New York

20 May 2015

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Opening of the Global Energy Ministerial Meeting [as delivered]

I am honoured to join you today at this truly impressive Forum for Sustainable Energy and I thank you for your engagement and for your commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Already at the outset, I wish to thank Special Representative Yumkella, who, as many know, will be stepping down in July.  Let me express our deep gratitude to you, Kandeh, for your drive and your tremendous accomplishments for the SE4All initiative. Your role has been inspirational and decisive for the progress made.

We meet at a crucial moment for our development agenda as a whole, and for sustainable energy in particular.

As you know, 2015 is a milestone year for the United Nations and the Member States.  World leaders have recognised that the road to achieve shared prosperity now and in the future is to live up to and balance economic, social and environmental imperatives.

For too long, we have pursued growth along a pathway that does not respect the ecological limits of the planet and the need to live in better balance with Nature.  This year the international community will set a new course – one that integrates the different elements of sustainable development into a universal agenda.

Three meetings this year will chart our course for the coming sustainable development era:

First, in Addis Ababa in July, to agree on a new forward-looking financing framework for development.

Second, in New York in September, to adopt a bold universal new post-2015 development agenda with concrete sustainable development goals.

And third, in Paris in December, to reach a robust universal climate agreement.

Our aim is – and must be – to bring about transformative change across sectors and across societies. We need new approaches that go to the heart of unsustainable production and consumption patterns – across agriculture, industry, infrastructure and transport, and from factories to offices, from homes to market places.

Energy use is the thread that runs through many elements of this agenda.  Sustainable energy is the nexus that connects economic growth, social equity, and protection of the environment.  It is central to tackling climate change.  And it is indispensable to a life in dignity for all.

The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is challenging and mobilizing governments, the business and finance sectors, civil society and the scientific community to transform the world’s energy systems.

More than 80 developing countries have joined the initiative. Commitments worth billions of dollars have already been made. On the ground, we see concrete actions taken across sectors and industries, from the ambitious “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative recently launched by the Secretary-General and the World Bank President together with 18 countries, oil companies and development institutions,  to public-private partnerships to scale up energy efficiency efforts in support of COP 21.

Around the world, we see profound changes in how energy is supplied and in how energy is used.  These changes drive development, improve individual lives and limit the impact on our climate and environment.

But we have to manage these changes in a way which ensures that they benefit all people.  For that, we need an effective framework which balances cooperation and competition and aims to leave no on behind.

Member States have already indicated that energy will be part of this new generation of development goals.  Now we must ensure that means of implementation are equal to the task.  The Sustainable Energy for All initiative has demonstrated the feasibility of public-private partnerships for sustainable development.  It will be very important to bring this message to the meetings in Addis, New York and Paris this year. 

In today’s world, the complex challenges we face demand solutions that involve all stakeholders. No sector alone can slow climate change or reverse biodiversity loss.  No single entity can end poverty and promote equality. 

Success depends on Governments, companies, investors, educators, scientists, civil society and citizens acting in concert.  Acting in concert.  Working together, we can light rural clinics, empower local businesses, invigorate economies and protect the environment.

All of us here, all of you here, have a great responsibility. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical duties in this year of action. The task head is daunting, yes – but it’s also inspiring. Let us not regard it as a burden, but rather as an opportunity. In today’s world, good international solutions are in the national interest of our own countries.

We are grateful that this venerable General Assembly Hall today is filled with decision-makers, innovators, financiers, women and men of influence. I urge you to create networks and make friends and make connections.  We want you to make bold commitments and forge partnerships to reduce emissions and find energy solutions.  We also want you to better utilise financial resources and vigorously drive markets to bring sustainable energy to all.

By working together in pursuit of our shared aims, we can secure lives in dignity for all– today and for the generations to come.

Let us accept and meet this historic challenge.

Thank you.