‘You Are Our Global Ambassadors,’ Secretary-General Tells Friends of Sustainable Development for All, Calling on Them to ‘Swell Our Ranks’

22 April 2013

‘You Are Our Global Ambassadors,’ Secretary-General Tells Friends of Sustainable Development for All, Calling on Them to ‘Swell Our Ranks’

22 April 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

‘You Are Our Global Ambassadors,’ Secretary-General Tells Friends of Sustainable

Development for All, Calling on Them to ‘Swell Our Ranks’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Friends of Sustainable Energy for All, in New York, 22 April:

I thank the Permanent Missions of Denmark, Norway and Pakistan for organizing this meeting of the Friends of Sustainable Energy for All.

Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., where I co-chaired the first meeting of the initiative’s Advisory Board together with Dr. Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank.  This was the first time the heads of our two global institutions have co-chaired such an effort.  Our collaboration marks a new era of UN-World Bank relations.

Sustainable energy for all is a top priority for both our institutions.  Energy powers growth and opportunity.  It makes all other development goals possible, from reducing poverty to improving sanitation; from powering essential health services to providing light for children to learn; from water to food security to environmental sustainability.

Today, nearly one out of every five people lacks access to electricity.  More than twice that number — 2.8 billion people — rely on wood, charcoal, animal and crop waste, or other solid fuels to cook their food and heat their homes.  Some 4 million people a year die from the effects of inhaling toxic smoke, and a vastly higher number have their health impaired.

We need to make modern energy services available to all.  But, we have to do so in a sustainable manner.  Our current energy systems are not sustainable.  The global thermostat is rising, threatening development goals and economies small and large.  We need a paradigm shift — a transformation — in the way we produce, use and share energy.

That is why I launched the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative in 2011.  It is why the UN General Assembly last year declared the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, beginning in 2014.   And it is why energy is prominent in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

I have set the objectives to be accomplished by 2030:  first, ensuring universal access to all the people around the world; second, doubling efforts to improve energy efficiency; and, thirdly, doubling the share of renewable energy in the overall global energy mix.

To reach these goals, we need Governments, businesses and civil society to work in partnership for the common good.  It sounds ambitious and challenging, but it is doable.  First, Governments set priorities and create the policy framework.  We cannot mobilize private resources without a public lever.  Second, the private sector is essential for investment, for research and development and for delivering sustainable results on the ground.  Third, the role of civil society:  it, too, has a critical role, providing insights into what communities need most.

I welcome leaders from Governments, business and civil society here today.  You are our global ambassadors, and I count on you to swell our ranks.  “Sustainable Energy for All” is our opportunity to enhance social equity, provide sustainable economic vigour and help combat climate change.

The initiative is maturing.  Our new Advisory Board met for the first time last Friday.  Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, my designated Special Representative for “Sustainable Energy for All”, will soon be fully on board.  We are moving into a new phase.  Now we need to mobilize action, and turn commitments to kilowatts.  Your support is vital.  I am grateful for all you have done so far to support the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, and I count on your active leadership going forward.  I wish you a productive meeting.  Thank you very much.

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