Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Keynote Address
International Forum for Clean Energy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Clean energy stands at the center of global efforts to move towards greener economies and sustainable development, including poverty eradication. Clean energy technologies are recognized as important energy supply options as well as key resources for addressing universal energy access, energy security and climate change.  Although the role of clean energy is increasing in both developing and developed countries, the overall contribution of clean energy to global energy systems remains limited. There are also new uncertainties and challenges resulting from the international economic crisis as well as from changes in policies in some countries.

Therefore, I commend the International Sustainable Energy Council for organizing this Third International Forum for Clean Energy. The event provides a major platform for communication and cooperation and allows government representatives, the private sector, academia, research organizations, investors and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, knowledge and views on the critical issues facing this ongoing clean energy revolution.

Another major effort by the Council in support of clean energy is the publication of the 2014 Blue Book of Clean Energy. I am sure this important report will become a popular reference on key issues related to clean energy including innovative technologies, policies, markets, investment, financing and scaling up activities.

In the outcome of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “The Future We Want,” Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives recognized “the critical role that energy plays in the development process, as access to sustainable modern energy services contributes to poverty eradication, saves lives, improves health and helps provide for basic human needs.”

At the global level, the Secretary-General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative has made remarkable progress since it was launched in 2011. Its objectives include: achieving universal energy access to modern energy services, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by the year 2030. Strong support and ample mobilization by stakeholders are helping to move the global objectives of this initiative forward quickly.

The United Nations General Assembly also declared 2014-2024 the “United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All”, stressing the need for a coherent, integrated approach to energy issues. This resolution is already triggering projects and programmes by many Member States, UN agencies and international organizations.

Furthermore, clean energy figures prominently in the discussion on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals proposes a goal on “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all”.  The goal’s five targets propose to, by 2030:

  1. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services;
  2. increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix;
  3. double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
  4. enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and  technologies; and
  5. expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, particularly Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

All these efforts support a global move towards clean energy systems that promote low-carbon economies. These changes will eventually translate into major economic opportunities and effective improvements in the environment.

The last decade has seen record investments by many countries in the development, innovation, commercialization and scaling-up of clean energy technologies. At the global level investments in clean energy, including renewables and excluding large hydro-electric projects, reached a record of $279 billion in 2011. However, total global investments in clean energy fell 23 per cent to $214 billion in 2013. Despite this trend, we have seen a continuous increase in global clean energy use since 2012. Further, the overall number of countries with new renewable energy policies and targets has increased considerably. Technological advances, lower costs and innovative financing are making renewable energy technologies increasingly affordable in a growing number of countries.

Although some renewable energy industries have experienced difficulties due to continuing consolidation, industries are adapting rapidly with flexibility. They are diversifying their products while developing global supply chains. Also, the geographical distribution of renewables continues to widen, particularly in the developing world. In Latin America, the Middle East and Africa countries are installing projects that produce electricity at costs that challenge conventional power sources, often with no subsidy support. Investments are also growing in Asia-Oceania and the Americas.

From enhancing energy security to combating climate change and inducing sustainable development, the clean energy revolution is starting to define a new era. Clean energy is increasingly competitive. It has a key role to play in building efficient low-carbon economies. For these reasons, it should increase the confidence of Member States as they work towards adopting a meaningful agreement for combating climate change.

Transformation towards low-carbon economies in some leading countries should serve as an example for others to catalyze ambitious actions on the ground and accelerate political momentum for a universally accepted legal climate change agreement that is so greatly needed.

Transitioning to clean energy and ensuring universal access to modern energy services will not only help with the global challenge of climate change but will also help alleviate vulnerabilities in energy sectors. It will create decent jobs and expand opportunities for developing local industries, strengthening economies in all countries.

Nevertheless, more effort is needed to make the growth in clean energy self-sustaining, and to ultimately achieve critical universal goals. Economic, policy and technological factors are still impeding the large-scale deployment of clean energy systems. They include the need to further: (1) reduce costs through learning and scale-up; (2) create flexible investment environments; (3) integrate more clean energy technologies into energy systems; (4) enhance research and development; (5) maintain consistent and reliable policies supporting clean energy; and (6) assure the sustainability of clean energy technologies. In addition, many people are still unaware of the fantastic opportunities and positive outcomes that a shift towards clean and low carbon energy technologies brings.

In this connection, I have the pleasure to inform the meeting that this July, a new initiative was launched by the United Nations titled “Powering the Future We Want – Recognizing Innovative Practices in Energy for Sustainable Development”.  The initiative offers an annual grant in the amount of one million US dollars with the objective of promoting leadership and innovative practices in meeting the global energy challenge.  I encourage leaders in this field, individuals and institutions, to actively apply and bid for this award.

I am sure this event will provide an opportunity to build momentum and strengthen dialogue, accelerating universal energy access and enhancing the use of efficient and clean energy technologies. In addition, the event will help raise awareness of clean energy trends, related market dynamics, and commercial opportunities. It will also enhance international cooperation.

I would like to thank the organizers for convening this important event, which stresses critical aspects of implementation including financing, investing, and scaling up efforts on clean energy.

I wish you very fruitful discussions and I look forward to learning about the outcome of this important event.

Thank you.