MANILA/VIENNA, 18 June 2014: Under-Secretary-General Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and chief executive of the initiative, today launched the United Nations Decade on Sustainable Energy for All in Manila for the Asia Pacific region in partnership with United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously declared 2014-2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development and for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.

The resolution stressed strong support for the Secretary-General's initiative, launched in 2011, and seeks to achieve universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 in order to spur economic growth, address global inequalities and preserve the environment.

Noting that an estimated 628million people in the Asia-Pacific region – almost half the world's energy poor - do not have access to electricity and more than 1.8 billion people are using traditional fuels such as wood for heating or cooking purposes, CEO Yumkella highlighted the importance of the partnership that has led not only to launching the SEforALL Decade but also the launch of the Regional Hub to tackle energy issues at the country level.

"Our partnership underscores the strong belief that everywhere in the world, people need access to reliable, affordable and clean energy services to ensure they thrive economically and be able to manage their lives. Our three targets complemented by real action on the ground will help ensure a clean energy revolution," said Dr. Yumkella.

"ESCAP is pleased to be part of the collaboration among the three agencies in establishing the SEforALL regional hub," said Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP during his opening remarks at the launch, on behalf of Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar.

"The Regional Hub will leverage the existing structures of ESCAP, UNDP and ADB energy programs and integrate the strengths of all three development partners to support the achievement of the SEforALL goals in the Asia-Pacific region," Mr. Murata explained. `

Access to electricity, particularly from clean energy resources, and to improved cook-stoves can have tremendous impacts on the environment and the socio-economic situation of people. It provides the opportunity for income-generating activities, improves conditions for students and reduces the strains on environment, especially through the reduction of GHG emissions and indoor air pollution.

"Universal access to modern energy means far more than merely providing kilowatt hours," emphasized Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Manager of the UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre. "It means providing energy for schools, health clinics, small businesses and other productive services that improve lives," she said. "This new hub will be an important resource for countries looking for clean energy solutions that serve the poor."

The Regional Hub will harness its three development partners' convening power, country presence and networks to mobilize partnerships to catalyze concrete actions at the country level. Much of the SEforALL Hub work will be aimed at information sharing, forging partnerships and providing a platform for cooperation around specific action areas.

"We can overcome energy poverty through sustainable, low-carbon energy means, and through this new hub which we will host, we are gathering together investors, innovators, and experts to make it this happen," said Bindu Lohani, ADB's Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.

The SEforALL Initiative has generated significant momentum since its launch. More than 75 countries have chosen to pursue the initiative's objectives, from small island states to large emerging economies. Governments, the private sector, and multilateral institutions alike are mobilizing resources in support of the initiative.

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Caitlin Wiesen, United Nations Development Programme regional manager for Asia-Pacific Regional Centre; Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Sustainable Energy for All CEO; Bindu Lohani, Asian Development Bank vice president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development; and, Shun-ichi Murata, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific deputy executive secretary launched the new Sustainable Energy for All regional hub for Asia and the Pacific in Manila. Image: Arnold Camacho / ADB