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

Closing Remarks
“How the private sector can contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda”

Distinguished panelists and participants,
Mr. Jose Alberto Alderete, General Director of Itaipu – Paraguay,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to be with you today and to provide closing remarks to this important event.

Let me start by thanking Itaipu for inviting me to this event and extend my congratulations to all of you for your fruitful discussion.

We have heard from the distinguished panelists about the challenges that climate change presents to the world and the opportunities that implementation of the SDGs represent not only to governments and civil society but also to the private sector.

In particular, we have heard very interesting examples of strategies designed to tackle water, energy and climate change goals in a holistic manner. These can help ensure sustainable solutions that represent “best practices” to follow worldwide.

From the presentations and discussions, it is clear that we need to continue mobilizing and scaling up multi-stakeholder efforts to achieve sustainable development. The private sector will need to continue playing a key role.

Realizing the transformative vision set out by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement means that we must work together in a united fashion, addressing critical issues with a sense of real urgency.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has reminded us: climate change is still moving faster than we are.

We face a direct existential threat.
And there is a real humanitarian cost to it.

Droughts, floods and extreme weather events are displacing people as never before and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The private sector understands that achieving sustainable development and addressing climate change are major objectives that will bring benefits to everyone. The private sector has already made major investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and consequently helping to mitigate climate change. Major efforts are also underway to improve the use of water resources and to promote integrated water management, ensuring the protection of water and terrestrial ecosystems. These efforts by the private sector support nations’ strategies for adapting to climate change impacts.

As we can see, energy and water are key factors at the heart of the interconnected agendas of sustainable development and climate change.

A transformative approach to energy and water is therefore essential not only to SDG6 and SDG7; most importantly, it can make all our Sustainable Development Goals possible.

It can reduce poverty. It can power innovation and industrialization. It can deliver essential health services and empower women and youth. And it can address food security and mitigate climate change.

Recent trends underpin the critical importance of this transformative approach. Energy is responsible for over 70 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, despite efficiency gains.
Water-related disasters have accounted for almost 90 per cent of the 1,000 most devastating natural disasters since 1990. The damage caused by water-related disasters is enormous – ranging from 15 to 40 per cent of annual GDP for some small economies. Higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions are projected to affect the availability and distribution of rainfall and river flows.

Without a doubt, committing to action on water and energy is indispensable for meeting the Paris climate goals and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet there is still much to be done. The private sector is essential in providing innovation, technologies and business models for achieving the Goals.

In July last year, the United Nations High-Level Political Forum reviewed in depth six SDGs, including Goal 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation and Goal 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy.

The conclusion from the HLPF review was clear. We are not on track to meet SDGs 6 and 7, because we are still not moving fast enough.

  • Worldwide, more than 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress, and 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
  • 1 billion people currently live without electricity, and
  • 3 billion people continue to lack access to clean cooking solutions.

We need water to produce and distribute energy, and we need energy to treat and deliver water to our homes.

Over the coming decades, the global demand for water and energy will continue to increase significantly.

Unless we take urgent action, this growing demand will translate into more greenhouse gas emissions.

We cannot address these issues separately. We need the participation of all the stakeholders.

To fight these complex and interconnected challenges, integrated approaches need to be implemented both by governments and the private sector.

This is why UN DESA and Itaipu Binational have joined efforts in the partnership entitled “Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions”. It includes a Global Network, where members from all regions and all constituencies are invited to join.


Today, we heard from the distinguished panelists about the importance of water and energy and experiences that represent best practices.

We welcome Itaipu Binacional’s work on its water and energy case studies describing best practices in the regional implementation of the SDGs in Paraguay and Brazil.

Ensuring progress in achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement will be greatly enhanced by making sure that the lessons and best practices shared today by the distinguished panelists are replicated.

Each best practice represents a reason for hope. But we need to do more. Moving forward, we have a number of opportunities. The private sector has a unique opportunity to promote integrated approaches across both agendas.

The 2019 High-Level Political Forum offers a critical occasion for reviewing and for catalyzing ambitious actions. It will meet under the auspices of ECOSOC in July, and under the auspices of the General Assembly at the Summit level in September, to take stock of the first four years of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Also in September, the Secretary-General will convene a Climate Change Summit to mobilize ambition, action and finance.

We need the support from all stakeholders to achieve prosperity and sustainable development for all.

Together, we can make it happen.

Thank you all for your valuable inputs.

I commend all your contributions.

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