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SE4ALL Bulletin

Volume 181 Number 11 | Sunday, 24 May 2015


Summary of the Second Sustainable Energy for all Forum

18-21 May 2015 | New York, US


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from New York, US at: http://enb.iisd.org/energy/se4allforum/2015/

The second Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum convened from 18-21 May 2015 in New York, US. Under the overarching theme of ‘Financing Sustainable Energy for All,’ the event included the first-ever Global Energy Ministerial Dialogue at the UN. More than 1,500 people attended events over the four days. An Advisory Board meeting, co-convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim also convened during the week.

The Forum opened with two days of multi-stakeholder discussions at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel, New York. More than 70 dialogue sessions took place under the eight thematic tracks of finance, energy access, energy efficiency, renewable energy, country action, innovation for impact, global policy agenda and growing the movement.

The Ministerial Dialogue, which took place at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Hall on the last two days of the Forum, concluded with the launch of a new Global Sustainable Energy for All Commitment Platform. Speaking during the closing plenary, Kandeh Yumkella, outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive, SE4All, said the new platform will provide an institutional framework for convening the broad partnerships that are needed to accelerate achievement of SE4All’s objectives.

Commitments announced at the Forum included: a €3.5 billion European Union grant to leverage private sector investments of up to €30 billion for electricity generation, transmission and access, under a new facility, the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI); a new US$150 million Global Environment Facility Sustainable Cities programme to leverage private funding for sustainable urban development planning in 11 countries; an  OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) commitment to turn an earlier one-time pledge of US$1 billion to alleviate energy poverty into a revolving fund; the earmarking of €13 million of donor funding for the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA) to energy-related activities, including capacity building for more than 3,000 women-led businesses to deliver energy services to more than 2 million consumers; and the UK’s pledge to support a new green mini-grids in Africa programme to provide clean and safe energy access to one million people in Kenya and Tanzania.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SE4ALL

In December 2010, UNGA adopted resolution 65/151, designating 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. The resolution also requested the UN Secretary-General, in consultation with relevant agencies in the UN system and UN-Energy, to organize and coordinate activities to be undertaken during the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. In that resolution, the UNGA recognized that access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries was essential for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, which would help reduce poverty and improve the conditions and standard of living for the majority of the world’s population.

•  In response to resolution 65/151, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative to mobilize action from all sectors of society to realize sustainable energy for all by 2030. The Secretary-General set three interlinked objectives to be achieved by 2030: providing universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

In September 2011, to guide the work carried out under the SE4All initiative, Secretary-General Ban appointed a High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, comprising global leaders from around the world. Drawn from the business and financial sectors, governments, civil society and the UN system, the group has worked to mobilize a broad range of stakeholders to catalyze commitments and form partnerships to support achievement of SE4All targets.

GLOBAL ACTION AGENDA : The Global Action Agenda was developed and endorsed by the High-level Group in April 2012. It provides a strategy for governments, the private sector and civil society to engage with the UN as a convening platform where key stakeholders from both developing and developed countries can mobilize commitments, foster new public-private partnerships and leverage investments needed to make transformative changes to the world’s energy systems.

The Global Action Agenda identifies 11 ‘action areas’ that provide a framework for organizing collaborative efforts across all relevant sectors. The action areas are classified into ‘sectoral action areas’ and ‘enabling action areas.’ The sectoral action areas are: modern cooking appliances and fuels; distributed electricity solutions; grid infrastructure and supply efficiency; large-scale renewable power; industrial and agricultural processes; transportation; and buildings and appliances. The enabling action areas are: energy planning and policies; business model and technology innovation; finance and risk management; and capacity building and knowledge sharing.

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL: During 2012, numerous activities and initiatives were undertaken in support of SE4All. The roll-out of the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All took place at the World Future Energy Summit held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from 16-19 January 2012. Between February and May, there were regional roll-outs in Asia (New Delhi, India, on 1 February 2012), Europe (Brussels, Belgium, on 8 February 2012), Africa (Nairobi, Kenya, on 18 February 2012),  Small Island Development States (SIDS) (Bridgetown, Barbados, from 7-8 May 2012), and the Pacific (Suva, Fiji, on 18 May 2012).

At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, sustainable energy for all was a consistent, high-profile theme. Several high-level side events on the issue were organized. Significant commitments to action in support of the achievement of sustainable energy for all were announced and included in the online Conference registry of voluntary commitments. The Conference outcome document, “The Future We Want” also takes note of the SE4All initiative and the determination of stakeholders to make sustainable energy for all a reality. Numerous UN agencies and other organizations also sponsored events throughout the year (see the Secretary-General’s report on the International Year in document A/67/314).

INTERNATIONAL DECADE ON SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL: In December 2012, UNGA declared 2014-2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. Resolution 67/215 calls upon Member States to galvanize efforts to make universal access to sustainable modern energy services a priority. The resolution stresses the need to improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources for sustainable development.

The Assembly calls upon governments, as well as relevant international and regional organizations and other relevant stakeholders, to combine, as appropriate, the increased use of new and renewable energy resources, more efficient use of energy, greater reliance on advanced energy technologies, including cleaner fossil fuel technologies, and the sustainable use of traditional energy resources, to meet the increasing need for energy services.

FIRST ANNUAL SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL FORUM: This event officially launched the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All 2014-2024, as declared by UNGA, including the initial two-year focus on women, children and health. The Forum’s 1,000 participants, drawn from governments, international organizations, business and civil society, assessed progress on sustainable energy since the Rio+20 Conference, showcased successes, shared best practices, presented new commitments, and worked to catalyze action to help shape the global energy debate for the next decade.

SUMMARY OF THE SECOND SE4ALL FORUM

The second Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum opened on Monday morning, 18 May. During the opening plenary, Kandeh Yumkella lauded all SE4All partners for achieving “what could not be done for 20 years” with the formulation of a standalone energy SDG.

Participants heard opening statements by Anita Marangoly George, World Bank, Nilda Mesa, Director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Sandy Frucher, Vice-Chairman, The NASDAQ OMX Group, and Thione Niang, Co-Founder of Akon Lighting Africa. On Monday evening, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a video address, thanking all participants for their unwavering commitment to SE4All. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, also via a video address, emphasized the need for: a renewable energy SDG; reform of country-level energy sectors to attract investment; a bankable pipeline of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects; and mobilization of private capital.

Throughout Monday and Tuesday, participants met in a series of multi-stakeholder dialogues and plenary discussions to address the Forum’s thematic tracks. For more details, see IISD’s daily coverage at http://enb.iisd.org/energy/se4allforum/2015/18may.html and http://enb.iisd.org/energy/se4allforum/2015/19may.html

MULTI-STAKEHOLDER SESSIONS  

PLENARY DISCUSSIONS ON FORUM THEMES: Driving Country Action Processes Towards Universal Energy Access: Opening this session which took place on Monday afternoon, Yumkella noted the utility of the Country Action Reference Document (CARD) methodology, designed to enable countries to systematically define their national action agendas in line with the global objectives of the SE4All Initiative.

Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals, Uganda, noted her country’s restructuring of the energy sector as part of its Vision 2040 policy. Sarah Wykes, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), announced the launch of the Alliance of Civil Society Organizations for Clean Energy Access to bridge the gap between energy planners and the populations served.

Doubling the Global Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency: During this session, industry leaders from, among others, Johnson Controls, Philips Lighting, and Accenture, stressed the need to change the efficiency narrative to focus on the benefits of efficiency improvements, highlighting the role of the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform in driving these improvements.

A civil society representative discussed the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) ‘50by50’ campaign, which calls for a 50% fuel economy improvement by 2050, underscoring the importance of improving efficiency in passenger vehicles due to expected fleet growth in developing countries.

John Lee, New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, highlighted his city’s policies in the buildings sector, including a retrofit accelerator programme that promotes optimal management of energy use in existing buildings.

Doubling the Share of Renewable Energy in the Global Energy Mix: This session discussed, among other developments: the Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2015, by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which reports that the renewable energy sector employs more than 7.7 million people worldwide, an 18% increase from 6.5 million in 2014. Among other issues, panelists underscored that the sector faces challenges in maintaining the current pace of growth due to a lack of skilled labor.

MULTI-STAKEHOLDER DIALOGUES: Finance: Discussions under the finance track highlighted a number of initiatives aimed at spurring private sector funding to accelerate the achievement of the SE4All objectives.

The SE4All Finance Committee and panelists stressed the importance of developing a pipeline of bankable projects at scale, and lessening investment risks for the private sector. Panelists discussed, inter alia: the historical success of guaranteed offtakes and feed-in tariffs; the future promise of trading green bonds; and the importance of host country regulatory frameworks.

The World Bank reported on its Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE) tool to assess government support for private investment in sustainable energy, with indicators on planning, policies and regulations, pricing and subsidies, and procedural efficiency. It was noted that the initial pilot covers 17 countries, with a global rollout planned to reach over 100 countries.   

A high-level panel on energy finance in Africa stressed that energy is crucial to development, economic transformation and stable food supply. Panelists noted that Africa is challenged by low level of private sector engagement and underscored the need to speed up renewable energy finance, through, inter alia: creating a revolving cycle of finance involving public grants, commercial banks and pension funds; developing options to ‘de-risk’ investments; leveraging funding for renewable energy projects; spurring public-private partnerships, particularly in rural areas; providing financing for household energy; and capitalizing on mini- and micro-grids as well as off-grid and large grid solutions.

Project development facilities were highlighted as a means of making projects finance-ready. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) discussed its project development facility that aims to deliver mentorship, blended financing, business development workshops, and working capital.

Panelists said these facilities help generate bankable deals that can mature and materialize without bottlenecks, and that good mentorship can also reduce execution risk, a worry of investors. Indonesia’s upcoming clean energy pipeline of US$135 billion in investment capital was highlighted as a country example.

During a session launching the Electrification Financing Initiative (ElectriFI), an initiative by EuropeAid, panelists discussed its aim to unlock private sector investment in renewable energy in developing countries. Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission, said ElectriFI will use public development funds as unsecured grants which will then be converted into subordinated debt and only repaid if investments succeed, to allow for crowding in of finance from established banks.

Project Surya and the Gold Standard Foundation launched a methodology on short-lived climate pollutants, with the aim of quantifying and monitoring emission reductions from black carbon. Panelists hoped it might: “break the bottleneck of cost” of cookstoves; open avenues for carbon financing; translate into emission reductions from black carbon; and achieve co-benefits around public health, economic and gender issues.

Access: Discussions under this track covered, among other topics: off-grid electrification; the Energy Access Practitioner Network and opportunities to invest in decentralized clean energy solutions; financing energy access in crisis settings; and driving energy access in the developing world through innovative financing for clean cooking solutions.

On the topic of off-grid electrification, participants highlighted the potential of solar power to enable human development progress. Case studies were presented, including SolarAid’s ‘SunnyMoney’ initiative to replace kerosene lamps with affordable and reliable solar lights. Speakers underscored the “ripple effect” of the positive impacts of off-grid electrification as well as implications for women. Participants noted the utility of mobile technologies and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems, highlighting that the resulting data collected can enable efficient new funding mechanisms.

In a session coordinated by the Energy Access Practitioner Network, participants noted the need for attention to “the right kind of finance,” considering risk aversion as an important factor. Market policy frameworks were discussed, with participants noting that providing free energy can stifle energy access by creating market distortions.

Participants observed that the shift in focus from supply to access should enable more effective analysis of social impacts. A case study was presented by Azuri Technologies Ltd, showcasing a PAYG solar energy system able to deliver clean energy at a lower cost to end users.

With regard to financing energy access in crisis settings, speakers addressed the importance of considering social, political and environmental perspectives in humanitarian policies, calling for tools and capacity development for humanitarian workers. Examples of good practice were discussed, such as the World Food Programme’s Safe Access to Fuel and Energy.

Participants recognized that vulnerabilities of women and girls in conflict settings are not well addressed, and that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) process may provide an opportunity to bring the issue to the attention of policymakers, noting that “pilot projects alone will not meet the needs of more than 50 million displaced people.”

On the topic of financing clean cooking solutions, participants highlighted the need for further work on financial and capacity-building mechanisms to unlock the potential of the clean cooking sector. Speakers considered subsidies and carbon credits as useful tools for stimulating progress, but cautioned against over-reliance on these mechanisms. BioLite presented a case study showing clean burning cookstoves that can reduce indoor emissions by 90% and provide off-grid lighting and charging capabilities.

Efficiency: The dialogue sessions under this track covered, inter alia, work on the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform and other initiatives relating to SE4All’s goal of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. Speakers discussed innovative ways of accelerating progress on the goal and presented case studies from each of the eight sectors included in the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Programme.

The multi-sectoral benefits of improving energy efficiency in the communications and industrial sectors were discussed, with speakers noting the importance of developing global industrial standards and mechanisms to enable the implementation of existing technologies. Speakers highlighted the importance of an inclusive approach, mentioning the role of private-public partnerships and sub-national governance in particular.

Participants called for improvements in financing, including: capacity building for small- and medium-sized enterprises to enable more effective bottom-up approaches; the creation of a global alliance of banks; a focus on energy productivity; and the potential for savings and job creation. Noting that two-thirds of globally installed lighting is inefficient, the public-private ‘en.lighten’ initiative to phase-out incandescent lighting was presented as a case study.

Renewable Energy: Discussions under this track covered, among other items: a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts; REN21’s Renewables 2015 Global Status Report; and IRENA’s recent work. Key findings from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ report ‘Power Shifts − Emerging Clean Energy Markets’ were presented, with speakers highlighting the continuing growth in renewable energy investments in developing countries, noting the contribution of feed-in tariffs and government policies to this success.

REN21’s 2015 Renewables Global Status Report was also presented. Speakers underscored the “success story” of the global power sector in achieving 22% renewable energy, noting significant progress outside of North America and Europe.

Participants highlighted the need for further progress in heating and cooling, noting only moderate progress since 2004. Initiatives from IRENA to enhance project development and financing in Africa were discussed, including the creation of a virtual marketplace for project owners, financiers and service providers. Participants noted that such initiatives could stimulate foreign investment by enabling clearer understanding of the African market and facilitating coordination.

Country Action: Discussions under this track covered, among other topics: SE4All country action in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific; and measuring universal energy access. Participants discussed: the regions’ progress towards the achievement of the three SE4All goals; regional energy trends; the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA); and the World Bank’s multi-tier framework for measuring energy access.

Participants stressed that: capacity building, transfer of technology and bankable projects are just as important as finance in scaling up energy services; grid access alone is insufficient to ensure real access to energy; and research, development and innovation are key to building local energy development and maintenance capacities, and reducing imported energy dependence. They also emphasized the importance of collecting transparent and credible data to enable accurate communication of results achieved by projects.

One speaker highlighted the importance of strong political leadership and sustained commitment at the national level to address energy poverty as part of a low-carbon development pathway. Another highlighted potential savings from biomass use and noted the importance of the choice of energy source.

Innovation For Impact: Among other topics, sessions under this track dealt with mobilizing bold ideas for impact. The various topics discussed by panelists included innovation in design, communication and women in renewable energy. Participants considered: the example of simple, intuitive and affordable lamps in use in Africa; Solar Sister’s recruitment and training of women from predominantly un-electrified rural areas to be solar entrepreneurs; Liter of Light’s production of lamps from water bottles supplied to 350,000 households as well as to refugee camps; stakeholders’ involvement; and women’s role in creative solutions.

Global Policy Agenda: Sessions under this track covered: key findings of the Global Tracking Framework 2015 on progress towards sustainable energy; contributions from UN-Energy member organizations and UN Regional Commissions to the 2014-2024 UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All; impacts and opportunities for reform of energy subsidies; and regional interconnection in terms of unlocking the SE4All potential.

Among the key findings of the Global Tracking Framework 2015, participants considered data on: the investment required to attain the SE4All objectives; the emerging methodological improvements for measuring and tracking selected indicators; universal access to modern energy services with regard to electricity and non-solid fuels; the energy efficiency indicator; and renewable energy consumption. One speaker emphasized the gap between the financial flows available today and those necessary to meet the SE4All goals, and highlighted interlinkages between energy and broader development along the water-food-health-gender nexus.

Discussing contributions from UN-Energy member organizations and UN Regional Commissions to the 2014-2024 UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, participants highlighted the need for enabling policy environments. Contributions from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, UN Habitat, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) were addressed, among others.

In particular, participants considered: FAO’s work on ‘Energy-Smart Food Systems’ and ‘Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate’ programme; Renewable Energy Futures for UNESCO Sites (RENFORUS); the SE4All Plan of Action in Asia-Pacific 2014-2018; the Asia and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) Implementation Support Mechanism; and DESA’s ‘Powering the Future We Want’ project.

Regarding impacts and opportunities for reform of energy subsidies, participants noted the “growing momentum” towards fossil fuel subsidies reform, recognizing the key role of phasing out fossil fuels in climate change mitigation objectives and SDGs. They further considered: inefficient subsidy policies; transferability of lessons learned from country to country; and the importance of targeting gasoline and diesel subsidies in the lead up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015.

One speaker underscored the impact of smart metering in enabling governments to enact more efficient customer-targeted subsidies as opposed to less efficient state-wide subsidies. Another noted that energy subsidies are sometimes necessary when implementing new technologies, and that the key question is when to phase them out.

On regional interconnection in terms of unlocking the SE4All potential, panelists discussed regional integration of infrastructure and markets in Latin America to address uneven distribution of energy resources in the region. They elaborated on: priority projects; their key benefits; key barriers and enabling conditions; the role of governments and stakeholders; ways to promote renewable technologies and energy efficiency, and eradicate poverty; and how Latin America’s success stories can catalyze action in other parts of the world.

Emphasizing the need to garner regulatory and institutional support for regional and sub-regional integration, one speaker highlighted the importance of political and economic integration.

Growing the Movement: The sessions under this track covered, among other topics: High Impact Opportunities (HIOs) on energy for women’s and children’s health, clean energy mini-grids, and sustainable bioenergy; and the global initiative on combining forces to end routine gas flaring.

Under the energy for women’s and children’s health HIO, participants addressed efforts to measure and monitor energy access by health care facilities. They discussed the need to: focus on understanding the energy gap by linking access to energy with desired health outcomes; and clarify who is responsible for delivering energy services within the health sector.

Among initiatives under this HIO, participants noted: We Care Solar’s ‘solar suitcase’ designed to respond to the “stark reality” faced by women in developing countries who risk dying at childbirth or losing their babies due to lack of electricity to run critical equipment and medical procedures; and Noorul Islam University’s first renewable energy cardiac catheterization laboratory to enable the realization of highly energy-intensive medical procedures.

Under the clean energy mini-grids HIO, participants noted the potential of mini-grids for energy access and discussed policy barriers and implementation gaps, particularly regarding finance. One speaker noted that development banks are often unable to fund projects below US$10 million due to high transaction costs, highlighting the need for aggregated projects to make financing viable. Others: called for countries to make use of the available funding to create enabling conditions for scaling up off-grid and mini-grid electrification; identified the need to develop market-building solutions to drive economic development rather than rely on unsustainable grant funding; and highlighted the benefits of community-led, bottom-up approaches.

Under the sustainable bioenergy HIO, panelists emphasized the complexity of the issue and the importance of context, noting that biofuels are “neither good nor bad.” They discussed the need for: in-depth understanding of the issue; implementation of good practices through optimizing land-use efficiency and biomass use; an enabling policy and institutional environment; appropriate reporting and verification; political will; good governance; knowledge sharing; and bioenergy’s economic viability.

On the global initiative to end routine gas flaring, participants considered a global overview of gas flaring by the World Bank and actions by various stakeholders. Participants also discussed regulatory hurdles and the lack of resources. They noted the work of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition as an example on how to achieve innovations in the sector.

GLOBAL ENERGY MINISTERIAL

The Global Energy Ministerial took place on Wednesday and Thursday, 20-21 May and was organized under two main segments. On Wednesday, a policy dialogue took place, with several high-level panel sessions addressing: financing; the three SE4All goals; interlinkages among energy, and women and children’s health; and strengthening global energy cooperation. On Thursday, discussions focused on the future of energy, with commitments expressed by over 100 representatives from governments, the private sector, civil society sector and development partners.

For more details, see IISD’s daily coverage at http://enb.iisd.org/energy/se4allforum/2015/20may.html and http://enb.iisd.org/energy/se4allforum/2015/21may.html

POLICY DIALOGUE: During the opening plenary on Wednesday morning, Kaha Imnadze, acting President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), on behalf of Sam Kahamba Kutesa, President of the UNGA, emphasized the interlinkages between sustainable energy and sustainable development, noting formidable challenges to universal energy access. He stressed the need for: doubling annual investments to over US$800 billion; establishing policy and institutional frameworks; making further advances in clean energy technologies; and ensuring international cooperation to help developing countries address their technological, financial and capacity-building challenges.

Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General, highlighted the need to balance socio-economic and environmental imperatives and to bring transformative change across sectors and societies, urging participants to make bold commitments and forge partnerships to pursue sustainable energy for all.

High-Level Panel on Catalyzing a Trillion Dollar Investment: This panel of global finance leaders addressed infrastructure and finance to reach the SE4All goals.

Lutaf Kassam, Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, outlined the Fund’s rural electrification efforts and approach of blended finance. Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission, emphasized infrastructure, policy environment and access to energy as the Commission’s three blocks of action.

Roberto Zurli Machado, Brazilian Development Bank, identified the need to support stable regulatory frameworks, sound project preparation, and reliable long-term offtake agreements. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Coal, Power and New and Renewable Energy, India, called for “concessional, untied and unhedged” finance for developing countries.

High-Level Panels on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All by 2030: On Wednesday, three high-level panels on achieving sustainable energy for all by 2030 were held. They addressed: ensuring universal energy access; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

On ensuring universal energy access, participants discussed, among other issues: the Energy for the Poor initiative of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); the importance of good planning at the country level; regional approaches to large infrastructure development; the role of multi-stakeholder action in accelerating progress; the need to reach the most remote and impoverished areas first; and the need to distinguish between the technical requirements of rural and urban areas.

One speaker noted that seemingly small interventions, such as clean cookstoves, greatly impact households. She underscored the need to live up to commitments of shared responsibility to address climate change with increased and additional financing by donor countries, to achieve a positive outcome at COP 21 in Paris and a clean energy transformation.

On doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, participants recognized that efficient energy use would facilitate access and help reduce carbon emissions. They noted, inter alia, the need for conducive regulatory frameworks and incentives, and considered energy efficiency improvement initiatives in Japan, India, Norway and the Russian Federation.

On doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, participants considered: country efforts on doubling the share of renewables; challenges to scaling up the sector; the role of IRENA’s Global Geothermal Alliance Initiative; and elements needed to scale up investments in renewables, including policy frameworks, long-term investment planning, technology transfer and capacity development to enable local entrepreneurship, and innovative market mechanisms.

One speaker observed that renewable energy is no longer a niche market and that the business case for renewables is now compelling. Several others emphasized the importance of: sharing country experiences internationally; ensuring policy coherence across different sectors to protect those vulnerable to climate change while increasing energy access; and providing funding and knowledge sharing to further develop cost-effective geothermal energy capacities globally.

High-Level Panel on Energy, Women’s and Children’s Health: Gill Tudor, Chief of Communications and Outreach, SE4All, opened the session with the global launch of the ‘Clean Energy is Life’ campaign video, which depicts a woman coughing while cooking over firewood in a smoke-filled hut, to illustrate the urgent need for action.

Panelists Radha Muthiah, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Sheila Oparaocha, ENERGIA, Irene Muloni, Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Minerals, and Maurizio Vecchione, Intellectual Venture, highlighted various dimensions of the energy-poverty-health-livelihoods nexus. Nawal Al-Hosany, Masdar and Sally Gear, UK Department for International Development, highlighted ongoing gender-focused renewable energy initiatives.

Strengthening Global Energy Cooperation: This high-level panel took place on Wednesday. It comprised sessions on pathways from SDGs to COP 21 and beyond, and on the roles of the UN in strengthening global energy governance and partnerships.

On pathways from SDGs to COP 21 and beyond, high-level panelists agreed that even with the adoption of SDGs in September 2015, energy challenges will remain. They recognized the strong links between sustainable development and climate change. John Podesta, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama, US, stressed the need for multilateral and national work on the two issues, highlighting the “tremendous market power” of the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change.

On the affordability of renewable energy technologies and finance, Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility, pointed out that the cost of new technologies has been declining, and highlighted the challenge of catalyzing the private sector to bring transformational change. She stressed the need for the global community to come together to implement the SDGs.

Darcy Boyce, Minister of Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados, identified the issue of “affordability of access,” seeing room for regional cooperation in the Caribbean.

On the roles of the UN in strengthening global energy governance and partnerships, the panel discussed ways for the UN to create a more effective global dialogue on energy issues. Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), stated that the UN provides a neutral platform where countries, companies and civil society can come together to become more than “the sum of their parts.”

Christoph Frei, Secretary-General, World Energy Council, said that international cooperation should reflect the energy “trilemma” framework to strike a balance between the issues of equity, environment and security.

Participants then shared perspectives on whether the links between energy and the SDGs necessitated the creation of a UN Energy Agency, highlighting that the UN could play an important role in aligning policies, but that SE4All was already providing a strong global framework that could be further strengthened.

FUTURE OF ENERGY − ACTIONS AND COMMITMENTS: Opening Session: Kandeh Yumkella opened this session on Thursday morning, urging participants to make commitments to achieve SDG 7 on energy.

Dikirani Thaulo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said efforts to define a comprehensive and aspirational post-2015 development agenda must be based on actions and commitments towards the “Future We Want.”

Gyan Chandra Acharya, UN Under-Secretary-General, High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, emphasized that the objectives of SE4All cannot be achieved without putting least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) at the center of efforts. He called for: official development assistance; concessional and non-concessional loans and blended finance; capacity building across sectors; and technology.

Dikirani Thaulo, Zayed Solar Academy, Malawi, underscored the role of education in ensuring energy access in rural areas.

High-Level Panel on the Future of Energy − A Global Agenda: Noting that many of today’s energy choices are not sustainable, moderator Andrew Revkin, New York Times, invited panelists to address actionable paths towards a planet with sustainable energy for all.

Brian Dames, CEO, African Rainbow Energy and Power, stated the need to prioritize energy security, affordability and sustainability, and called for greater regional integration in Africa. Responding to Revkin’s question on whether natural gas is an “orphan fuel,” Dames noted that gas can enable aggressive introduction of renewables.

Ceri Powell, Executive Vice-President of World Wide Exploration, Royal Dutch Shell, agreed, highlighting Shell’s vision of combining natural gas, renewables and decarbonization of fossil fuels. David McCauley, Senior Vice-President, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) US, objected, emphasizing the need to “get off the addiction” to carbon and move ahead with a new vision, locking in new types of technology.

In response to Revkin’s question on balancing energy demand against availability of resources, McCauley emphasized the importance of meeting immediate energy needs in the context of transition from fossil fuels.

Addressing Revkin’s question regarding the cost of fossil fuels extraction and energy prices, Powell highlighted high tax revenues that enable high expenditure on research and development. McCauley cautioned that fossil fuel subsidies outweigh those revenues, identifying the need to put a price on carbon while recognizing the needs of the energy poor.

Dames stressed that developing countries must be able to use all their resources, including fossil fuels, and that requiring them to use more expensive options is unfair. He added that developing countries’ GHG emission reductions must be enabled by technological, financial and capacity-building support.

Wrapping up, Revkin noted that everyone can play a role in building a path towards a brighter future.

Special Panel on Monitoring, Tracking and Accountability: Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN, suggested benchmarking as a way of monitoring progress, noting that universal accountability should not be about “finger pointing” but about enabling real global progress.

Vivien Foster, World Bank, discussed the Global Tracking Framework, noting that the 2015 report shows an increased rate of improvement on the three SE4All objectives from 2010-2012. She underscored that rates of progress still need to be accelerated to achieve the goals by 2030, recommending enhanced collaboration between statisticians and energy policymakers.

Maria Theresa Lauron, Chair, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, highlighted the ability of civil society organizations to monitor and track progress in communities in ways that cannot be captured by political statistics and data, suggesting further partnerships with civil society organizations to strengthen SE4All.

Global High School Prize – Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards: Nawal Al-Hoseny, Masdar, Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and Kandeh Yumkella presented the Global High School Prize of the Zayed Future Energy Prize to Bronx Design and Construction Academy, US, Melbourne Girls College, Australia and Nkhata Bay School Authority, Malawi.

Alhendawi applauded the energy of the Global High School Prize winners, saying this should be regarded as “a mandate to all of us to support and work with young people” as full partners in the energy transition. Al-Hoseny explained the history of the prize. A video followed with testimonials from leaders, including former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and students from the Maldives, Peru and Swaziland, among others. Representatives from the prize-winning schools then received their placards on the podium.

Yumkella closed the session by noting that SE4All is also working on a new award for regulators and politicians that implement difficult and brave energy reforms.

Leadership Action and Commitments to Sustainable Energy for All: In a session moderated by Elizabeth Thompson, Senior Advisor, SE4All, more than 80 high-level representatives from energy ministries, business, civil society, multilateral agencies and international organizations outlined their leadership and action commitments aimed at achieving the SE4All objectives.

Thompson first invited representatives from the Itapúa Dam to describe cross-border collaboration on renewable energy. Jorge Miguel Samek, Director General – Brazil, and James Spalding Hellmers, Director General – Paraguay, Itaipu Dam, said the dam provides 80% of Paraguay’s needs and 15% of Brazil’s energy needs, and has helped avoid eight million tons of carbon dioxide, and 5000 barrels of oil per day.

  Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, said Austria has been an active partner in the global clean energy dialogue, having sponsored: the Vienna Energy Forum 2009, 2011, 2013, and the upcoming “Sustainable Energy for Inclusive Development” 18-20 June 2015; two years of SE4All Secretariat office space by the Vienna International Center, and the Vienna Energy Club.

Substitute speaker for Maria Emma Mejia Velez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN, said Colombia relies on 75% hydropower which has 10 times the current capacity. Noting the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy and the upcoming Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Yoseph Kassaye, Director for UN Economic and Development Affairs, International Organizations Directorate-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia, said her country finalized its SE4All plan in 2013 with support from the EU, and that development partners should continue to support to LDCs on energy goals.

Noting the sustainable development strategy announced in March 2015, Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the UN, described September 2014’s feed-in tariff as having leases of 25 years for solar and 15 years for wind charged at 2% value of use.

Special Commitments Kick-Off: Akon, Recording Artist and Co-Founder, Akon Lighting Africa, with his partners Thione Niang and Samba Bathily, declared their commitment, as “children of Africa,” to creating opportunities for millions of young Africans by enabling access to solar energy and capacities to develop their own market. Akon observed that Africa has provided luxury for all countries in the world, and deserves to experience this luxury itself.

Joint Commitments and Cooperation Leadership Statements: Thompson noted the achievement of SE4All in providing energy access to more than 90 million people since 2012. Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals, Uganda, and Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, underscored the importance of building strong coalitions to achieve the SE4All objectives, noting a joint declaration between Uganda, the EU, France and Germany to support the government and people of Uganda in fulfilling their commitment to the SE4All objectives.

Noting Africa’s strong growth in the past decade, Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, Sierra Leone, addressed the importance of paying attention to the “quality” of growth, underlining that energy access is crucial for human development.

High-Level Action Statements: Energy ministers and high-level country representatives then outlined their commitments and leadership actions relating to their SE4All Action Agendas, and broader energy and development goals.

Barbados stated that improvements in technology “make our SE4All targets achievable.” Kiribati called for simplification of criteria to access multilateral financing mechanisms for small SIDS administrations.

Burkina Faso highlighted the Africa Solar 2015 project as a promising initiative, saying it will require support to overcome market difficulties. The Republic of Congo discussed ongoing initiatives to develop the country’s “immense” renewable resources and oil and gas potential.

Angola highlighted some features of his country’s strategic energy security plan, including increasing installed production capacity by nearly 10,000 MW by 2025, of which 80% would be based on renewables. Asserting that “renewables are the future,” Azerbaijan highlighted some innovative projects, including a new wind park in the Caspian Sea, and expressed his country’s willingness to share its experience.

Cambodia reported that more than three million improved and efficient cookstoves have been produced and marketed for households to improve the lives of women and children in particular. The Maldives highlighted several ongoing solar projects involving private and public resources, emphasizing that renewable energy “is not only an option, but the only way to ensure SE4All.” 

Tanzania and Swaziland reported that their countries have completed their SE4All gap analysis and action agendas. Romania highlighted new challenges and “the severe cost” of reforming domestic and regional energy supply, and suggested the cost might need to be shared among EU Member States.

Rwanda discussed her country’s strategy to achieve 563 MW by 2018 through electrification, grid extension and clean energy. Brazil reported that his country’s first public auction for grid-connected solar power yielded 500 MW at one of the world’s lowest prices and more auctions will take place in 2015.

Stating that previous donor-financed energy projects had been successful, Sudan urged international partners to resume support to his country. Noting the completion of its National Medium Term Development Plan 2015-2019, Indonesia said his country will quadruple the current share of renewable energy and achieve 99% electrification by 2020.

Several countries highlighted national regulatory units aimed at reducing risk faced by private investors. Bahrain said his country will launch a sustainable energy unit to, inter alia, develop programmes for feed-in tariffs and energy labeling.

Kenya described the ‘500+ MW’ initiative to accelerate national grid supply and reduce electricity prices by 40%, and noted her country has formed a biomass committee to address the problem of household fuelwood use. Bangladesh said his country’s vision for electricity for all by 2041 includes plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and rural rooftop solar systems.

Several countries described efforts to serve as regional or international hubs. Canada said that Montreal has offered to host the future SE4All Secretariat. Kazakhstan described the government’s plan to host the Astana International Expo 2017 to showcase Kazakhstan as an emerging leader in sustainable development.

Nauru said that universality of access will require tailored solutions, describing her country’s experience of the private sector as that of “predators rather than saviors.” Nepal noted his country’s need of financial, technical and capacity-building support in light of the devastating earthquakes that have compounded challenges to ensuring sustainable energy supply.

The Netherlands highlighted his country’s efforts in promoting sustainable solar lighting. Israel described his country as a hub for research and development in the field of renewables. The UK underscored her country’s commitment of new financial resources to SE4All to support activities targeting energy barriers to opportunities for girls and women.

Citing her country’s goal of boosting the share of renewables by 20% by 2020, the Marshall Islands sent a message to larger nations, stating that “if we can do it, so can you.” Highlighting her country’s efforts in promoting renewable energy in the Pacific, New Zealand emphasized the need for new partnerships and for commitment to tangible results.

Italy reported on his country’s international engagement through the sharing of best practices, highlighting the Italy-Africa initiative. Switzerland emphasized the need for: reform of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies; public sector investment to catalyze private sector commitment; and keeping a strong SDG on energy.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) highlighted UAE’s energy diversification outlook. Turkey noted the Turkish G20 Presidency’s efforts on ensuring access to affordable and reliable energy for all, with an emphasis on work in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Multi-Stakeholder Action, Commitment and Achievement Statements: Representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organizations, partnerships and consortia reported on their contributions to reaching the SE4All goals.

Speakers included IRENA, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), International Copper Association, Statoil, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), Energy Access, UN Foundation, Solar Sister, SunSaluter, Let There Be Light International, GoSolarAfrica, WakaWaka, Practical Action, ADB, GreenTouch Consortium, ENERGIA, Danfoss, AES Corporation, Global Off-Grid Lighting Association, Power for All, UNDP, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Kopernik, and many others.

Participants addressed, inter alia: public-private partnerships; capacity-building activities; investment opportunities; regional activities on access, renewables and energy efficiency; solutions for women and children; education; local initiatives to develop energy entrepreneurship; initiatives to promote gender equality; interlinkages with SDGs and climate change; off-grid energy solutions; and many other issues.

CLOSING CEREMONY: In his closing remarks, Yumkella said one of the key principles in organizing the second SE4All Forum was ensuring that it was as inclusive as possible. He noted that over 2,500 registered participants and the extension of the Forum to four days indicated that “we have done our best to make sure that all your voices were heard.”

He reiterated some of the Forum’s achievements, including: “changing the narrative” to have a standalone energy goal; launching country action in more than 100 countries; establishing a multi-stakeholder platform with private banks and investors; and identifying over US$120 billion in potential new annual investments.

Concluding, he asserted that SE4All has fulfilled part of its ambition of creating an inclusive participatory platform, and stressed that the UN is not just a convener but has a role in setting global standards. Welcoming the financial commitments made by the EU and other partners, Yumkella closed the meeting by inviting all interested delegates to join him on the podium to demonstrate their interest in joining the global movement to end energy poverty.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Energy Sustainability Working Group Meeting: The second meeting of the Energy Sustainability Working Group under the Group of 20 (G20) Turkish Presidency will focus on: access to reliable energy; energy investments; the reasons behind the high costs of renewable energy investment; deploying public and private resources for energy investment; the G20 Principles on Energy Collaboration; phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies; the G20 Energy Efficiency Action Plan and monitoring its implementation; improving the Joint Organizations Data Initiative; and the implementation of price reporting agencies principles to improve energy market transparency.  dates: 25-26 May 2015  location: Istanbul, Turkey www: https://g20.org/turkey-2015/2015-event-schedule/

Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas Second Ministerial Meeting: The second Ministerial Meeting of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) aims to enhance regional cooperation on energy and climate change issues. Technical discussions will take place on 25 May, followed by the ECPA Ministerial Session on 26 May. dates: 25-26 May 2015 location: Merida, Mexico contact: ECPA www: http://www.ecpamericas.org

Open-Ended Consultations on UNECE Work on Sustainable Energy: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will hold Open-Ended Consultations on its sustainable energy work in preparation for the 24th session of its Committee on Sustainable Energy. The Geneva Energy Conversations workshop on ‘Scenarios for Sustainable Energy’ will be held on 26 May 2015 and will inform the Open-Ended Consultations.  dates: 27-28 May 2015  venue: Palais des Nations, Salle XXVI, Avenue de la Paix  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Stefanie Held, UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy  email: stefanie.held@unece.org www: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=38541#/

Sixth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM6): Hosted by the Government of Mexico, the meeting will assess progress achieved since the body’s founding five years ago and will be a “decision-making meeting,” where the participating government ministers will decide on a plan for how the forum can be more ambitious and effective. dates: 27-28 May 2015  location: Merida, Mexico  contact: CEM Secretariat www: http://www.cleanenergyministerial.org/Events/CEM6

34th International Energy Workshop: Hosted by IRENA, the workshop will focus on, inter alia: climate change mitigation and adaptation; the economics of renewable energy sources; linkages between climate, air pollution and energy security; energy and economic growth in emerging economies; and energy poverty alleviation. dates: 3-5 June 2015  location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates  contact:  Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)  phone: +39-02-52036989  email: info@internationalenergyworkshop.org www: http://www.internationalenergyworkshop.org/meetings-8.html

Asia Clean Energy Forum 2015: The Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF), organized since 2006, shares best practices in policy, technology and finance to support climate and energy security with events, plenary sessions, keynote presentations, panel discussions and ‘Deep Dive Workshops’ on specific topics. Pre-forum events of the 2015 ACEF will include the International Off-Grid Renewable Energy Conference and the Quantum Leap in Wind Workshop.  dates: 15-19 June 2015   venue: ADB headquarters  location: Manila, Philippines  contact: ADB  phone: +63-2-632-4444  www: http://asialeds.org/events/asia-clean-energy-forum-2015

EU Sustainable Energy Week 2015: The week will consist of: the Sustainable Energy Europe Awards in the categories of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cities, communities and regions; Sustainable Energy Days throughout June; and the 2015 EU Sustainable Energy Week Policy Conference. dates: 15-19 June 2015  location: Brussels, Belgium  phone: + 32 (0)2 737 96 96  email: info@eusew.eu www: http://www.eusew.eu/

 Vienna Energy Forum 2015: The 4th biennial Vienna Energy Forum will focus on the theme ‘Sustainable Energy for Inclusive Development’ and will emphasize the multiple benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas, and showcase the best practices and actions on the ground that can contribute to both agendas.  dates: 18-20 June 2015  venue: Hofburg Palace, Michaelerkuppel, 1010  location: Vienna, Austria  contact: UNIDO email:vef2015@unido.orgwww: http://www.viennaenergyforum.org/registration

Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda – Sixth Session: The session is scheduled to focus on negotiating the outcome document of the September 2015 summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.  dates: 22-25 June 2015  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  email: dowlatshahi@un.org www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015 

Island Energy Transitions: Pathways for Accelerated Uptake of Renewables: IRENA and the French Government, with the regional Government of Martinique, will convene this meeting on accelerating the uptake of renewables on islands.  dates: 2225 June 2015  location: Martinique  contact: IRENA Secretariat  phone: +971 2 417 9000  email: secretariat@irena.org

Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD): The conference will be held at the highest possible political level, including Heads of State or Government, relevant ministers – ministers for finance, foreign affairs and development cooperation – and other special representatives.  dates: 13-16 July 2015  location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  contact: FfD Secretariat  www: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/consultations/index.htm

Intergovernmental Negotiations on Post-2015 Development Agenda – Seventh and Eighth Sessions: The sessions are both scheduled to focus on negotiating the outcome document of the September 2015 summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda.  dates: 20-31 July 2015  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: Office of UNGA President  email: dowlatshahi@un.org www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015

UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda: The UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda was mandated by UNGA on 25 September 2013 (Resolution 68/6). The Summit will be convened as a UNGA high-level plenary meeting, per Resolution 69/244 of December 2014. dates: 25-27 September 2015  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/summit

UNFCCC COP 21/CMP 11: COP 21 will be held in conjunction with the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11), as well as meetings of their subsidiary bodies.  dates: 30 November - 11 December 2015  location: Paris, Ile-De-France, France  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  email: secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://www.unfccc.int