Mr. Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Session 1: Global Energy Interconnection for Promoting
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Thank you, Mr. Cheng Zhiqiang.

Honourable Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to speak on progress made in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted in his opening remarks this morning, the 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

It seeks to strengthen peace and security in larger freedom and it is a universal agenda, to be implemented by all countries, both developed and developing alike.

It relies on a global partnership for its success.

What are the transformative features of this Agenda?

Why is the 2030 Agenda different from previous action plans of the United Nations?

How does it advance sustainable energy?

These questions are closely related to our Symposium today.

So, let me share with you my views on these questions.
First, the 2030 Agenda is a universal agenda. Both developed and developing countries must act to implement it.

Before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, UN action plans on development were mainly intended for implementation by developing countries.

The 2030 Agenda is an agenda for all.

Indeed, of the 113 countries that have reported, or are in the process of reporting, on their national response to the 2030 Agenda, 32 are from developed countries.

The engagement of developed countries demonstrates the shared responsibility of every country in the world toward a sustainable future.

Second, the 2030 Agenda, with its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, put a strong emphasis on inter-linkages.

This may sound very ordinary but in reality it calls for a change in mindset, a radically different approach to development.

It calls for us to think horizontally, work across sectors and act holistically.

It requires us to maximize the synergies between and among the SDGs and targets. For example, progress in implementing SDG7 on energy is bound to impact delivery on other SDGs.

Likewise, without increased access to modern energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy, there will be no progress on climate action.

So, we need to move from silo to synergy.

Indeed, the United Nations is reforming its development system in response to the 2030 Agenda so that we can provide more coherent support to member States.

Third, the 2030 Agenda calls for a commitment to “leaving no one behind”. It is imperative that we focus on the wellbeing of the most vulnerable groups – children, women, youth, older persons, and persons with disabilities, among others.

This commitment will make the tasks of implementation harder, costlier. But it represents a collective vision of a better world for all, not just a few.

Fourth, given the enormous tasks ahead, we must work in partnership.

Governments alone will not be able to deliver on SDGs.

Everyone must contribute. Business, NGOs, the scientific community, parliament, and others, all have a role to play.
Fifth, effective follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda requires systemic monitoring. We must monitor progress to ensure strong momentum.

The collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of an unprecedented amount of reliable, timely, accessible, and sufficiently disaggregated data will be key to SDG delivery.

In this regard, considerable progress has been made at the global level, including the adoption of the global indicator framework and the launch of the Global SDG Indicator Database.

But we must do more at the country level, to help developing countries address the identified gaps in data and methodology, and search for solutions that best fit their national context, including defining national targets and indicators.


The 2030 Agenda was adopted in September 2015.

So, are we on track?

Yesterday, I received from my staff the 2017 Synthesis Report, summarising the voluntary national reports submitted by 43 countries.

Based on these reports and the previous 22, I am pleased to report that two years after the adoption of the historic 2030 Agenda, the momentum for implementation remains strong.

In line with the interlinkages of the 2030 Agenda, many Governments are according priority attention to policy integration and coherence.

More and more countries are integrating SDGs into national constitutions, development plans and strategies, with several countries introducing SDGs into national legislation.

Stakeholder participation is on the rise, and business, civil society and the scientific community remain engaged on the frontline of implementation.

Significantly, we are also beginning to see a shift in paradigm, in mentality and in action, with closer attention to leaving no one behind and more efforts to seek collaborative solutions.

Distinguished delegates,

While encouraging progress is under way in many areas, the pace of progress is yet insufficient to fully meet the Sustainable Development Goals and targets by 2030.

3 weeks ago, I reported to the Second Committee of the General Assembly that progress has not always been equitable.

Advancements have been uneven across regions, between the sexes, and among people of different ages, wealth and locales, including urban and rural dwellers.

A more detailed analysis is available in the Secretary-General’s report on progress toward the SDGs.

The key message is that we must keep the momentum strong, to stay on track.

And faster and more inclusive progress is needed to accomplish the bold vision articulated in the 2030 Agenda.

In this broad context, what is the role of SDG 7 on energy?

The United Nations has long recognized energy as one of the most important preconditions for achieving worldwide poverty eradication and sustainable development.

As you have already heard, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes, as one of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a goal on energy (SDG 7) that calls for action to “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, with specific targets on universal access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Two weeks ago, in my message to a workshop on SDG7 in Oslo, I made three points, which I want to share today.

First, ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is fundamental to a peaceful, inclusive and sustainable work.

It is also a necessary investment in our collective future.

Second, energy is inextricably linked to most of the global challenges now and in the future, including poverty, food security, clean water, infrastructure, public health, education, economic growth, youth’s and women’s empowerment, and climate change.

Indeed, as often said, energy is the golden thread that connects all SDGs.

Third, access to modern energy must go beyond residential power access.

It must aim to unlock new entrepreneurial opportunities for the growing workforce, so that they can become the next global engine for the new economies of the future.

Enormous technological progress is reducing the cost of energy systems globally.

New technologies, new business models, and new approaches to capacity building are all needed to transform the world and achieve global sustainable development.

The global energy interconnection, through SMART GRIDS, offers one such avenue.
You are going to hear more from the next speaker.

But global energy interconnection, or GEI, can only work in partnership.

The technology for worldwide energy connectivity is there. The barriers are institutional, not technological.

We must change our mindset.

We can make decisive progress only if we act together. Partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources are indispensable to success.


When we look back over the pathway of our civilization, we often marvel at the power of ideas – ideas that change the course of history; ideas that transform the wellbeing of our society.

Often, many such ideas may appear as too good, too visionary to be true.

The 2030 Agenda is one such idea.

It holds the promise of transforming our world, putting us on a sustainable track.
But we must keep marching toward 2030.

And we must do this in partnership.

Together, we have embarked on a historic mission – to achieve a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, for everyone.

This vision inspires us, giving us hope, direction, and energy.

Let us work together to turn that vision into reality on the ground.

Thank you.

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