At Rio Event, Secretary-General Says Energy Is Most Important Tool for Bringing World to More Sustainable Path, Where All Can Live with Dignity, Prosperity

22 June 2012

At Rio Event, Secretary-General Says Energy Is Most Important Tool for Bringing World to More Sustainable Path, Where All Can Live with Dignity, Prosperity

22 June 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

At Rio Event, Secretary-General Says Energy Is Most Important Tool for Bringing

World to More Sustainable Path, Where All Can Live with Dignity, Prosperity


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a gala reception for Sustainable Energy for All, in Rio de Janeiro, 21 June:

Yesterday, I was committed to participate in your meeting, but I am sorry that I was not able to participate directly in person because of all the hectic schedules but I was able to join by telephone.  In any way, I am very much appreciative of your strong support and vision.

This is my twelfth side event that I have been attending, only today.  All the people, all the delegations who have been participating on this and that side events, they were there with serious reasons.  I think you are also with a very serious cause — energy.

But as soon as I entered this room — and I have been hearing all your speeches — everybody seems to be in a very festive mood.

First of all, the President and Government have demonstrated their leadership, and they made this outcome document already almost agreed.

At the prepcom, they have gathered at least.  We have to adopt this tomorrow afternoon, but I am sure that the Member States will adopt it, so everybody is light-hearted.

The energy issue has gotten the most support, strongest support, in the course of our negotiation, and this is the most important initiative as a golden thread.

Everybody understands, it is well reflected in [the] outcome document, and I really thank you for all your support, strong engagement and leadership.

While I am standing here, with a very much festive mood, I thought that somehow it may be all right for me to say just a few jokes, to make even lighter.

How many negotiators do you think are needed to change a light bulb?  How many negotiators, how many people?

You might have heard this very funny joke.  It is just ridiculous, you need three persons to change a light bulb.  One holding a light bulb, and somebody, he has to step on a chair, and somebody should hold the chair.  And the third person should turn his body over the person who is holding the chair.

For negotiators, we need three negotiators.  They are very serious.  First thing the negotiators are doing, do you know what, they just [inaudible] it.  So then you want to change light bulb, the first negotiator will break it.  The second negotiator will break it off.  Only the third negotiator can change a light bulb.

This has been very difficult, time-consuming, painfully slow negotiations.

Now how many UN staff would be necessary to change a light bulb?

Do you know how many?  Four thousand.

Why 4,000?  I made a decision that all these four thousand people working in [the] UN building must go out at once for renovation, because we wanted to change all light bulbs in the buildings.  By the time we move back to the very landmark historic building, we will be able to save at least 50 per cent energy efficiency.  So we will need maybe just half a bulb per person, by that time.  So 4,000 [inaudible].

Now how many partners do you think to change a bulb?

I have been counting, I think we need all the partners here.  All the partners to change a bulb.  So this we have to give light bulbs to 1.4 billion people, and I am very encouraged and grateful to many of you [who] have already made such a generous support.  Fifty billion dollars.  I don’t know how many years you have to count if you want to give me one dollar a day.  Maybe, I will not be able to count it during my lifetime.  One hundred years maybe.  Again, I would like to thank [inaudible] for such a generous support.

I am told by our senior advisers that during this period we have received tens of billions of dollars of commitments.  This is a huge, huge commitment, and I hope this will really help in lighting the world — lighting the world for 1.4 billion people.

As you know, we have set three targets:  energy access; doubling the efficiency of energy; and doubling the rate of renewable energy in the global energy mix.  These are very ambitious targets, but I am told by you, our high-level expert advisers, that this can be done, this can be done.

I am very much encouraged by this outcome document by this Rio+20.  This is my first time, in attending this mega, massive, huge-scale multilateral meeting, but even before my arrival, the agreement was almost done.

So I arrived here with very light heart because I did not need to engage in many, many delegations.  I have mobilized many tens of our senior advisers here.  They were mobilized here to just engage in all delegations, to convince them, so that we can really agree on an ambitious, very concrete outcome document for humanity.

I really appreciate Brazilian diplomacy, and I appreciate President Dilma Rousseff for her strong commitment to make this happen, and all other delegations who showed such a sense of flexibility for [the] common good, common humanity.

In there, energy is the most important tool.  We have been discussing climate change, water scarcity, [the] food crisis, gender empowerment, sanitation, health, organizations, liveable cities, transportation, [and] disaster risk reduction.

How can you do it without energy?  That is why energy is the golden thread and everybody agrees and I am very glad.

I have been congratulated upon by so many people that you are making a great success in energy, and I am only grateful to all [these] high-level members of this energy group and I hope that we can work together to put all of us and our coming generations on a greater sustainable path.

Let us bring this world to a greater sustainable path where everybody can live with dignity and harmony and prosperity.  Again I thank you very much.  Let us work together.

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