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United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Statements

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

Washington, D.C., 19 April 2013 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Lunch on Sustainable Energy For All Initiative [As prepared for delivery]

It is my great pleasure to address this eminent audience on the timely and ground-breaking Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

Let me first of all remind you that we have less than 1,000 days of action left before the deadline in 2015 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, established in the year 2000.

Energy makes all our development objectives possible: from reducing poverty to improving sanitation; from powering essential health services to providing light for children to learn; from water and food security to environmental sustainability.

Energy will also be key to the post-2015 development agenda.

But it must be sustainable.

The world’s current energy systems are not sustainable.

One out of every five people on the planet still has no access to electricity. 

More than twice that number -- 2.8 billion people -- rely on wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste to cook their food and heat their homes.

This exposes them to toxic smoke that kills about 4 million people a year.

At the same time, the way we produce and use energy is raising the global thermostat.

We need a major transformation to satisfy the dramatic growth in energy demand, and to mitigate climate change.

The answer lies in deploying clean energy solutions on a massive scale to deliver modern energy services to every community on Earth. 

We have to harness the full potential of renewable energy sources. 

And we must increase energy efficiency and cut waste.

Therefore, we must invest in research and development that will create new, green technologies. 

This can create jobs, reduce poverty, and help build sustainable societies. 

Improving social equity and the environment are part of the same agenda – the sustainable development agenda.

It has been incubating for 40 years or more. 

But it has yet to become an integral part of our policy DNA.

We need an updated, 21st century roadmap to sustainability with coherent policies between sectors that will help us connect the dots between energy, water, food and climate change. 

Countries recognize the crucial role played by sustainable energy. 

That is why the United Nations General Assembly declared a Decade of Sustainable Energy for All beginning in 2014.

The Decade provides an excellent opportunity to place sustainable energy at the very heart of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

I said this initiative is ground-breaking.

Our location today – at the World Bank -- points to a new way of cooperating and making a difference. 

Together, the Secretary-General of the UN and the President of the World Bank are co-chairing this Advisory Board. 

This unprecedented partnership demonstrates the priority the UN and the World Bank give Sustainable Energy for All. 

Sustainable Energy for All represents a new model of co-operation emerging in the United Nations – where governments, multilateral institutions, civil society and business combine to tackle common challenges.

The private sector is the global engine of growth and the primary source of new investments.  As we have seen in other successful examples, such as the dramatic reduction in malaria mortality, it is an essential partner.

Supplying modern energy services to the billions who lack electricity and clean fuels is a unique business opportunity – a huge market that can create new levels of prosperity and demand for goods and services.

Equipping the rest of the world with low-carbon energy technologies is an even bigger proposition.

If we work together - governments, business, investors, and civil society – to create markets and reduce risk, investments will surely follow.

But all stakeholders must act.

A key element will be to put in place a reliable framework and the right incentives, including, I would strongly suggest, a price on carbon.

We also need a universal, legally binding climate agreement by 2015 – to support mitigation and adaptation in all countries.

To that end, the Secretary-General will next year convene in New York a high-level meeting on climate change to help bring us to the finish line in 2015.

Together we must make Sustainable Energy for All a reality in homes, schools, farms, clinics and businesses around the globe.

We will need your expertise and your experiences, your resources and networks as well as your vision and commitment.

We must ensure that sustainable energy can be accepted, indeed welcomed in the commercial marketplace.

We must also promote it in the political arena.  That is where policies are made that will shape the regulatory framework and investment environment for energy. 

To bring about transformative change, public funds must be leveraged with private capital.

But private investment depends on public policy to create a stable environment for business development.

You, in this room have the influence to pursue both objectives.

Already, this initiative has made remarkable progress since the Secretary-General launched it in late 2011.
Political support has come from all quarters.

More than 70 developing countries are now working with the initiative.

Tens of billions of dollars are being mobilized from governments and multilateral development banks.

Let us ensure that these funds and actions are transparent and accountable.

Here, too, the Initiative is breaking new ground with its Global Tracking Framework, which we will hear about later today.

I know you share my belief in Sustainable Energy for All.
This initiative provides a unique global platform for governments, the private sector and civil society to act together to achieve the three objectives set by the Secretary-General: access, efficiency and renewable energy.

You have a unique opportunity and I urge you to seize it.

We count on your leadership. 

Thank you.


Statements on 19 April 2013