UN-Energy and The Decade

The United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All


UN-Energy and The Decade

Many United Nations organizations that are member organizations of UN-Energy are already involved in efforts that support the Decade, and have announced additional commitments.

This comes in addition to the many contributions of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative with its thousands of multi-stakeholder and cross-regional partners from governments, the private sector, the civil society and organizations, including multilateral and national development banks.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will ensure that the Decade’s activities are linked to the national development priorities of developing countries in the context of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, future sustainable development goals, the follow-up actions of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the ongoing climate change discussions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Programme will, in collaboration with key partners, provide technical advice to develop specific sustainable energy solutions, in particular ones related to bottom-up/decentralized energy options. It will continue with ongoing work to provide technical assistance targeted to expanding “bottom-up” approaches to specific demand sectors such as education, health, agriculture, youth employment, small enterprises and rural and urban housing.


The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the initiative as a landmark opportunity to reduce the enormous disease and death burden associated with the lack of access to clean, modern energy solutions, and inefficient energy use. Significant health benefits can be derived from transitions to clean renewable energy sources in the workplace, the community and the home, making health an indicator of progress towards all initiative goals. Tracking improved access to clean and sustainable energy by households and health-care facilities, reduced exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution and its related disease burdens, and occupational risks in the energy sector can serve as valuable health indicators of progress on the initiative.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will support the Decade by engaging in multi-stakeholder partnerships and promoting the global tracking framework. The Copenhagen Energy Efficiency Centre, as the SEforALL energy efficiency hub, was initiated by the Government of Denmark as a satellite that will focus on tracking, knowledge management and implementation support related to energy efficiency. In addition, UNEP will strengthen regional efforts and capitalize on its energy-related Global Environment Facility (GEF) portfolio. The Programme will initiate the development of renewable energy sustainability criteria, building on work by the International Resource Panel, and promote an integrated approach to the objectives of the initiative, which will allow the harnessing of mutual benefits and synergistic effects between access, efficiency and renewables. The Programme will contribute to knowledge-sharing and awareness-raising through UNEP flagship publications (e.g. the Global Environment Outlook); communication and outreach activities, including multimedia campaigns; networks, including regional networks of climate change officers and the Climate Technology Centers and Network, along with support to the Clean Energy Solutions network); and the biennial International Renewable Energy Conference, facilitated by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate represents the commitment of FAO to the implementation of the initiative. The Organization has prominent roles in two high-impact opportunities of the Global Action Agenda: chairing the steering committee on sustainable bioenergy; and co-chairing the high-impact opportunity effort on the “water-energy-food nexus”. The food-energy-water nexus and the climate-land-energy-water-development nexus are important elements to consider in achieving food security and sustainable development. The Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate programme seeks to address those challenges by working towards the goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative at all stages of the agrifood chain. Examples of activities include developing a robust and cost effective water-energy-food nexus assessment package, improving energy efficiency at different stages of the agrifood chain and improving access to affordable modern energy services to reduce food losses.


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s strategy will build on its achievements, with an emphasis on renewable energy and priority objectives focusing on: (a) education and capacity building; (b) the sharing of best practices and scientific and technological knowledge; and (c) promoting related energy policies and the setting of standards. The objectives of UNESCO activities are implemented under the Global Renewable Energy Education and Training Programme. The strategy of UNESCO includes assistance to Member States to take concrete actions through effective policies and institutional frameworks towards enhancing the use of renewable energy technologies. The contribution of UNESCO serves as a catalyst to projects with a multiplier effect and can leverage additional funding. As an example, the Renewable Energy Futures for UNESCO Sites initiative was launched to promote the use of UNESCO biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites as field observatories on the sustainable use of renewable energy sources.


The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its partners have as their potential contributions to the energy issue to implement and sustain the land-based, marine-based and space-based observing programmes that will provide information to decision makers on energy potential at various sites. The programmes of WMO, such as the World Climate Programme, including the World Climate Research Programme and co-sponsored bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, mobilize the scientific community, which contributes to climate-change studies and assessments and improves the understanding of long-term trends relating to climate-dependent energy demands at the global level. Furthermore, the Commission for Climatology of WMO provides global leadership in promoting expertise and international cooperation in climatology. The Global Framework for Climate Services will provide an opportunity for WMO and partnering agencies to address issues related to user requirements for climate information related to the energy sector, and will identify and, with support from donors and sponsoring agencies, address the observational, research and information and forecast production needs that will serve to improve climate services to the energy sectors.


CleanStart is the innovative approach of the United Nations Capital Development Fund to access by poor households to sustainable, low-cost clean energy. The programme is aimed at supporting access for low-income households and micro-entrepreneurs to modern energy through microfinance. It is designed to support at least 2.5 million people benefiting from cleaner and more efficient energy by 2017. CleanStart will support up to 18 financial service providers in six countries in Asia and Africa to provide microfinance for clean energy solutions. It will also work towards building a sustainable supply chain for energy technologies or services chosen for lending. CleanStart is implemented by the United Nations Capital Development Fund in close cooperation with GEF. A total of $60 million will be lent over the life of the programme, with the potential to reduce over 300,000 tonnes of CO2. Based on an initial investment of $26 million, CleanStart could leverage an additional $49.5 million by collaborating with other actors or programmes in refinancing ($30 million), energy value chain development ($18 million) and carbon financing ($1.5 million).


The International Fund for Agricultural Development can enhance its participation in the rural energy sector, given its strong link with microfinance institutions. The Fund needs to place additional value on “strengthening entrepreneurial and business skills and the promotion of private investment” by providing better access to finance for rural people. One example (a $500,000 grant in the pipeline) concerns solar-powered drip irrigation systems in Benin. 


The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) subprogramme on sustainable energy, through its Committee on Sustainable Energy and subsidiary bodies, will continue to provide member States with a platform for international dialogue and cooperation. Action by ECE will focus on issues related to energy efficiency, cleaner electricity production from fossil fuels, renewable energy, coal mine methane and the United Nations framework classification. The Committee will continue its energy security dialogue. The contribution of ECE to the Decade will be developed along the objectives and areas of work indicated by the agreement among member States of April 2013.


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) programmes and activities that are relevant to the initiative have been summarized as relating to energy commodity development and greening international trade. The energy commodity development programme includes reducing information asymmetry for increased energy access and efficiency, promoting natural gas in the global energy mix, increasing local participation for reducing energy poverty, negotiating contracts for balanced accrual of returns and improved access to energy services, mitigating the impact of energy price volatility for universal access to energy and formulating trade, competition and investment policy for energy development. Greening international trade refers to commodity supply chains relating to clean energies. The CO2 embodied in international trade and the carbon footprint of transporting goods leads to difficulties with regard to effectively decarbonizing economies. In that context, global standards that go beyond accounting for greenhouse gas emissions are necessary. For example, agrifood standards should integrate computation of the “environmental footprint”, from “farm to fork”. Two activities of the programme include fuel efficiency and sustainability principles of freight transport, and the UNCTAD Biofuels Initiative.


The Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has as one main objective the facilitation of consensus to promote regional cooperation to enhance energy security and the sustainable use of energy in the Asia and Pacific region. The Asian and Pacific Energy Forum held in the Russian Federation in May 2013 was the first intergovernmental ministerial conference on energy under the auspices of the United Nations. The meeting resulted in the adoption of a ministerial declaration on regional cooperation for enhanced energy security and the sustainable use of energy in the Asia and Pacific region, and a plan of action on regional cooperation for enhanced energy security and the sustainable use of energy in the Asia and Pacific region for the period 2014-2018. With funding support from IFAD and the United Nations Development Account, ESCAP is implementing a multi-year project to widen access to modern energy services for rural communities through the Pro Poor Public Private Partnership. The project is developing national and local capacities to attract private sector investment in rural energy access with locally available renewable energy resources.


The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) will continue to play a key role in the coordination of the activities of UN-Energy and will support the implementation of the Decade. As the UN-Energy secretariat, the Department has coordinated the participation of member organizations in the post-2015 consultation on energy and on initiative activities. The Department is also supporting the effort towards a global transformation of energy systems and is leading a public-private partnership on minimum electricity access that promotes electrification in isolated rural communities with stand-alone systems. The Department also prepared a survey of international cooperation activities in rural areas and is organizing a global conference on capacity development for rural sustainable energy access, held in Ethiopia in December 2013. The Department will promote cooperation among United Nations agencies for the implementation of programmes supporting the Decade and the nexus between energy and water, health, food security, agriculture, gender and education.


The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is involved in the delivery of technical assistance, capacity-building and policy advice in support of access by developing countries to clean and efficient energy for productive use. The Organization stands ready to support the implementation of the Decade by focusing on tangible actions and concrete initiatives enabling the global transition to a “greener” model of industrialization and economic growth. It will support Member States through initiatives that support the development of national industrial energy efficiency action plans, and promote and support the dissemination of energy management systems, standards and best policies and practices relating to energy audit and management. It is the initiative’s lead organization with regard to energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, and works with GEF and the International Organization for Standardization on these topics as a high impact opportunity.