Daily report for 18 May 2015

2nd Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum

The second Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum opened on Monday, 18 May 2015, at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York. Discussions took place in several plenary sessions as well as eight dialogue sessions that convened in parallel throughout the day. The dialogue sessions were structured  around thematic tracks on finance, access, country action, innovation for impact, the global policy agenda and growing the movement. Several reports on global progress in attaining SE4All targets were presented during the day, including: the World Bank’s Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE) support tool; the Global Tracking Framework 2015; and the Energy for Women’s and Children’s Health High Impact Report. A high-level roundtable on mobilizing finance for SE4All in Africa took place in the afternoon. The day closed with video addresses by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. 

This report highlights discussions during the plenary sessions and summarizes a selection of parallel sessions.


Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive, SE4All, expressed pride that SE4All stakeholders have “achieved what could not be done for 20 years” with the formulation of a standalone sustainable development goal (SDG) on energy. He challenged the Forum to ensure that commitments are converted into “kilowatt hours for real people.” Stating that more than US$1 trillion is required to achieve the SE4All objectives, Anita Marangoly George, World Bank, emphasized the need to leverage public as well as private energy investments, create a pipeline of bankable projects, and scale up those projects by bringing the best of multiple solutions. Highlighting New York City’s efforts in a “sustainable transition for all,” Nilda Mesa, Director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, stressed the need to identify place-based solutions, break down silos, and look for co-benefits. Sandy Frucher, Vice Chairman, The NASDAQ OMX Group, discussed a global initiative on sustainable stock exchanges, stressing that the goal is not to increase regulation but to build trust and transparency through “reasonable reporting metrics.” Describing his experience of growing up without access to energy, Thione Niang, Co-Founder of Akon Lighting Africa, said the company will not rest until “every African has the energy they deserve.” In closing, Yumkella noted that the SE4All’s innovative financing framework has leveraged an additional US$120 billion a year in private funding and offers a financing model for implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda.


FINANCE: Financing Sustainable Energy for All: This session was organized by the SE4All Finance Committee and moderated by Mohinder Gulati, Chief Operating Officer (COO), SE4All. Introducing the session, Gulati emphasized the importance of developing a pipeline of bankable projects within a programmatic approach. Anne Valentine Andrews, COO, Black Rock Infrastructure Investment Group, said that developed markets no longer have the returns investors seek, so some pension funds are looking to emerging markets. Roberto Ridolfi, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission said that blended finance instruments help to leverage official development assistance by lessening investment risks for the private sector. Mike Eckhart, Citibank, emphasized that guaranteed offtakes have decades of proven success worldwide and should be applied in the Private Sector Facility of the Green Climate Fund. Gil-Hong Kim, Asian Development Bank, noted that project preparation has a cost, and developments banks play an important role in financing project design. Jonathan Plowe, Bank of America, suggested that pricing for green bonds remains similar between issuers, but that trading green bonds as an asset class may be more financially beneficial in the future. Robert Ichord, US State Department, maintained that governance is key, and that a regulatory framework ranks highly among factors that businesses deem important in deciding where to invest. He suggested that developing countries create regulatory commissions or authorities, citing the Power Africa initiative as an example. Gyan Acharya, UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, advocated a multi-stakeholder approach where the private sector plays a role. Suleiman Al-Herbish, Director-General, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), highlighted its Energy for the Poor Initiative.

Enabling Conditions – Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE) Pilot Report: This session, moderated by Vivien Foster, World Bank, presented the RISE tool, developed by the World Bank to support increased investment in economically and environmentally sustainable energy. Foster indicated that the initial pilot covers 17 countries and plans for a global rollout to over 100 countries. Alejandro Moreno, World Bank, explained that RISE is an indicator-based tool to help assess government support for private investment in sustainable energy in line with the SE4All objectives. He said RISE evaluates countries using detailed indicators on planning, policies and regulations, pricing and subsidies, and procedural efficiency. During the ensuing discussion, panelists highlighted RISE indicators that are relevant to their work and shared ideas on how RISE could be most effective. Alakesh Chetia provided the private sector perspective on RISE in terms of its usefulness for analyzing countries’ attractiveness for investment. Tareeq Emtairah, Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), looked forward to the RISE rollout as it will help analogous regional processes to move forward in the global context. Brian Dames, CEO, African Rainbow Energy and Power, called for more work on institutional capacity building. Simon Tracy, Practical Action, underscored that public finance still has a major role to play.

All Africa High-Level Roundtable on Mobilizing Finance for SE4All in Africa: Fatima Denton, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), moderated the panel. Noting that energy is crucial to ensuring stable food and water systems in Africa, she called for creating a coalition of the willing, with initiatives such as Power Africa and the Africa Clean Energy Corridor. Aboubakari Baba Moussa, African Union Commission, pointed out that energy is crucial to social and economic transformation of Africa, and expressed concern over the low level of private sector engagement. On speeding up renewable energy finance, Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission, suggested a faster, revolving cycle of finance, involving public grants, commercial banks and pension funds. Daniel Schroth, SE4All Africa Hub Coordinator, highlighted options to ‘derisk’ investments for African countries, enabling them to take full advantage of the private sector’s potential. Samba Bathily, co-founder of Akon Lighting Africa, stressed the need for collaboration with governments through public-private partnerships, particularly in rural areas where the costs of electrification are high. Henning Wuester, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), highlighted the challenge of leveraging funding for renewable energy projects in Africa due to the perception of risk. Chingiz Orujov, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), emphasized the need to create demand for renewable energy. During the ensuing question-and-answer session, participants discussed, inter alia: the role of the bottom-up approach in linking the formal and informal energy sectors; the role of institutional investors; access to funds for small businesses; returns on investments; financing for household energy; and the need to capitalize on mini- and micro-grids as well as off-grid and large grid solutions. In closing, Mosad Elmissiry, The NEPAD Agency, emphasized the need for an investment-conducive environment, and for political, economic and institutional capacity building.

ACCESS: Off-Grid Electrification – Evidence of Impact: Christine Eibs-Singer, Co-Founder, E+Co, moderated the session. Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkeley, presented research showing a strong correlation between energy access and human development levels, noting the potential of solar energy for enabling energy transitions. Charlie Miller, SolarAid, presented his company’s ‘SunnyMoney’  initiative, specializing in replacing kerosene lamps with solar lights. Katherine Lucey, Founder and CEO, Solar Sister, highlighted the importance of an inclusive approach focusing on women as well as men, and presented case studies emphasising the “ripple effect” of positive impacts of off-grid electrification that can expand out to the wider community and local economy. Camilo Tellez-Mechan, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, presented on financial inclusion and the potential of “digitally-financed energy”, including mobile pay-as-you-go (PAYG) systems, to leverage data to enable rural off-grid energy. Mary Roach, the GSM Association, highlighted the rise of mobile-enabled energy services, made possible through partnerships between utility service providers and mobile network operators. In the ensuing discussions, participants observing the importance of rigorous data collection methodologies and the development of funding mechanisms.

Energy Access Practitioner Network – Opportunities to Invest in Decentralized Clean Energy Solutions: Richenda Van Leeuwen, UN Foundation, moderated the session. Roberto Ridolfi, European Commission, stressed that ensuring energy access requires “the right kind of finance,” noting such financing is less risk averse than traditional funding sources. Ashis Kumar Sahu, CEO, Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN), India, discussed efforts to enhance engagement with Indian decentralized energy enterprises. Shazia Khan, Executive Director, Eco Energy Finance, cautioned that providing free energy creates market distortions and ultimately stifles energy access. Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO, Azuri Technologies Ltd, noted that PAYG solar systems have demonstrated it is posible to deliver clean energy for less than what end users are currently paying. Saying this fundamentally changes the business model, he noted the challenge is how to scale up both financing and distribution aspects. Daphne Pit, Stichting Doen, described start-up funding to more than 80 sustainable energy projects over the past decade using a mix of financial instruments. Harish Hande, Chairman, SELCO-India, stressed that challenge is not about money, products, or services, but transforming “mindsets.” During discussions, one speaker noted that shifting the focus of measurement from supply to access contributes to social impact. Other issues highlighted touched on, inter alia: the need to link energy to livelihoods; focusing more on clean cooking solutions; exploring a range of technologies, not just solar; and bridging the gap between energy access companies and their clients.

COUNTRY ACTION: SE4All Country Action in Africa: The session was moderated by Daniel Schroth, SE4All Africa Hub, African Development Bank. Noting that 25 African countries have SE4All Action Agendas under development and more than 10 have embarked on their SE4All Investment Prospectuses, Schroth reported that most of these countries have completed rapid assessments to help determine the main challenges and opportunities in achieving the three SE4All goals. Sandhu-Rojon, UN Development Programme (UNDP), noted 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. She noted that national energy targets developed under the Action Agendas could provide a framework for monitoring the implementation of an energy SDG. Presenting regional initiatives, Abubakar Baba-Moussa, African Union Commission, highlighted energy priorities under the Programme for Infrastucture Development in Africa (PIDA). He stressed that capacity building, transfer of technology and bankable projects are just as important as finance in scaling up energy services. Stressing that Africa needs “mega-energy projects” in addition to small-scale solutions, Moussa Elmissiry, The NEPAD Agency, highlighted pilot projects in several countries to bring energy projects to a bankable phase. During the second part of the session, representatives of African countries that have made progress in developing their national SE4All programmes described their experiences.

SE4All Country Action in Latin America and the Caribbean: Nancy Jesurun-Clements, Inter-American Development Bank, moderated the session. Luis Roberto Reyes Fabián, Executive Secretary, National Energy Board, El Salvador, noted progress made since the implementation of its National Energy Policy on the three objectives of access, renewable energy and energy efficiency. René Castro-Salazar, CO2nsorcio Euroamericano, highlighted potential savings from biomass use and noted the importance of the choice of energy source, such as between investing in local technology development or importing energy from developed countries. Eduardo Noboa, Executive Director, National Institute of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Ecuador, discussed research, development and innovation as a key step in building local energy development and maintenance capacities and reducing imported energy dependence. Raúl Iván Cortez Sánchez, Renewable Energy Advisor, Nicaragua, addressed energy policies that have boosted renewable energy in his country since 2006, noting the role of the private sector. Carolina Mena, Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, Uruguay, discussed renewable energy and access, stating her country’s aim to reach 50% renewable energy by 2017 and noting that grid access alone is insufficient to ensure real access to energy.

What’s Happening in Asia Pacific?: This session, moderated by Gil-Hong Kim, ADB, delved into energy in the Asia region, and Bangladesh in particular. Kim noted that energy poverty is still high in the region, with 600 million people without electricity. Hongpeng Liu, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), discussed energy trends in the region. He noted that while energy consumption is going up, energy consumption per capita is still lower than the world average. Mohammad Hossain, Bangladesh Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, and Tazul Islam, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh, discussed the country’s renewable energy targets, highlighting efforts to deploy clean cook stoves and micro-grids in rural areas. Bernard Link, US Department of State, described efforts to mobilize financing from the World Bank, KfW Development Bank and others, noting good dialogue with the business community.  Hans Olav Ibrekk,  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, described Norwegian aid efforts in Nepal and applauded the SE4All Global Tracking Framework. Monika Froehler, SE4All Secretariat, emphasized the large opportunity for energy efficiency in the region.

Universal Energy Access - Measuring What Matters: The session was moderated by Malcolm Cosgrove-Davies, World Bank. Simon Trace, CEO, Practical Action, praised the multi-tier system as an opportunity for a more nuanced approach, allowing governments to be clear about specific and measurable targets. Elisa Portale, World Bank, said that multi-tier metrics are preferable to binary measurements as they enable the development of meaningful tools for policy makers. Mikul Bhatia, World Bank, presented a three-step strategy for the implementation of multi-tier approaches, involving developing conceptual underpinnings, implementing pilot schemes and scaling up data collection to the global level. Jens Drillisch, KfW Development Bank, highlighted the importance of collecting transparent and credible data to enable accurate communication of results achieved by projects. Sarah Wykes, CAFOD, moderated a panel discussion of civil service organizations and partner agencies. Caroline McGregor, US Department of Energy, presented complimentary linkages between multi-tier approaches to measurement and her government’s quality assurance framework. Charlie Miller, SolarAid, highlighted progress in communicating the impacts of off-grid electrification, referring to “the implicit shift in mindset” towards focusing on how energy is actually being used. Davida Wood, World Resources Institute, stated that the multi-tier framework opened up “exciting research opportunities” to measure development impacts as well as energy access, but noted that progress was needed in aligning it with policy frameworks. Guarav Dahal, World Wildlife Fund, said the multi-tier approach has brought a new dimension to the discussions on energy access, enabling better modeling of impacts.

INNOVATION FOR IMPACT: Mobilizing Bold Ideas for Impact: The session was organized by Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER), an initiative of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, and the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Susan Kish, Director, Inside Climate News and moderator of the session, introduced various topics, including innovation in design, communication and women in renewable energy. Katherine Lucey, Founder and CEO, Solar Sister, expressed enthusiasm for innovative design, giving the example of simple, intuitive and affordable lamps in use in Africa. She also noted  stated that Solar Sister recruits and trains women from predominantly un-electrified rural areas to be solar entrepreneurs.

Ani Valdemoro, Liter of Light, noted her company makes lamps from water bottles and has furnished lights to 350,000 households as well as to refugee camps. Nawal Al-Hosany, Masdar and the Zayed Future Energy Prize, credited SE4All with helping to communicate success stories to the grassroots, and said involving stakeholders is key. Agreeing that the multi-stakeholder approach is working, Elizabeth Press, IRENA, said creative solutions to energy must include women, and advocated for greater numbers of women to pursue science, technology and engineering education.

GLOBAL POLICY AGENDA: Progress Towards Sustainable Energy – Key Findings of the Global Tracking Framework 2015: During this session organized by the World Bank, panelists presented the results emerging from the second edition of the SE4All Global Tracking Framework, which provides an update of: how fast the world is moving towards the three SE4All objectives; the investment required to attain the objectives; and the emerging methodological improvements for measuring and tracking the selected indicators. Anita Marangoly George, World Bank, emphasized that the report is the result of work of many institutions, including the World Bank, the International Energy Agency (IEA), IRENA, UNDP, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Energy. She observed that: while 220 million people gained access to energy from 2010-2012, 1.1 billion people still need to be connected; renewables’ share increased at about 4% per year – half of what is needed to achieve the 2030 goal; and “we have barely made a dent” on clean cooking. Vivien Foster, World Bank, presented the report’s findings on: universal access to modern energy services with regard to electricity and non-solid fuels; the energy efficiency indicator; and renewable energy consumption. Dan Dorner, IEA, emphasized the gap between the financial flows available today and those necessary to meet the goals, and highlighted interlinkages between energy and broader development along the water-food-health-gender nexus.

2014-2024 UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All: Contributions from UN-Energy Member Organizations and UN Regional Commissions: Ivan Vera, Secretary of UN-Energy, chaired the session. In his opening remarks, Kandeh Yumkella called for speed and accelerated action on the ground, noting the need for enabling policy environments. Manlio Coviello, ECLAC, highlighted his organization’s contributions, including though its membership in the SE4All Americas Hub and an indicator-based energy efficiency programme. Vincent Kitio, UN Habitat, identified four focal areas in assisting governments to access clean energy: urban energy; energy access for the urban poor with particular emphasis on youth and women; energy efficiency; and the roles of renewables in the energy mix. Olivier Dubois, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), presented FAO’s work on ‘Energy-Smart Food Systems’ and ‘Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate’ programme. Osman Benchikh, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighted UNESCO’s two initiatives under SE4All: providing solar electricity to rural schools; and Renewable Energy Futures for UNESCO Sites (RENFORUS) in action. Hongpeng Liu, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), reported on the SE4All Plan of Action in Asia-Pacific (2014-2018) to enhance energy security, equity and diversification, and increase the share of renewables; and the Asia and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) Implementation Support Mechanism.  Stephen Gitonga, UNDP, presented on UNDP’s capacity-building activities for SE4All, including: policy support for integrated sustainable energy planning and development; catalyzing finance; and programming for low-emissions development. Ivan Vera reported on several projects of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), including ‘Powering the Future We Want’ and workshops on mainstreaming energy SDGs within national statistics offices.

Energy Subsidies – Impacts and Opportunities for Reform: The session was organized by Columbia University. Keith Benes, Columbia University, moderated the session. Hans Brattskar, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, supported the “growing momentum” towards fossil fuel subsidies reform, noting that phasing out fossil fuels plays a key role in climate change mitigation objectives and sustainable development goals. Vijay Modi, Columbia University, underscored the impact of smart metering in enabling governments to enact more efficient customer-targeted subsidies as opposed to less efficient state-wide subsidies. Albert Cordeiro de Melo, Director-General, Electrical Energy Research Center (CEPEL), said that energy subsidies are sometimes necessary in implementing new technologies, and that the key question is when to phase them out. Andrew Cheon, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, presented academic research on inefficient subsidy policies, noting public opposition, vested interests and limited institutional capacities as reasons for their persistence. He stated the need to act decisively when opportunities for reform arise, noting case studies of successful subsidy reforms during oil prince declines. In ensuing discussions, participants highlighted, inter alia, the transferability of lessons learned from country to country, and the importance of targeting gasoline and diesel subsidies in the lead up to the UN Climate Conference in December 2015.

GROWING THE MOVEMENT: Energy for Women’s and Children’s Health High Impact Opportunity (HIO) – Report on Progress to Date: This session was hosted by UN Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Women. Jem Porcaro, UN Foundation, and Michaela Pfeiffer, WHO, spoke on efforts to measure and monitor energy accesss to health care facilities. Porcaro outlined the findings of a Norwegian-supported initative that carried out energy audits of 250 rural health care facilities in Ghana, Nigeria and Mali, describing the underlying business model as “broken.” Noting some data challenges highlighted by the WHO study, Pfeiffer stressed the need to focus on understanding the energy gap by linking access to energy with desired health outcomes. Stressing that the inability to provide good basic services at health clinics is a “disgrace,” Hans Olav Ibrekk, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted the need to clarify who is responsible for delivering energy services within the health sector. Seemin Qayum, UN Women, noted that women’s leadership is essential in the energy and health sectors and described an initiative in Uganda to enhance cooperation between women’s organizations, the relevant ministries and specialized technical agencies. Gemma May, UK Department for International Development (DFID) said the HIO is of particular interest to the UK since delivering results for women and girls is a priority area in its development support. Laura Stachel, Co-Founder and Executive Director, We Care Solar, said the company developed a robust and compact ‘solar suitcase’ to respond to the “stark reality” faced by women in developing countries who risk dying at childbirth or losing their babies due to the lack of energy to run critical equipment and medical procedures. Faizal Khan, Noorul Islam University, India, said the university had developed Asia’s first renewable energy cardiac catheterization laboratory to enable it to perform one of the most energy-intensive medical procedures.


Kandeh Yumkella opened the session. He 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 goals and targets of the SE4All Initiative. Irene Muloni, Minister for Energy and Minerals, Uganda, said that energy access was Uganda’s first priority, noting her country’s restructuring of the energy sector as part of its Vision 2040 policy, aimed at fast-tracking activities and tapping into Uganda’s vast renewable energy sources. Sarah Wykes, CAFOD, called on governments to use participatory planning process that enable civil society engagement. She announced the launch of an Alliance of Civil Society Organizations for Clean Energy Access to bridge the gap between energy planners and the populations served.


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 mobilizing private capital.

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