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Now, More than Ever, World Needs Bold Leadership to Make Promise of Renewable
Energy Reality, Secretary-General Tells International Assembly in Abu Dhabi
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 15 January:
I am pleased to be with you for this Assembly at the beginning of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
Abu Dhabi, home to IRENA and host of the World Future Energy Summit, is providing commendable leadership on this core issue of sustainable development. The rapid growth in IRENA’s membership since its founding just three years ago is clear evidence that countries want a clean energy future.
IRENA members recognize that renewable energy can boost competitiveness and growth while combating climate change. They see the potential for universal energy access, cleaner air and better public health. They understand that we can no longer burn our way to global prosperity.
I welcome IRENA’s work to transform the global energy system. Your efforts complement those of the United Nations. Together, we can make progress on the twin challenges of sustainable growth and climate change while striking a blow against extreme poverty. This is the objective of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative that I launched last year.
Your Director-General, Mr. Adnan Amin, is a member of my High-level Group. It is developing an Action Plan and building a network of Governments, companies, investors and civil society organizations that are making commitments that will be unveiled at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June this year. The Group will focus on how to achieve the three complementary objectives I have set, all to be achieved by 2030. First, to provide universal access to modern energy services; second, to double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and third, to double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
IRENA’s contribution will be invaluable. You can provide timely analysis on renewable energy technologies. You can suggest policy frameworks that can unleash innovation and investment, and on strategies needed to scale up successful models.
Doubling the share of renewables is ambitious but achievable. And the benefits far outweigh the costs — which include growing energy insecurity and accelerating climate change. Renewable energy can also address inequity and advance universal energy access. Hydro, wind and other renewable energy technologies — large and small, on-grid and off — are expanding opportunity in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. This is a triple win for communities around the world — for economic growth, and for the planet.
Now, more than ever, the world needs bold leadership to make the promise of renewable energy a reality. We meet here at the start of the global launch of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. It is also 20 years since the Rio Earth Summit laid a blueprint for sustainable development. Two decades ago, we were just glimpsing the emerging challenges of climate change, desertification, land degradation and the loss of species. Today many of those concerns have become urgent. Sustainable energy will figure prominently at Rio+20. I count on IRENA’s contribution to making Sustainable Energy for All a success, and to creating the future we want.
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