VIENNA, 20 January 2014 - A Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General's Special Representative and Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), Luis Gomez-Echeverri, has called for a greater political commitment worldwide to addressing the energy and environment challenges that the world faces.

"We have the knowledge, the technologies and the resources in place to address these challenges," he said as he moderated a high-level panel on "Energy and Environment" held at the United Nations Offices in Vienna as part of the 2014 Academic Council on the United Nations Conference (ACUNS) on the over-arching theme: "Facing Changing Realities -The Evolution of UN Policies."

Speaking on the major changes of the past two decades, Mr. Gomez-Echeverri noted that a major transformation of the international system, a greater scientific knowledge that provided greater clarity on the nature and the urgency of the environmental challenges, and the resulting realization that these challenges could not be addressed in a piece meal has forced UN agencies to work together with other stakeholders including academia, NGOs, business and civil society to addressing these global challenges.

In the area of the environment, he alluded to the concept that scientists have called "safe planetary boundaries" for humanity in nine key areas critical to maintain human life. His point was that some of these boundaries were already being transgressed due to human unsustainable practices and where the UN is doing a lot to address these challenges. "There is a major global energy crisis characterized by 2 realities: 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and 40% of the world’s population depending on biomass for cooking and the inability of the world community to agree on ways to stabilize the greenhouse gas concentrations to the levels required to address climate change," he said.

The panel featured Pradeep Monga, Director, Energy & Climate Change Branch, UNIDO, Ferenc Toth, Planning and Economic Studies Section, Department of Nuclear Energy, IAEA, Manfred Groening, Head of the Terrestrial Environment Laboratory/Seibersdorf, IAEA, Minh Long Nguyen, Section Head of the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section, IAEA, Raimund Mair, Technical Expert on River Basin Management ICPDR Secretariat, UNOV, and Jessica Jewell, Research Scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.