20 April 2016 - An informal meeting held on the margins of the Financing for Development (FfD) Forum addressed investment in affordable and clean energy needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all). Speakers highlighted the relevance of affordable and clean energy to the achievement of other SDGs and new climate change commitments.

Co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Sweden and Zambia and the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative, the discussion was moderated by Minoru Takada, Director of SEforALL's New York Office.

Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for SEforALL, indicated that SEforALL will be adopting a more country-focused strategy throughout the 2030 Agenda's implementation. She explained that the implementation challenge for Goal 7 is that it is interconnected with other Goals. Kyte said progess is being made on all fronts of the current world energy landscape, except clean cooking. However, she stressed that the global energy transition is not taking place at a sufficient pace to meet either the long-term goal of limiting warming to well below two degrees Celsius by the end of the century, which is enshrined in the Paris Agreement, or the SDGs. In order to achieve SDG 7, Kyte estimated a need of over US$1 trillion in annual investment from both the public and private sectors during the period 2010-2030, including US$49.4 billion per year on access to energy, US$650 billion annually for renewables and US$560 billion annually for energy efficiency.

Permanent Representative of Sweden Olof Skoog said the topic of financing affordable and clean energy is more relevant than ever, highlighting the ongoing inaugural UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) FfD Forum, the upcoming signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the recent Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden Isabella Lövin underlined the interlinkages among gender equality, economic growth and sustainable energy. According to Lövin, "beyond the grid" initiatives are crucial since 85% of the people without electricity access live in isolated rural areas. Noting that the national grid may never reach these populations, she stressed that off-grid capacity through new business models will greatly accelerate access to reliable and sustainable electricity.

Christine Kalamwina, Zambia, and Lövin showcased an initiative called 'Beyond the Grid Fund,' recently launched in Zambia in cooperation with Sweden. The initiative aims to bring electricity to one million Zambians, as well as accelerate private sector growth in energy generation and distribution in the country. The fund, managed by REEEP, will be capitalized with up to €20 million between 2016 and 2018, catalyzing up to €100 million.

The 2015 Report of SEforALL Advisory Board's Finance Committee on Scaling Up Finance for Sustainable Energy Investments was also shared at the meeting. It lays out a path for the mobilization of the necessary finance for the clean energy transition. Kyte stressed that the data and analysis are now being revised. She added that SEforALL will be focusing on individual countries and the financing realities in each particular business and regulatory environment. Kyte further indicated that while SEforALL will continue to produce global figures to allow an understanding of the magnitude of the issue, it will henceforth focus on individual countries throughout the 2030 Agenda.

REEEP Fund Press Release
Swedish Embassy in Zambia Fund Press Release
Scaling Up Finance for Sustainable Energy Investments
IISD RS Story on SEforALL Plans for Implementing SDG7

Read more: Sweden Invests 20 Million Euros for Clean Energy in Zambia
Photo credit: Morgana Wingard / Power Africa
Note: This story was originally published by IISD and can be found here