– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

11 January 2020

President of IRENA’s 10th Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, H.E. Ally Kirunda Kivejinja,

UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi

Director General of IRENA Mr. Francesco La Camera


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by sending a condolence message to the government and people of Oman regarding the passing of Sultan Qaboos. May His Soul rest in peace.

I am honoured to participate in the opening of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s 10th Assembly.

I thank IRENA for its tireless efforts to support the global economy’s transition to renewable energy.

2020 marks the beginning of the Decade of Action and Delivery for the Sustainable Development Goals (the SDGs).

We must begin this New Year with renewed focus and unwavering zeal to deliver on the commitments we have made to the peoples of the world.

IRENA’s work is a vital component of this global effort.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United Arab Emirates for its support to IRENA and to sustainable development overall, and to commend its leadership on this issue.

I also congratulate the UAE on its selection during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) to host the first Regional Climate Week in the Middle East and North Africa during Expo 2020 Dubai.


Last November, COP25 in Madid, ended on a disappointing note, with the international community could not reach a consensus on binding commitments and vital issues relating to climate change.

Our gathering today demonstrates that despite this setback, the international community will heed the call of the peoples of the world, especially our young people, to act urgently.

In order to do so, we need to recognize the indispensable role of multilateral cooperation to facilitate what the science informs us as minimally necessary to our survival: carbon neutrality by 2050, and a cap of 1.5 degrees temperature rise.

Although global renewable energy deployments grew by 8.5% annually between 2015 and 2018, installed capacity deployments will only increase by 3.6% annually by 2030, per current Nationally Determined Contributions.

In this context, fulfilling the Paris Agreement on Climate Change will require deploying renewable energy six times faster than the current rate.

In addition, achieving the 1.5 degrees cap will require a 5 fold increase in investment in energy efficiency measures.


Of particular interest to me is IRENA’s work as one of the custodians of the UN’s mandate on “SDG 7: Sustainable Energy for All.”

This is vital to facilitate a fair and just transition to the new Green economy via clean fuels and technologies, universal access to electricity, and improved energy efficiency. Progress on SDG7 will inevitably lead to progress on other SDGs targets such as poverty reduction and job creation, food and water security, better health outcomes, and gender equality.

Thanks to support from IRENA, the UN system and other partners, we have made progress on SDG 7 in critical areas between 2010 and 2017.

During this period, the number of people without access to electricity fell from 1.2 billion to 840 million. This decrease coincided with a spike in the green economy.

The renewable energy sector created jobs employing 11 million people around the world, including over 100 thousand people working on off-grid solar deployments in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, significant progress has been made regarding access to clean cooking fuel. The number of people without clean cooking fuel decreased by 60 million from 2010 to 2017. Unfortunately, on this point, huge disparities remain between urban areas – where 83% have access to clean cooking fuel – and rural areas, where only 24% have such access.

Cooking with unsafe fuels has negative consequences, including roughly 4 million premature deaths each year from indoor air pollution, primarily killing women and children. This is unacceptable.


The UN’s 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report concluded that dramatically changing our consumption and production patterns would require investing in a structural shift in global energy, transport, food production, and urban systems.

This is especially true of cities, in light of unprecedented urbanization rates. Cities contribute more than 70% of global emissions.

We need to practice climate-conscious decision-making in terms of planning, transport, and energy efficiency, when it comes to our cities and urban infrastructure.

We must partner with leaders of cities and local authorities, businesses, Non-Governmental Organizations, indigenous groups and civil society to take climate action at national and global levels.

We must also ensure that adequate Disaster Risk Reduction planning is undertaken to protect renewable energy infrastructure from natural disasters, strengthen resilience to disasters, and facilitate more rapid post-disaster recovery.

IRENA is a strategic partner in the UN’s endeavor to push for these urgent climate actions. Its role as a partner to the UN system was evident from announcements made during the UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit last year, such as partnerships for Small Island Developing States Lighthouses initiative, the Climate Investment Platform, and the Coalition for Sustainable Energy Access.

IRENA can also play a significant role in supporting the United Nations’ own sustainability efforts, in particular through the UN’s Greening the Blue 2030 Strategy.

Increasing renewable energy use in the UN’s peacekeeping and humanitarian operations can create lasting development gains for the communities we serve, and bring the UN one step closer to living our values.

More engagement and cooperation among IRENA, the UN system and Member States is required to build upon these initiatives. As always, multilateral cooperation is critical in creating the world we desire.

The benefits of transition towards renewable energy are not only economic. It is anticipated that the geopolitics of the energy transition, including expanded regional coordination and integrated energy grids, will contribute towards regional and international cooperation. This will also strengthen the spirit of multilateralism that is necessary to create the world we want.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly


I look forward to IRENA’s participation in the three General Assembly-mandated environmental events I will preside over in the course of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. This is with a view to charting a way forward on these mandates.

On SDG 14, Life Below Water, I will convene the 2020 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal from 2-6 June of this year. Ahead of this conference, I will convene a preparatory meeting from 4-5 February 2020, to decide on the interactive dialogues, and generate inputs to inform the first draft of the declaration for the conference.

On SDG 15, Life on Land, I will convene a High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, also to be held in June. For this event, I will be collaborating with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). My objective is to highlight the effects of land degradation on the entire 2030 agenda.

Furthermore, I will convene a Biodiversity Summit to help build political momentum leading up to the Convention on Biodiversity or COP 15, scheduled for October 2020 in Kunming, China.

Action is needed to restore degraded land, including deploying renewable energy to make our food systems more sustainable and to support efforts to restore global ecosystems, and the biodiversity upon which humanity’s future depends. We must identify and forge synergies on these interrelated issues by mobilizing all stakeholders to act, as it is clear that the solutions to our current challenges will only be found through collective action.


Thoughtfully transitioning towards the new Green economy will offer great opportunities for economic growth, including adding 7 million more jobs to the global economy. To ensure this transition, we must put in place necessary frameworks, planning procedures, funding mechanisms and social protections.

We must ensure that women fully participate in all these, by addressing current structural imbalances against them, including in Education and Job Opportunities in  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

I took part in the first IRENA youth forum yesterday and witnessed firsthand, how passionate and committed the youth are to accelerating the energy transition. We must continue to actively engage them.


The benefits of transition towards renewable energy are not only economic. It is anticipated that the geopolitics of the energy transition, including expanded regional coordination and integrated energy grids, will contribute towards regional and international cooperation. This will also strengthen the spirit of multilateralism that is necessary to create the world we want.

I encourage IRENA to continue its partnerships to turn these potential gains into realities. I believe that this Assembly’s Meeting will inspire more renewable energy initiatives, as this is key to resolving the climate emergencies that we face.

I thank you for listening and wish you all a happy and fruitful New Year.