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The United Nations Secretary-General recently launched a pioneering new initiative, “Sustainable Energy for All,” to mobilize urgent global action. The Initiative brings all sectors of society to the table: business, governments, investors, community groups and academia. The United Nations is the ideal institution to convene this broad swathe of actors and forge common cause in support of three inter-linked objectives:
 
  •          Ensure universal access to modern energy services.
  •          Double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
  •          Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
 
These objectives are complementary. Progress in achieving one can help with progress toward the others.  All are to be achieved by 2030, and all are necessary to achieve sustainable energy for all. The Secretary-General’s Initiative contributes to the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All in 2012, as declared by all UN Member States, by mobilising action from all key stakeholders.
 
Leadership that Energizes:  The Secretary-General’s High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All
 
Two leading figures from the worlds of business and public service, Charles Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America, and Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of UN-Energy and Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization, co-chair the Secretary-General’s High-level Group. Together with other distinguished members of the High-level Group, they will mobilize commitments from all sectors of society to expand energy access, improve efficiency, and increase the uptake of renewable energy.
 
The immediate task of the Group is to recommend an Action Agenda on the basis of which all stakeholders can make concrete commitments to move the world toward sustainable energy for all by 2030. The Group will also design processes for shared learning and accountability – to enable participants to communicate about successes and failures and to ensure that commitments are kept and progress is tracked in an open and transparent way.
 
Commitments that Catalyze Action
 
New and scaled-up commitments to sustainable energy for all will drive action on the ground. At Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the Secretary-General will invite all stakeholders to announce their commitments in support of an Action Agenda that generates game-changing momentum for a sustainable energy future.
 
Action commitments will be transparent and monitored. Commitments will be forged in corporate board rooms, government ministries, and thousands of local communities around the world and take many forms.
 
  •          Governments can develop national energy plans and targets, provide financial support, and remove perverse tariffs and subsidies.
  •          Companies can make their operations and supply chains more energy efficient and form public-private partnerships to expand sustainable energy products and services.
  •          Investors can provide seed money for clean technologies and invest in both on- and off-grid energy solutions.
  •          Industry, government, and academia can contribute new research. Civil society groups can train people, conduct advocacy, and encourage transparency.
 
Building the Future We Want through Sustainable Energy
 
The Rio+20 Conference is but the opening chapter of this initiative. Efforts to expand sustainable energy have already begun and will accelerate over the coming two decades.
 
Sustainable energy for all is an idea whose time has come. Turning ideas into action depends on us all. There is no time like the present to power a brighter future.