UN launches Sustainable Energy for All Decade and Regional Hub in Asia-Pacific

It is estimated that 628 million 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. Recognizing the need to bring sustainable energy to all globally, the United Nations declared 2014-2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), underscoring the importance of energy in the post-2015 development agenda.

Today, the United Nations SE4ALL decade was launched regionally in Manila, Philippines. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also launched a Regional Hub to tackle energy issues at the country level.

“ESCAP is pleased to be part of the collaboration among the three agencies in establishing the SE4ALL Regional Hub,” said Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP during his opening remarks on behalf of United Nations 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 SE4ALL goals in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr. Murata explained.

Speaking at the launch of the SE4ALL decade today, United Nations Under-Secretary-General Kandeh K. Yumkella, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative SE4ALL and chief executive of the initiative said: “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.” Dr. Yumkella added: “Our three targets complemented by real action on the ground will help ensure a clean energy revolution.”

The goals of SE4ALL, as outlined in the Secretary’s General’s initiative established in 2011 are 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.

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 in Manila today. “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 SE4ALL 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 this happen,” added Bindu Lohani, ADB’s Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.

SE4ALL has generated significant momentum since its launch in 2011. It is a unique partnership between the United Nations and the World Bank, whose executives co-chair the Advisory Board. More than 75 countries have chosen to pursue SE4ALL 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’s three objectives.