Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Future Role of SE4All in Promoting Sustainable Energy

Magazine article UN Chronicle

The Future Role of SE4All in Promoting Sustainable Energy

Article excerpt

Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) is a call for both revolution and reform: a radical vision where everyone can access and afford the reliable energy they need to live a productive, healthy, secure life, while respecting the planetary constraints that we all face as a result of climate change.

The great news is that this is actually within our grasp. For the first time, we have a development goal on energy, unanimously agreed upon by the international community in September 2015 to "ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all".

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 and its five targets sit at the heart of the 17 SDGs. If we do not meet the energy goal, it will be extremely hard to provide access to quality health care or education, achieve gender equality, create jobs and growth, ensure sustainable consumption or effectively fight the climate change that threatens to undermine the achievement of all the goals. SDG 7 is fundamental to just about every aspect of development, and for that reason, success has to be front-loaded; we need to attain its targets much earlier than 2030 in order to set the enabling conditions for progress on other goals.

The COP21 Climate Conference, to be held in Paris in 2015, accentuates the urgency. Coming so soon after the adoption of the SDGs, COP21 is a test of the political commitment that we saw at the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. Just three months later, can we be consistent in Paris with the vision that we signed up for in New York? It is also another reminder of what the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in September: we are the first generation to have the opportunity to really eradicate poverty, and the last generation to have a chance to combat climate change.


The science is unequivocal, and our task therefore is clear: to engineer growth without carbon. Whatever is agreed upon in Paris simply cannot be realized without a revolution in the way we think about our energy supply, and the reforms to make it happen. We already see that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that countries are filing with the United Nations address the significant shifts in energy generation necessary to meet the collective goal of limiting emissions, and to secure growth and competitiveness.

So achieving access for all is not science fiction, and this is what the SE4All initiative is all about. The action that needs to be taken to help poor and vulnerable people and communities get the energy they need, while accelerating a worldwide transition to zero net carbon emissions before the end of the century, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated we need to do, stretches across SE4All's three objectives. And those targets--universal energy access combined with major achievements in energy efficiency and renewable energy--are echoed in SDG 7.


SE4 All is a remarkable platform of partners from Member States in all regions and at all stages of development, ranging from innovative initiatives delivering off-grid solar appliances to women in rural West Africa, to the largest oil and gas companies in the world. It is a big tent, welcoming public sector, private sector and civil society alike: utilities and regulators, innovators and entrepreneurs, huge multilateral institutions and grassroots non-governmental organizations.

SE4All is looking for the spaces in the energy debate where we can assemble data, evidence, goodwill, operational capacity, finance and collaboration, to catalyse faster action. The vision for SE4All is not to duplicate the work of our partners, but to lift it up in order to speed up implementation of the goals.


It is a movement for change that started some years ago, when disappointment over the lack of a Millennium Development Goal on energy was channelled into a positive education drive for the development community on why energy is fundamental, and why it has to be cleaner. …

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