UNITED NATIONS, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Senior UN officials on Thursday said the sustainable energy is critical to eradicate poverty and tackle climate change, urging greater investment and commitment to wholly transform the global energy landscape.
Sustainable energy is "the golden thread that links poverty eradication, equitable economic growth and a healthy environment," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the first annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum, which aims to generate momentum for his eponymous 2011 initiative that brings together governments, civil society and business to make sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030.
At the forum, the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014- 2024) was launched Thursday by the UN chief, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (by video) and UN General Assembly President John Ashe.
Ban explained that the Decade can bring the world closer to the goals of universal energy and a life of dignity and opportunity for all. "Modern energy services are the key to changing people's quality of life. Clinics can store life-saving vaccines. Children can study after dark. Cleaner cookstoves can save the lives of millions of women and children every year," he said.
"The benefits will be felt throughout society in all countries. That is why we must continue to build our initiative and bring more partners and stakeholders aboard," said Ban, adding that the Forum should be seen as an annual meeting place for the global energy community. "Here we can shape a new energy future. That future starts now."
The initial two years of the Decade would be focused on a campaign for energy access for women and children's health, according to Kandeh Yumkella, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and CEO of SE4ALL (Sustainable Energy for All).
While energy is a global issue, in many places, it is a woman's issue. It can mean the difference between safety and fear, freedom and servitude, and even life and death. "The world must come together to end energy poverty and ensure that the poor can manage their lives and thrive economically," he said.
Over 700 representatives of government, business, international organizations and civil society groups have gathered for the three- day forum, which started Wednesday, to assess progress on tens of billions of dollars in commitments made at the Rio+20 conference in June 2012 and to review innovative solutions to eliminate energy poverty and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is maturing and bearing fruit -- thanks to you," Ban told the Forum, noting that commitments worth many billions of dollars have been pledged and delivered. More than 80 developing countries have joined the initiative.
"From NGOs to multilateral development banks, we are working together for a common goal," said the Secretary-General, recalling the three targets of the initiative: ensuring universal access to modern energy services, and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.
Looking forward to the Sept. 23 climate summit in New York, the UN chief said, "The more you bring in terms of concrete deliverables, the more we can achieve towards our objectives, and the better we can support global efforts to combat climate change and strengthen resilience. I count on all actors here today to deliver new and expanded commitments and partnerships that will transform the global energy landscape."
In his remarks, Ashe said the history of the development of modern society is inextricably intertwined with the story of the development of energy and its impact on the natural, social and economic environments.
Energy is woven into the fabric of human life at all levels, and all people and all nations need access to energy to grow and prosper. But it is precisely for this reason that the crippling lack of access to sustainable energy services is so important to address at this point in time, he said.
"As we prepare to usher in a new development paradigm in the post-2015 era, the issue of sustainable energy for all must form an integral part of our deliberations on shaping a sustainable future," he declared, referring to the ongoing UN-led effort to craft a global development agenda to succeed the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).