Ministers and high-level officials from 85 countries sent a strong signal in a statement adopted at the Ministerial Conference, during the Eighth International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development, which opened in Astana, Kazakhstan on 11 June.
Seven voluntary actions in the Ministerial Declaration outline ways to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy system, from establishing national sustainable energy action plans, to developing internationally recognized minimum energy performance standards in all sectors, and advancing methods for public data collection and indicators on energy for sustainable development.
The event was held under the auspices of EXPO 2017 ‘Future Energy,’ and for the eighth time, is co-organized by the five UN regional commissions, coming full circle in Astana, where the first forum was held in 2010. High-level participants addressed sustainable energy challenges and opportunities in five ministerial dialogues covering sustainable energy, energy security, regional trade and infrastructure, the energy-climate-food nexus, renewable energy in Central Asia and promoting new technologies and innovations. More than 1,000 people attended the Ministerial Conference.
At the opening ceremony, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, acknowledged that the global energy transition is underway.
Speaking on behalf of the five regional commissions, Dr. Akhtar said, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, together with market, infrastructure and technology advancements have great potential to shape a future powered by clean, sustainable energy. However, to accelerate the transition to a world based on sustainable energy, and to address the aspects of quality of life and uneven distribution of energy, we must deal with the long-term challenges and opportunities.”
Dr. Akhtar emphasized that energy supply enhancements are critical to address existing deficits and meet the needs of over 1.4 billion people without energy access. She stressed that reducing dependence on fossil fuel sources is also urgent, as the carbon budget to keep the world within 2 degrees of warming is dwindling.
Mr. Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, noted the immense potential nationally and globally for growth in GDP and employment through growing the green economy. Mentioning the Kazakh proverb “what is sown by fathers will be harvested by children,” he described energy as “crucial for development” and noted the need for balancing sustainable development and environmental protection as a commitment to future generations. The Prime Minister also expressed hope that the Ministerial Conference and its Declaration will further promote the long-term cooperation of all stakeholders on sustainable energy.
In her address, Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), underlined the critical need to close the gap between current actions and commitments on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and what is truly needed to achieve their implementation.
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