The ministerial segment of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy (HLDE) Ministerial Thematic Forum on Enabling SDGs through Inclusive, Just Energy Transitions discussed a broad range of socioeconomic dimensions and impacts of the energy transition that the world is pursuing. As summarized by the day’s moderator, Kandeh Yumkella, CEO of The Energy Nexus Network (TENN) and former Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization, seven key messages emerged:
- energy pathways must be integrated into the solutions for achieving all SDGs;
- whatever energy strategy is chosen, social equity and inclusiveness must be at the center of it;
- universal energy access is central to energy transitions in all countries;
- the gender dimension must be integrated into any strategy developed;
- systemic approaches must be developed, not quick fixes;
- progress must be monitored; and
- multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed -- no one country can go it alone -- and more importantly, greater collaboration is crucial.
The ministerial segment opened with remarks from a youth advocate, who declared that “failure is not an option,” and “ambition is paramount.” This was followed by remarks from Global Champions on the day’s theme and the three co-leads of the Technical Working Group on Enabling SDGs through Inclusive, Just Energy Transitions spoke about the Group's report and recommendations.
Energy compacts from a city, an industry association, and an international partnership were formally announced. Several ministers also took the opportunity to preview energy compacts they intend to submit to the HLDE in September 2021.
Other features of the Forum were remarks by ministers and the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the day's theme, a “fireside chat” with Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, CEO, Qatar Foundation International, and an interactive panel discussion with representatives from governments, industry and civil society.
Prior to the ministerial segment, multi-stakeholder dialogues addressed the following themes: accelerating SDG 7 achievement in support of human health, gender equality, and education; accelerating SDG 7 achievement in support of just, inclusive societies; and integrated planning and cross-sectoral coordination for sustainable development.
Svante Myrick, Mayor, City of Ithaca, New York, US, announced an energy compact featuring a “community choice aggregation program” to procure renewable energy with the goal of 100% affordable renewables for electricity by 2030.
Patrick Tonui, Head of Policy, Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) announced a compact whereby the off-grid sector commits to delivering improved electricity access for 1 billion people by 2030 through deploying the latest innovations in distributed solar technology, efficient appliances, and decentralized business models.
Ivan Vera, Senior Energy Advisor, on behalf of the Global Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions Network, announced that as of June 2021, three Network members have made voluntary commitments for a compact:
- Itaipí Binacional, a hydroelectric power producer, commits to invest USD 5 million in capacity development for energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and USD 200 million to strengthen electrical transmission and distribution, consequently improving reliability, efficiency and electricity access in Paraguay;
- The Guatemalan sugar association ASAZGUA and Spanish water company Canal de Isabel II each commit to expanding electricity generation to cover 100% of electricity demand with 100% clean renewable sources by 2030;
- ASAZGUA additionally commits to meet at least 30% of the electricity demand of Guatemala during the three dry months through renewable energy, increase production of ethanol for transportation by 20%, and develop a new form of bioenergy from biological residues; and
- Canal de Isabel II additionally commits to increase its energy efficiency by 6.8% by 2025 and to invest more than EUR 80 million over the next 10 years to meet these energy commitments.
A number of speakers during other parts of the ministerial segment previewed energy compact announcements that will be made later, including:
- Rennier Gadabu, Minister for Climate Change, Nauru, previewed a compact to achieve 50% electricity generation from renewable sources by 2023, and 20% electrification of the vehicle fleet and 30% energy efficiency improvement by 2030;
- Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, Iceland, promised his country would submit an “ambitious” compact to the HLDE;
- Jorge Rivera Staff, National Secretary of Energy, Panama, said his country will submit a compact portfolio containing 40 energy compacts from diverse national actors; and
- João Galamba, Deputy Minister and Secretary of State for Energy, Portugal, said his country will submit a green hydrogen compact to the HLDE.
Official Launch of the Theme Report on Enabling SDGs through Inclusive, Just Energy Transitions
The Theme Report on Enabling SDGs through Inclusive, Just Energy Transitions was officially launched during the ministerial segment of the Forum. In an interactive panel, Liu Zhenmin, UN Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization (WHO) commented on some of the priority recommendations of the report, which was developed by a Technical Working Group of multi-stakeholder experts co-led by the three agencies. The recommendations call for:
- integrating the achievement of the SDGs in every country and region as a guiding framework for planning and implementing their own transition toward clean and sustainable energy;
- implementing a sustainable energy transition strategy with social equity and inclusiveness at its center to enable the SDGs;
- accelerating the integration of gender equity into energy transition pathways;
- enabling transformational change by promoting systemic approaches in the energy transition for the achievement of the SDGs and the climate goals, while ensuring energy security;
- tracking progress and integrating an Energy for SDG Impact Framework into energy transition strategies;
- strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships to leverage energy's transformational potential for enabling the SDGs; and
- strengthening global partnerships to support communities of practice, global advocacy, and collective action in the energy and other sectors.
Global Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Segment
Prior to the day’s ministerial segment, multi-stakeholder dialogues were held on: accelerating SDG 7 achievement in support of human health, gender equality, and education; accelerating SDG 7 achievement in support of just, inclusive societies; and integrated planning and cross-sectoral coordination for sustainable development.
Empowering People: Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement in Support of Human Health, Gender Equality, and Education: In the panel on energy and health, speakers observed that the discussion about energy and health is a discussion about saving lives, noting that energy equals health and health requires clean and reliable energy. Speakers pointed out that lack of energy access causes bad health outcomes arising from, inter alia, indoor air pollution from unsafe cooking methods and lack of electricity in healthcare centers.
In the panel on energy and gender, speakers highlighted the need to make women in the energy sector more visible and to increase their role and expand their networks. They further noted the need for quality jobs for women in the sector and for women to have a seat at the decision-making table at all levels.
The panel on energy and education emphasized that access to energy is needed for quality education, and access to education is necessary to promote energy access. They highlighted that education systems are breeding grounds for the development of the new technologies and knowledge required for the energy transition, and called for increased investment in education. Speakers further noted the need for partnerships between academic institutions, which carry out research and innovation, and industry, which will take the innovation to the commercialization and market penetration stages.
Enhancing Prosperity: Accelerating SDG 7 Achievement in Support of Just, Inclusive Societies: Three panels discussed, successively, energy and jobs, promoting the diversification and framework of a circular economy, and the private sector and entrepreneurship.
On jobs, panelists focused on the economic logic of the energy transition, including net job gains through more efficiency and productivity, the need for governments to identify skills needed and create training accessible to everyone, and the fact that many NDCs say little or nothing about human capital.
On circular economy approaches, panelists noted ways of using carbon to turn a cost into profit and that concessional financing is needed for countries that are most vulnerable or in conflict.
On the private sector, panelists noted the incongruity between governments promoting universal access to clean energy while giving subsidies for fossil fuel grid power generation and the usefulness of ground truthing and other data collection on energy needs to increase transparency and mitigate risk, thus encouraging private sector investment.
Protecting the Planet: Integrated Planning and Cross-sectoral Coordination for Sustainable Development: During a panel on “Pathways towards net zero emissions,” speakers addressed the role that cross-sectoral data analysis could play along with systematic approaches to addressing climate change. Speakers discussed the role of climate finance in fostering multistakeholder partnerships and de-risking and incentivizing investments. One speaker said the best pathways will be based on scenarios that account for a country’s energy portfolio.
On “Water, food, ecological systems and biodiversity: Role of renewable energies,” speakers highlighted the need to involve stakeholders in implementation and decision making. Several speakers called for developing criteria for sustainability of renewable energy sources. Cross-sectoral indicators were also proposed.
On “Sustainable cities and communities,” speakers called for connecting climate action with discussions about social equity and engaging other ministries in COP 26. A speaker said local zero-carbon movements have influenced some governments’ commitment to achieve net-zero emissions. The value of a stable grid was also mentioned.
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