include: edible plant products like fruits and nuts, plant-based pharmaceutical and cosmetic ingredients. The programme provides practical trade promotion services, including assistance to enterprises in supporting market assessments, product development, quality improvement and certification and labeling.
The provision of affordable, modern energy services to the world's poor is essential to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoting sustainable economic development, mitigating climate change, and enhancing energy security.
Promoting Energy Access - Approximately 2 billion people are without access to electricity and utilize traditional fuels (biomass and kerosene) for cooking and heating, leading to significant environmental and health impacts.
Mitigating Climate Change - Humanity is at a critical stage in its efforts to combat climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the world's climate is changing and that human beings are largely responsible. The burning of fossil fuels (primarily coal, petroleum, and natural gas), which releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, is the primary culprit, together with deforestation. The expected repercussions of climate change - including rising sea waters, more frequent and intense storms, the extinction of species, worsening droughts and crop failures - will affect every nation on earth. Expanding the markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency are essential to reducing carbon emissions and thereby mitigate climate change.
Beyond the original Energy and Climate Change Programme strategy, UNF's work has evolved in recent years to include:
Rural Energy Enterprise Development (REED) - In many developing country markets, SME's are a promising means to deliver new clean energy technologies and services to populations currently without access to modern forms of energy supply. Though the REED program, UNF has been supporting UNEP and a diverse group of local and international partners to promote and strengthen small energy service enterprises that use clean, efficient and sustainable energy technologies to meet the energy needs of under-served populations in several African countries, Brazil and China. The REED 'enterprise centered' model offers sustainable energy entrepreneurs and existing companies a combination of enterprise development services and early stage financing.
Promoting Markets for Solar Water Heating in China - This UNDESA project aims to remove the barriers to widespread use of solar water heating technologies by developing model building designs, and working with municipal governments to enact standards and building codes for integrating solar water heaters into new residential buildings. The project is working closely with national and municipal governments, real estate developers, architectural design institutes, the construction industry and solar thermal industry and has been highly successful to date in facilitating the enactment new standards and residential building codes that will contribute significantly to the growth of the solar water heating technology market in China.
India Solar Loan Facility - One of the main barriers to the development of markets for clean energy is access to finance, including consumer credit. In response to this challenge, we are supporting a UNEP initiative, in partnership with the Shell Foundation and two major Indian banks (Syndicate and Canara), to accelerate the market for financing solar home systems in southern India. By providing an interest rate subsidy to lower the cost to customers of solar home system financing the project has been catalytic in assisting the Indian banks to establish credit facilities dedicated to providing loans to finance the purchase of solar home systems.
Energy Efficiency Investment for Climate Change Mitigation - This project, implemented by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), is intended to accelerate energy efficiency market formation activities for the greater participation of private sector investments, products and services in three key areas: municipal lighting, hospitals and district heating. It succeeded in establishing a new network of selected municipalities linked by advanced Internet communications with international partners for value added information transfers on policy reforms, financing and energy management. The project has promoted a self-sustaining investment environment for cost-effective energy efficiency projects advancing local city-scale participation in the objectives of UN FCCC and UN ECE environmental accords.
Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards (CLASP) Programme - The mission of the CLASP programme is to promote the appropriate use of energy efficiency standards and labels for appliances, equipment and lighting in developing countries. Participating countries, including China, India, Brazil, Ghana, and Poland, among others, benefited from enhanced institutional capacity for implementing standards and labeling programmes, increased production of energy efficient products by manufacturers, improved average annual energy efficiency of appliances and equipment, significant reductions in electricity consumption, and lower energy-related emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.