Secretary-General Briefs Member States on ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ Initiative, Names Leaders of High-Level Action Group

1 November 2011

Secretary-General Briefs Member States on ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ Initiative, Names Leaders of High-Level Action Group

1 November 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Briefs Member States on ‘Sustainable Energy for All’

Initiative, Names Leaders of High-Level Action Group


This is the text of remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to General Assembly Members in New York today at a briefing on “Sustainable Energy for All”:

Energy is central to everything we do, from powering our economies to empowering women, from generating jobs to strengthening security.  It cuts across all sectors of government and lies at the heart of a country’s core interests.

Yesterday, we marked the global population topping 7 billion people.  One person in five lacks access to modern energy; 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or dung for cooking and heating.  They are energy-poor.  And energy poverty translates into grinding, dehumanizing poverty.  Now more than ever, the world needs to ensure that the benefits of sustainable modern energy are available to all.

Energy poverty is a threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  It holds back economic growth and job creation.  At the same time, we must move very rapidly toward a clean energy economy to prevent the dangerous warming of our planet.  We need to catalyse low-carbon economic opportunity across the globe, particularly in developing countries where needs are greatest.

Last year, the General Assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  This September, I launched my “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative.  It contributes to the Year by mobilizing action by all key stakeholders – governments, the private sector and civil society.

Today I am releasing my vision statement on sustainable energy for all.  I have set three objectives, all to be achieved by 2030.  First:  ensure universal access to modern energy services.  Second:  double the rate of improvement of energy efficiency.  Third:  double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The world is hungry for solutions to global challenges.  This initiative provides them on multiple levels.  Taken in combination, these objectives will enhance equity, revitalize the global economy, and help protect the ecosystems that sustain us.  I call these the three Es:  equity, economy and ecosystems.  These are one and the same agenda:  the sustainable development agenda.  We cannot make lasting progress in one without progress on all.

I have heard strong support for “Sustainable Energy for All” across the spectrum.  The up-front costs are not small.  But the long-term returns can be massive.  Sustainable energy for all offers powerful benefits – for stimulating economic growth, reducing poverty, cleaner air, reduced mortality and reduced risk of dangerous climate change.

What is standing between us and these achievements?  Political will — and resources both private and public.

The “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative is gathering the broad-based support we need — from developed countries, emerging economies, developing countries, the private sector and civil society.  Today I am pleased to announce the members of the High-Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All.  The Group is co-chaired by Kandeh Yumkella, the Chair of United Nations Energy and Executive Director of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Charles Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America.  The “Sustainable Energy for All” Group includes more than 30 distinguished global leaders from around the world – business, finance, governments, civil society.  The Group will develop an action agenda in support of the 2030 goal.  It will mobilize a broad range of stakeholders who can catalyse commitments and form partnerships that can be launched at Rio+20.

I urge you to lend your support.  Together we can make sustainable energy for all a catalyst for lasting economic growth that benefits all people, gives opportunity to the poor and protects the planet.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.