Energy enables. From job creation to economic development, from security concerns to the full empowerment of women, energy lies at the heart of all countries’ core interests.
In September 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative and shared his vision for how governments, business and civil society, working in partnership, can make sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030.
The world faces two urgent and interconnected challenges related to energy, he noted.
One is related to energy access. Nearly one person in five on the planet still lacks access to electricity. More than twice that number, almost three billion people, rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. This is a major barrier to eradicating poverty and building shared prosperity.
Where modern energy services are plentiful, the problem is different – waste and pollution. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are contributing to changes in the Earth’s climate that are causing widespread harm to lives, communities, infrastructure, institutions and budgets. Climate change puts us all at risk, but it hurts the poor first – and worst.
“Energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.”
The key to both challenges is to provide sustainable energy for all – energy that is accessible, cleaner and more efficient.
Sustainable energy is about new opportunities. It enables businesses to grow, generates jobs, and creates new markets. Children can study after dark. Clinics can store life-saving vaccines. Countries can grow more resilient, competitive economies. With sustainable energy, countries can leapfrog over the limits of the energy systems of the past and build the clean energy economies of the future.
Sustainable energy for all is an idea whose time has come.