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Members of the UN Secretary General’s advisory group on sustainable energy (in photo) meeting in Vienna ended their consultation geared towards continuing discussions relating to the launch of the energy campaign, ways to further engage the private sector and kick-start a “green energy revolution” which is needed to spur and sustain economic and social growth.
The high-level group which is made up of representatives of governments, the private sector, international organizations and civil society, was launched in September at the United Nations in New York to tackle the problems associated with “energy poverty” – a condition affecting close to 2 billion people who live without any access to electricity, and an estimated billion living with an unreliable intermittent access, and about three billion using traditional biomass (fire wood or charcoal) for cooking and heating purposes.
For the continent of Africa, the region most affected, it is estimated that for 600 million people, electricity is still inaccessible, unaffordable and unreliable with 80% of the continent’s population relying on the use of traditional biomass for cooking and heating purposes.
In an effort to transform lives and afford new opportunities for the poorest to escape the worst impacts of poverty, the high-level group seeks therefore, through coordinated efforts, to achieve the goal of “Sustainable Energy For All” by 2030 by meeting three interrelated global targets: universal access to modern energy services, doubling energy efficiency, and increasing the share of renewable energy in the world’s energy supply.
Achieving these goals will provide people the means to generate income, provide health care services, improve education, and protect the environment. Lack of access to energy hinders development and poses risks to human health and safety. It is proven that smoke from polluting and inefficient cooking, lighting, and heating devices kills nearly two million people prematurely every year, primarily women and children, and causes a range of chronic illnesses.
“Today, we are making a major coordinated effort towards our goal of providing universal access to modern energy services and raising living standards and economic opportunities for the poorest. This is in line with the mandate which OFID received from the Heads of State of our Member Countries at the Riyadh Summit in 2007,” said Suleiman J. Al-Herbish, Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) as he proudly hosted the meeting at his headquarters inVienna’s Parkring section. “For the last 35 Years, OFID has been supporting, on a South-South solidarity basis, developing countries across the world, particularly the least developed,” added Al-Herbish.
Thanking the government of Austria for their continued support and OFID for hosting the meeting, UNIDO’s Director General Kandeh Yumkella who also chairs UN Energy reminded members that the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative is launched at a time of great economic uncertainty, but also at a time of an emerging consensus on the need to act decisively and cohesively towards global challenges, such as poverty, climate change, human security and sustainable development.”
Noting that “energy is central to each and every global challenge we face,” Yumkella underscored that “the decisions on energy we make today will shape the world we will live in tomorrow. Rio+20 represents a unique opportunity for our interdependent world to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development. The energy revolution must be a cornerstone of that commitment” continued Yumkella.
The year 2012 has been designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.Mikhail Evstafyev contributed to this report. Photo Credit: UN
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