Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Welcome remarks
High-Level Luncheon Building Global Energy Interconnection and Achieving Worldwide Sustainable Development of Energy

Your Excellency, Mr. LIU ZHENYA, Chairman of Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization,
Your Excellency Dr. Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of African Union Commission,
Your Excellency Dr. Peter Littlewood, Director of Argonne National Laboratory,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to this high-level panel discussion and luncheon.

The theme for today’s discussion is energy connectivity and its crucial role in achieving sustainable development.

As all of you know, last year was exceptional for international cooperation. World leaders adopted the visionary 2030 Agenda, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets. They also adopted the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

A transformative approach to energy lies at the heart of these visions.

Achieving SDG 7 on energy, with its three targets on universal access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, will open a new world of opportunity for billions of people.

It will lay the foundation for the eradication of hunger and poverty, for climate action and for a sustainable world.

In this regard, let me highlight some of the numbers:

• Over 1 billion people worldwide still live without access to electricity.
• Nearly 3 billion people use wood, charcoal, or animal waste to cook their meals.

• Toxic smoke kills 4.3 million people a year, most of them women and children.

• The share of renewable energy in the world’s total final energy consumption has increased slowly, from 17 per cent in 2000 to 18 per cent in 2012.

This rate of growth is insufficient to achieve the renewable energy target of SDG 7 by 2030.

Energy intensity decreased at a similarly unsatisfactory rate.

To put it simply, we will not be able to achieve the energy SDG by 2030, at current pace of progress. More needs to be done.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In September 2015, President Xi Jinping announced, at the Sustainable Development Summit, that China would propose discussions on establishing a Global Energy Interconnection mechanism to facilitate efforts to meet global energy demand with clean and green alternatives.

This announcement came on the heels of the unprecedented efforts of the government to achieve 100 per cent access to electricity.

With the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, China is looking to a future powered by sustainable energy.

Global Energy Interconnection is a concept that can provide added value, speeding up energy efficiency and energy transformation, while advancing clean energy development and addressing climate change.

The cost of renewable energy continues to come down, while investments increase. The numbers are clear: 50 per cent of global power sector investments went to renewables as a result of cost reductions and accelerated innovation.

This provides a golden opportunity to scale up global efforts. Many developing countries and regions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are rich in renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydro and geothermal.

Through increased Global Energy Interconnection, those resources could be connected and converted into economic advantage that would benefit all, narrow regional gaps, and make a significant contribution to the peaceful and harmonious development of the world.

I applaud Mr. Liu for so quickly turning President Xi’s commitment into concrete action through the establishment of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization.
As we now move forward with this concept, one thing, however, is clear – there will be challenges – in financing, in means of implementation, in innovation, in creating global and regional cooperation and in bridging differences.

In my view, there is one more challenge -changing our mindset – are we ready?

Can we work together, innovate together, break silos? Can we coordinate, across ministries, agencies, sectors, disciplines, as well as between local, provincial and central government levels?

Answering these questions is as important as answering the questions on finance, technology, infrastructure, and partnerships.

I think an informed, balanced and objective discussion will prove a fruitful starting point.

I am therefore delighted to welcome all guests and especially my co-host, Mr. Liu, and the distinguished panelists, Dr. Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim of the African Union, and Dr. Peter B. Littlewood of Argonne National Laboratory in the United States.

I look forward to an interesting, informative and inspiring discussion.

Thank you.

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